There is truly no song that can better represent the literal and physical highs and lows we went through on our brief trip to Death Valley than Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
Back at Tamarack Campground in Yosemite, the draft from the back swing doors were tactfully covered by our Rumpl blanket. Mummy sleeping bags, a comforter and a hot water bottle at our toes made it hard to crawl out of our night of hibernation and start the day. We packed up as quickly as possible as you do when you’re frozen, working fast to get back to the warmth inside the van.
Finally, packed, thawed and caffeinated, we we’re on our way. Exiting Yosemite, we drove through beautiful lush valleys, soaring mountain roads, and changing foliage. We left the 30 degree, 10,000 feet elevations behind for the 85 degrees, and negative 200 feet below sea level lows of the largest national park south of Alaska.
Bellies full of yogurt, granola and excitement, we looked forward to the dry, low-winding roads, the ascending & descending rock formations, and the extreme landscapes of Death Valley.
There was nothing to prepare us for the unique beauty that we found here in the lowest, most arid, hottest part of the continent. Geology and climate’s best work we’re eye candy to us weary, wild travelers.
This basin-and-range landscape was full of surprises from flat salts to sand dunes. Sunken fragments of the earth’s crust we’re naked, scrolling, and exposed under blue cloudless skies. We welcomed the warm, windy air, towering cliffs, and nests of badass badlands.
We scaled Zabriskie Point like children climbing the stairs for the first time. Vertigo aside, we looked down from this peak of the Amargosa Mountain Range, to the remnants of Furnace Creek Lake that dried up almost 5-million years ago. Undulating wrinkles and cakey dried mounds looked like a giant dried out brain. A definite high.
One of the biggest eye-gasms was the scenic Artist’s Palatte loop; a 9-mile road leading to sedimentary hills faced with multi-colored pastels caused by thousands of years of built up volcanic ash and minerals.
Home for the night was Furnace Creek campground an open barren lot punctuated by a few Tamarisk trees; both evergreen and willow-like at the same time. We snagged a coveted spot under the limited shade of one of these trees, with a picnic table and fire pit. Flush toilets close by. Hooray!
On our hunt for an advertised general store, we turned at the end of the path just outside the campground to find a florescent green golf course, palm trees, and a line of golf carts. Little did we know that we had just stumbled upon the lowest golf course in the states. Haha! Life is funny sometimes, you never know what you will find in the most unexpected places.
After a cold beer at the little bar & grill we walked back to reality to make dinner, play cards, and retire for the evening to reflect on the many memories we created.
With all the highs came one emphatic low: only having one day here, and having to say goodbye so soon. Death Valley, you can count on me darlin’, we will be back.