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Death Valley February 2019

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TrailHound
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Posts: 238
Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:22 pm

Death Valley February 2019

Post by TrailHound » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:03 pm

We were in the park last week originally intending three hikes. The weather did not co-operate. The temps were 15 degrees below normal. The forecast was: Day 1 cool, but sunny, Day 2 40% chance of rain, and Day 3 cool and sunny with 25 mph winds. I figured that we would play it by ear and see what we could get accomplished.

We stayed in Beatty, Nevada, at the Atomic Inn. The overnight low was 25. The cool temp may have encouraged the wild burros to spend more time in town.

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We paid the entrance fee at Hell's Gate and took pictures of two iconic landmarks: Corkscrew Peak and the Death Valley Buttes.

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Day 1 opened as predicted. We started hiking towards Red Wall Canyon. The desert floor here can be really rocky. The best path is to follow the blue line on the topo map that marks the wash. The footing is a little better here. Navigation is simple. Aim for the light colored splotch against a darker gray background. It is dead center in the picture and can be seen from Scotty's Castle Road.

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We got maybe a mile in when it started getting cloudy. Then, we saw a rain dump in the Cottonwood Mountains behind us. Hiking into a narrow canyon with rain in the area is not wise. Playing it safe, we bailed on the hike.

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So the day would not be a total loss, we decided to check out the pupfish. There were surprisingly few. Maybe it was a bit early in their season. Finally, a small school appeared.

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Salt Creek at dusk.

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Moon over Salt Creek.

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NOAA said that the front came in early. The rain chance for Day 2 was cut to 20%. The morning dawned partly sunny with thin, high clouds. We went back to Red Wall and reached the canyon this time. By the time we entered the canyon mouth, it was totally overcast and the temperature was dropping noticeably. Worried that it could be raining up in the Grapevines where we couldn't see, we cut our exploring short. What we did see showed a magical place.

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On the morning of Day 3, the winds had really picked up. The 25 mph forecast was going to be reached. We are not fans of hiking in strong winds: dust and grit blows in your eyes, you can't keep a hat on, you can't hold still for pictures, and good luck unfolding a map. We checked out a day early and went to Vegas for our flight home. The weather did make for some interesting landscapes.

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Mt. Charleston looked like the Himalayas.

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Death Valley Dazed
Death Valley Resident
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Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:24 pm
Location: Utah

Wow, gorgeous images and trip summary

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:54 pm

My favorite is the moon over Salt Creek but all of your pix are eye candy. Glad you played it safe departing the canyon instead of being another death statistic in DV.
Life begins in Death Valley

DavidW
Jayhawker
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:51 pm

Re: Death Valley February 2019

Post by DavidW » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:40 am

The burros are always in Beatty, like a long time friend. It's cool walking through town and seeing them.

Great pictures. Can't wait for our trip Thursday.

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