Though I Drive Through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death

Adventures Of The Saam's

Adventure April 2013

Did You Know? - Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it is the lowest and driest area in North America. Death Valley holds the record for the highest recorded temperature on Earth.

Death Valley's Badwater Basin is the point of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. This point is 84.6 miles (136.2 km) east-southeast of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m).

Death Valley's Furnace Creek holds the record for the highest reliably reported air temperature in the world, 134 ?F (56.7 ?C) on July 10, 1913.

A birds eye view

AJ's Blow by Blow Description With Expansion

The first day of our Death Valley Trip was a drive almost due north to Lone Pine (225 miles). The weather forecast for Lone Pine was 61 degrees and sunny. When we arrived it was 45 degrees and cloudy with a 35 MPH wind!! An ominous beginning.

North to Alaska... Stop short... 225 miles only

Lone Pine Was The Turning Point.... So To Speak

Lone Pine is situated in the Owens Valley with the picturesque Alabama Hills lying to the west. Their unique appearance has attracted many film companies over the years. The hills were named in 1862 by Southern sympathizers, commemorating the victories of the Confederate ship CSS Alabama.

As the crow flies, Lone Pine is 80 miles due east of Fresno. However, there is no road crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains to provide access from Lone Pine to Fresno. As a result, the closest accessible large city is Bakersfield, 160 miles away.

Stovepipe Wells, CA

Another 80 miles until they found a place to crash!
Oops... Poor choice of words....

Did You Know? - The first temporary settlement at Stovepipe Wells came into being when a road between Rhyolite and Skidoo was begun in 1906 to ameliorate the approach to the mine at Skidoo. A collection of tents was erected to serve travelers with food, drink and lodging.

In 1925, entrepreneur Bob Eichmann began construction of the hotel at Stovepipe Wells, along with a scenic toll road through Death Valley. This marked the beginning of the transition from mining community to tourist destination.

Ubehebe Crater

Ubehebe Crater is a large volcanic crater of the Ubehebe Craters volcanic field in the northern half of Death Valley, in Death Valley National Park, California.

Ubehebe Crater is quite a sight. Glad I wasn't there when THAT baby went off!!!! In the close-up pic you can see people in the bottom of the crater. We couldn't see a way down but we knew that if you 2 were there, not only would you have been down there, but Paul would have discovered a BAR down there!!!!

Did You Know? - Ubehebe Crater is located at the north tip of the Cottonwood Mountains. The crater is half a mile (one kilometer) wide and 500 to 777 feet (150 to 237 m) deep. The age of the crater is estimated from 2,000 to 7,000 years old. "Ubehebe" (pronounced YOO-bee-HEE-bee) is a Timbisha Native American word meaning "Big basket in the rock."

The little dots are NOT ants... They are people.... Not too bright we may add

Artists Pallet...

Artist's Palette is AMAZING. I can picture geologists drooling when they see all the colors.

Take a lesson and make things beautiful....

One thousand shades of brown

Did You Know? - Artist's Drive rises up to the top of an alluvial fan fed by a deep canyon cut into the Black Mountains. Artist's Palette is on the face of the Black Mountains and is noted for having various colors of rock. These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (red, pink and yellow is from iron salts, green is from decomposing tuff-derived mica, and manganese produces the supercalifragalisticexpialadocious).

Called the Artist Drive Formation, the rock unit provides evidence for one of the Death Valley area's most violently explosive volcanic periods. The Miocene-aged formation is made up of cemented gravel, playa deposits, and much volcanic debris, perhaps 5,000 feet (1500 m) thick. Chemical weathering and hydrothermal alteration are also responsible for the variety of colors displayed in the Artist Drive Formation and nearby exposures of the Furnace Creek Formation.

The Eastern Sierras

However, the next morning dawned clear as a bell and I was able to snap the first three pics from the Motel. I believe that's Mount McKinley (Ed. Oops... AJ had one too many... Probably means Mt. Whitney!) in the middle of Eastern Sierra 2. I have heard rumors there's a movement to change McKinley (Whitney) back to its Native American name of "Big Wampum Casino".

The sand dunes were only 4 or 5 miles from Stovepipe Wells, where we spent the night. What a difference in appearance as the time of day changed. The accommodations at stovepipe Wells were really quite nice. Comfy room, decent restaurant and saloon, gas station and general store. Everything was a little expensive but I"D be expensive if you had to haul ME into Death valley!!! Yes Paul, I AM easy, just not cheap!!!

Did You Know? - Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m). It is on the boundary between California's Inyo and Tulare counties, 84.6 miles (136.2 km) west-northwest of the lowest point in North America at Badwater in Death Valley National Park at 282 ft (86 m) below sea level.

The west slope of the mountain is in Sequoia National Park and the summit is the south end of the John Muir Trail which runs 211.9 mi (341.0 km) from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. The east slope is in the Inyo National Forest in Inyo County.

A view to the East

April in the desert....

Mesquite Dunes

Did You Know? - The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are at the northern end of the valley floor and are nearly surrounded by mountains on all sides. Due to their easy access from the road and the overall proximity of Death Valley to Hollywood, these dunes have been used to film sand dune scenes for several movies including films in the Star Wars series. The largest dune is called Star Dune and is relatively stable and stationary because it is at a point where the various winds that shape the dunes converge. The depth of the sand at its crest is 130?140 feet (40?43 m) but this is small compared to other dunes in the area that have sand depths of up to 600?700 feet (180?210 m) deep.

The primary source of the dune sands is probably the Cottonwood Mountains which lie to the north and northwest. The tiny grains of quartz and feldspar that form the sinuous sculptures that make up this dune field began as much larger pieces of solid rock.

In between many of the dunes are stands of creosote bush and some mesquite on the sand and on dried mud, which used to cover this part of the valley before the dunes intruded (mesquite was the dominant plant here before the sand dunes but creosote does much better in the sand dune conditions).

Creosote bushes decorate the landscape

Dunes in the distance

Did you see the camels???

Going Home

We were disappointed about wildflowers.. There were none!!! The folks at the motel said the last couple of years have been dry even by Death Valley standards. Also, the wind was blowing like all get out and sand and dust were getting into everything so we just stayed one night and drove home through the Eastern part of the Park on Thursday. We had driven around a lot on Wednesday so we didn't miss too much. The last time there was good wildflower viewing was after "The 100 Year Flood of 2005".

Did You Know? - The winter of 2004-2005 brought an unusually large amount of rain to the southern part of California. In the populated areas of southern California the rain caused human hardship, destruction of man-made property and even death. Antithetically, in the desert areas of the state the rain caused long dormant seeds to wake up and sprout to life. A record winter rainfall of about 6.5 inches in Death Valley, made the 2005 wildflower display quite impressive. As a comparison, for the previous 50 years, the average annual rainfall at Furnace Creek, which is located on the floor of Death Valley, is 1.66 inches.

More than 1,000 native plant species grow within the rugged terrain of the 3.4 million acre Death Valley National Park, which was proclaimed a national monument in 1933 and gained national park status in 1994. Some knowledgeable people have said that the great number of flowers that blossomed in the southern California desert during the spring of 2005, was an occurrence that happens once every 100 years; it has been called "the bloom of the century.

Laura and AJ were only EIGHT YEARS LATE....

4 hours 48 minutes / 275.48 miles