Friday, April 10, 2009

Til Death do us part

Death Valley National Park::::
-largest National Park in the contiguous United States
-Badwater Basin salt pan= lowest point in Western Hemisphere at -282 feet
-record heat is 134 degrees Fahrenheit, only topped by the Sahara Desert by 2 degrees
-first humans settled here roughly 10,000 years ago (along the edge of a 30 foot deep lake)
-sparse yet thriving ecosystem
-surrounded by peaks 6,000-11,000 feet high
We werent' really sure what to expect before entering Death Valley. The name itself freaks you out. We entered from the west side and I had no idea the elevation gains and lows we'd hit. We would start at 5,000 ft only to drop to 1000 to raise again to 4500 before finally hitting sea level. Let's just say it was a good test on the new transmission.
The wildflowers were in full bloom. The sun wasn't shy either. It was rather "warm" for April, 85 degrees. I couldn't even imagine being here in mid-July.
First stop....the sand dunes!
Kaleb's eyes grew big as we approached. He begged Jason for a pit stop and I think we'd all agree that it was well worth the small walk out to the dunes. Ani couldn't believe how high some of them got. Who can walk on sand dunes with out trying "sand angels", rolling, jumping, flipping, hide and seeking and pure disbelief in the amazing natural landscape.
Avery loved looking for lizard and snake trails.
We camped at -200 feet below sea level on the full moon. The white clay and salt hills glowed in the moonlight. No flashlights necessary.
The next morning after the kids completed the Junior Ranger Program we continued on east into another great desert known as......Las Vegas. We are busy here exploring The Red Rock area. So far so good. One full day of climbing accomplished. Tomorrow is driving and hiking along "the loop".

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