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Death Valley, CA
mini location map2016-02-10
20 by photographer avatarDallinW
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Death Valley, CA 
Death Valley, CA
Hiking avatar Feb 10 2016
Hiking15.80 Miles 3,038 AEG
Hiking15.80 Miles
3,038 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
After watching the sunrise hit the Sierra in Lone Pine, I packed up and headed for Death Valley along CA 190 to see the flowers.

I entered the park and headed for my first hike, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. After arriving at the trailhead and changing into my hiking clothes, I set my sights for the most prominent dune. There are no trails on the dunes, you just kind of wander around and go where you like, which was kind of fun. Hiking in sand was a little more strenuous than I imagined it would be. I had never hiked on dunes before, so this was a new experience and quite exciting. Following the ridgelines was fun and made for plenty of great photo opportunities. Running down the dunes is also fun, as its easy on the knees.

Next I decided to take a ride along Badwater Road to hunt for wild flowers. North of Badwater, the flowers are isolated to light, but below Badwater they are isolated to substantial. There were a few pockets where the entire hillside was yellow, and noticeable from a good distance away. I got out of the truck along the road a few times and ventured out into the fields. Smelled great. Looked awesome. I noticed that there were still a lot of buds coming in that haven't flowered yet, I imagine in a week or two it should be peaked in the areas which are substantial right now.

I made it just below Mormon Point before turning around and heading for Badwater Basin. The flowers seemed to have stopped after that point, but I spotted a few spots across the valley which were very, very yellow.

Badwater Basin was ok. It is probably one of those "one and done" things. I walked out into the basin about a mile and snapped a few pictures before turning around.

It was getting a little late at this point for another hike, so I headed to the Furnace Creek campground and set up camp for the night. I relaxed for a bit, ate some dinner, and then headed to bed. A few people in the campsite next to me insisted on having their headlights on the brightest setting, and constantly point them in the general direction of my camp, so for the first hour of trying to get some shut eye, there was a light show in my tent...

The next morning I woke up pretty exhausted. I hadn't hike too many miles the day before, but the last 3 days of driving and minor sleep deprivation was starting to catch up with me. I packed up camp and headed for Golden Canyon.

When I arrived at the Trailhead there was only one other vehicle, but by the time I got changed into my hiking clothes there were 3 more. I quickly moved into the canyon and was rewarded with complete solitude for the entire hike up until the last 1/4th mile when I finally saw 2 other people heading down from Zabriskie Point. The junctions in this canyon were slightly confusing in a few places. One spot had a laminated paper sign which pointed in one direction and said the Zabriskie Point TH was 0.5 miles away, and another wooden sign nearby which had an arrow pointed in the same direction but said it lead to the Golden Canyon TH (where I started) 2.0 miles away. What?!

After taking a small break at Zabriskie Point with all the people who drove there instead of hiked, I headed back the way I came.

The last hike I had planned was Mt. Perry. I was still feeling pretty exhausted, so I downed a rockstar to see if that would help and headed for Dante's View. Mt. Perry is accessed by continuing along the Dante's View Trail ~3.5 miles past where the Park Service says the trail ends (0.5 mile from the parking lot), and then following the ridge. Although Mt. Perry and the peak 0.5 mile from the parking lot are near the same elevation, the hike along the ridge isn't flat. The ridge drops a considerable amount of elevation before climbing back up to Perry. My research online says the AEG is in the neighborhood of 3000ft, so you're looking at something akin to a Humphrey summit.

The trail is well defined for the first mile and a half before you have to follow cairns when it crosses a boulder field. I made it about half way to Perry before deciding to turn around. The last 3 days were catching up to me and I had a long drive back to Phoenix. It was definitely the right decision, as I struggled a little to make it back up to the parking lot. Before leaving, I meandered a little bit along the opposite side of the Dante's View trail.

Overall I have somewhat mixed feelings about Death Valley. When it's good, it's really good, but a lot of it was kind of bland (sorry, Death Valley lovers). The lower elevations of the park seem more suited for those who like to explore canyons (not me), or people who just want to drive and see the park from behind a windshield. Then again, I may have just set too high expectations for Death Valley. I definitely want to come back, but it'll be either for Telescope, Wildrose, or maybe anther Mt Perry attempt.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
Substantial in some areas along Badwater Road. Isolated everywhere else.
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