Death Valley Dreaming:
Biking and Hiking Death Valley

Biking Bad Water and Artist Loop, Dante Delight, and Stove Pipe Wells
Hiking Hole in the Wall and Fall Canyon

February 4 - 10, 2011

by Rob Jones

(Text © copyright by Rob Jones; Photos © copyright by Rob Jones)
Bad Water early in the day
Bad Water early in the day
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Titan Pillars, or Pillars of Titan - framing Artist Point
Titan Pillars, or Pillars of Titan - framing Artist Point
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      Photos are scattered throughout this report.
      Keep scrolling.

      This trip was organized by Cheryl Soshnik and others of the Wasatch Mountain Club.

      Preliminary: Driving 380+ miles to Death Valley (DV) from Northern Arizona. Out of the land of glaciers to the land of salt brush and sand, where I arrive to greet old friends from prior treks. Lovely. Pink sunset over bare hills.

      Day 1: Bad Water and Artist Loop Biking. 42 miles.
      The salt dust flows into my mouth as I careen downhill, finally, from the Artist Pallet. The rock walls crowd the wash through which the road is laced. Faster. Lean the turns. 30. 35 MPH. Back-off, perhaps there's gravel on a blind turn? This loop is a tough ride - steep and short, a quick decline followed by more up and then down to rejoin the Badwater Road.
      The day started with a slow awakening and lots of catch-up talk around the coffee pot. Then, on the road to Badwater, passing Chris Rock along the way. The road rolls - rolls past alkaline flats and a pooling mirage as we ride like the housing market, underwater? no, below sea level. Turning around at the low point, we ride the return leg, and that's when we climbed the Artist Drive.
      Corrugated nude hills flank the ribbon of tarmac on the 10% climb.
      Fading power, the ride ends in a bit of a grind. Scenic toilets are seen at Golden Valley and Artist Palette. Zig reports there are dates (from date palms) on the ground on the playa between camp and the Furnace Creek pool and showers.
      Light fades as we await Robert Turner's Dutch oven chicken with salad and strawberry shortcake and rhubarb compote. Yummy.

See the map of today's Bad Water and Artist Loop ride at: (click here)

Day 1 of DV Dreaming

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wdv2011-day1-1 chris rock.jpg (408517 bytes)

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wdv2011-day1-2 cheryl below sea level.jpg (235188 bytes)

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wdv2011-day1-4 artist drive.jpg (299726 bytes)

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wdv2011-day1-5 Mounia, Cheryl, Rod at Artist Point.jpg (287095 bytes)

wdv2011-day1-5 Mounia, Cheryl, Rod at Artist Point.jpg

wdv2011-day1-6 tilted coluvium.jpg (278715 bytes)

wdv2011-day1-6 tilted coluvium.jpg

      Day 2: Dante Delight. 36 bike miles + 3000' elevation gain.
      Telescope Peak peeks out above the terrace of light and dark highly textured frontscape. Telescope - coated with snow while we're experiencing fairly warm temps in the lowlands. Lowlands indeed, we (Chris W. and Dave R., and I) start the day below sea level and grind and grind up, past Zibriskie Point and on, on to the Dante Point turn-off and then more up on this road. Chris faded back towards camp, followed shortly by me, then Dave kept climbing, with the last bit listed as a 15% grade. A scenic toilet view, but not at the high point.
      I returned to camp to find Cheryl without equipment because the vehicle traveling to The Racetrack experienced a torn tire. Tough times on the playa called The Racetrack, where rocks are blown across the slickened mud. Sometime after dark the Racetrack group returns to camp. A calm evening ensued.

See the map of today's Dante Delight ride at: (click here)

Day 2 of DV Dreaming

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wdv2011-day2-1 Barbara road fuel.jpg (207373 bytes)

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wdv2011-day2-2 Rob low living.jpg (408848 bytes)

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wdv2011-day2-3 Zabriskie Pt.jpg (378543 bytes)

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      Day 3: Stove Pipe Wells. 49 bike miles.
      The forest hawk, apparently a Coopers Hawk, zips low over the monarch tamarisk - headed for the date palm rows bordering the unnatural tailored lawn where oddly dressed people ride around on electric carts and hit small white balls to lure out exotic golfs. They carry an amazing assortment of clubs to dispatch any golf foolish enough to chase the white balls. So much water goes to so few in this land of heat and almost negative humidity in the quest to bash golfs. Of course, this waste and abuse is miniscule compared to the terror-supporting winnehogos, burning as much fuel oil as possible, even courteously running generator motors all night.
      Today, many of us ride to Stove Pipe Well, below then above, then below (etc.) sea level. A glorious tour past the Devil's Corn Field and Mesquite Sand Dunes, backed by fluted, rumpled, corrugated mountains with a foreground of salt beds.

