Death Valley is rightly named. It’s hell in summer. It was almost hellish at the beginning of May.
Why’s it so hot? I’m glad you asked! Oh, you didn’t? Too bad, because this is more interesting than cats farting on Chive…
First, Death Valley’s floor’s 282′ below sea level. Then, mountains rising over a mile high above surround that floor. Hot air rising from the bottom can’t escape. It rises to cooler temperatures, then wants to sink, as all air does. But, it can’t be pushed out of the valley by the newly rising air because those mountains keep that cooler air in, which compresses the hot air at the bottom, thus super heating the air and ground, to the point of making one of the hottest places on earth.
On July 10th 1913 – 5 months and 2 weeks before the Money Power of Europe created their monstrous Federal Reserve Bank – the highest reliably recorded temperature on the earth’s surface was recorded at Furnace Creek at 134 Fahrenheit. Some contest this. Some say it was 136 in Libya in 1922. Some say that 134 at Furnace Creek is too high, but still say 129 recorded on five distinct Death Valley dates is valid.
Regardless, that’s hot! Though August is the hottest month, Saturday May 29th hit 95, and Sunday the 30th hit 100. That sucks for van camping. So I spent only one night there…
But I’m glad I went. Had to quell my curiosity. Had to stand on the mountains above the valley and see what dynamics create this furnace. Clouds, mountains, valleys, creeks, trees, brush all say things…
So, left Lone Pine and took CA 136 to CA 190 into the Park. ‘T was unremarkable desert landscape for much of the way. Then, lo, the Panamint Valley, as you see in the photo at the top. The whole place spoke heat.
Then made it into Death Valley. The temperature was 95. Not a cloud was in the sky.
Found the Furnace Creek campground. Took a 2.5 hour walk along the road for some exercise before returning to my van for sleep, where I slept awesomely the whole trip, even though I could feel metal in my back all night.
Sunday the 30th was… hot. Took a hike in the morning. Checked out the top things to see according to Trip Advisor.
First took the Artists Drive. The highlight is the base of a black mountain that has a many bright colors, including turquoise, caused by oxidation of various metals, as seen in the photo above.
Then went to the Badwater Basin. Walked out on the dry lake bed for some time. It would have been better were it under 80. But this is the epicenter of heat. After my seven mile hike that morning, I didn’t feel like continuing to the middle of the lake bed.
Then went to Zabriskie point. Nice, but not spectacular.
Then I caved in, and had beer. It’d been over three months. But an IPA in the 100 degrees was just too tempting… and of course that turned into a big pizza also, because Mr. Tummy hadn’t been so spoiled for so long.
Then headed to Dante’s Peak, which overlooks the Badwater Basin from over a mile above, which is in the photo to the right. Spent about 20 minutes there before saying to hell with the heat. Headed for Nevada, and home.
I’d go back, in winter only. The heat kills all charm. But if life never brings me back, ok. It ain’t that cool, and I can’t imagine what Europeans go through when they come here in August, because, to them, Death Valley is another spot on the map while journeying across America. This makes me laugh though.