See the map of today's Stove Pipe Well ride at: (click here)

Day 3 of DV Dreaming

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wdv2011-day3-1 devil's cornfield1.jpg (345059 bytes)

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wdv2011-day3-2 devil's cornfield2.jpg (320351 bytes)

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wdv2011-day3-3 close encounter.jpg (169200 bytes)

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      Day 4: Hole in the Wall or Your Head? Upper Hole-in-the-Wall hike. 15.5 miles; + and - 2000', 4 arches 1 set of pictos. ERM = 23. Store the bike, get out those hiking boots...
      The sun has long ago set behind the near horizon and the first stars of the night are glowing. Yet, I'm still pounding along on well-bruised feet and failing, flabby, faltering sewing-machine legs, on a car quest in the gathering gloom. OK, it's not that desperate, yet the old body is protesting and I've been out of water since joining the circle of the loop portion of this lollipop hike. Lollipop because the hike is a circle shape with a stick, a lollipop.
      Finally, I see the faint shape of the truck shell - seeing the shell, not the rest of the truck, in this light. Recall the Moody Blues "Cold-hearted orb that rules the night, removing color from our sight..." A group of modern day psycho-physicists?
      OK, I started this hike a bit late in the day, then compounded the challenge by parking nearly 2 miles from the end of the road. Before long, I was negotiating the smoothest wash sections, stumbling along to the primitive pictos - not far from the old quarry area for the Furnace Creek Inn - you'll recognize the distinctive golden rock. No track or trail, I head up into the limestone narrows and spy the second arch of the day - the first was an extreme distant skyline arch to the South. I'm cool, as the wind is ripping down-canyon and in places the canyon is already in the shade. Another arch near mile 4 (nearly 6 miles for me).
      After hiking over the divide and crossing into the canyon to the North, I see two more small arches. I am able to increase my hiking speed as the sun dips low. Will it go as low as the moral equivalent of a tea-bagger? No, because this is the new standard in low, representing class warfare carried for the elitist rich, camouflaged with christian symbols and poor or no knowledge of the constitution. (For example, denying or ignorant of the 'common welfare' section of the constitution.) It's truly amazing how many can be persuaded to vote against their own interests by cleaver framing of words and flag-waving slogans, which take the place of reason and thought.
      Finally, I'm bouncing back down the coluvial fan to a late shower and a delightful snack.

See the map of today's Upper Hole-in-the-Wall hike at: (click here)

Day 4 of DV Dreaming

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wdv2011-day4-1 entrance ride1.jpg (395299 bytes)

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wdv2011-day4-3 Cheryl's tent friend.jpg (424252 bytes)

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wdv2011-day4-5 pictos1.jpg (298366 bytes)

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wdv2011-day4-6 pictos2.jpg (275650 bytes)

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      Day 5: Rest-A-Rama.
      A Dave Rumbellow-style day of culture - visiting the museum, reading, exploring local exhibits. I'm interrupted in my reading by a Coyote - who walks into camp inspecting things. Chris Winter, having left for the quiet of back road camping, just missed Mr. Coyote.

Day 5 of DV Dreaming

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wdv2011-day5-1 garbage hound1.jpg (259064 bytes)

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      Day 6: Fall Canyon. 7.5 miles.
      Upcanyon, the tortured, contorted, folded mountain frames what appears to be a box canyon. Really, it's a turn in this twisting Fall Canyon, as I hike up the soft gravel incline to the dry falls, through limestone narrows. Nice. I see a tiny NB and an arch nearby, then an arch on high from the brief side canyon. Fall Canyon is adjacent to Titus Canyon - a famous drive-through of sheer walls.

See the map of today's Fall Canyon hike at: (click here)

Up next - Joshua Tree Junket Backpack

Click here to go to the report of the Joshua Tree Junket.

Day 6 of DV Dreaming

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wdv2011-day6-1 flower.jpg (156097 bytes)

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Scenic Toilets of Death Valley NP

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wdv2011-scenic-toilet-1 artist drive.jpg (346958 bytes)

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wdv2011-scenic-toilet-18 dumont dunes blm.jpg (408225 bytes)

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See the map of today's Bad Water and Artist Loop ride at: (click here)

See the map of today's Dante Delight ride at: (click here)

See the map of today's Stove Pipe Well ride at: (click here)

See the map of today's Upper Hole-in-the-Wall hike at: (click here)

See the map of today's Fall Canyon hike at: (click here)


Click here to go to the report of the Joshua Tree Junket - this trip immediately follows DV Dreaming.

Has Conservatism Lost Its Soul? The Tea Party passions are the rancid emissions of class-based greed disguised with flags and Christian symbols.

Click here for -- USGS article about measuring the span of arches.

Click here for -- fossil fools.

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