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A few beginner's question

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:20 pm
by beginner95
Hey, I'm gonna be visiting Death Valley this Thursday for the first time, and so have a few questions, as I have to admit - am pretty unexperienced with deserts, especially in the summery.
  1. Visitor Guide from official Park's website mentioned about taking salty snacks for the trip. What salty snacks could you recommend besides peanuts, as they tend to mess my hands? I can't think of any salted food besides them.
  2. The Visitor Guide also mentioned about drinking sports drink, not only pure water. If I'm supposed to drink at least 1 gallon per day, then how much of that should come from, let's say, Powerade?
  3. The Guide listed some dangerous animals living there, as snakes, scorpions, black widow spiders. If I'm not first aid specialist, what should I do if I happen to be bitten by any of those, besides rushing to Visitor Center asap?
  4. Are there any larger animals that I should avoid altogether, i.e. even make a U-turn if I see them? The Guide mentioned only about burros, but one can just pass them slowly, according to the information therein.
  5. When it comes to those people who died there from the heat last week, then they must've either run out of water or their car/AC must have broken down, right? Is it even possible to lose consciousness while on a 5 minute break outside of a car with AC, even with those temperatures?

Re: A few beginner's question

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:27 pm
by kwalsh
Crackers, chips or anything like that is plenty of salt.

Sports drinks don’t need to be that much of the mix. Say 1/4 would be plenty. The real risk is that if you were to actually be exercising in that much heat you’d need to drink lots of water. If you ate nothing salty and drank only water all day it would upset your body. If you are just driving around and out of the car occasionally you’d likely never drink enough to have a problem. If actually going on a hike do it very early in the day and bring water, sports drinks and snacks.

There is no useful first aid for rattlesnake bites, scorpion stings or black widow bites. Just get yourself to the visitor center or other aid calmly and quickly. Treatment within a few hours will be fine for all of those in almost all cases. Really adverse reactions usually only happen if someone has some other condition (for example allergic to scorpion stings).

There are really no large animal threats in the park. In the mountains in theory you might encounter a mountain lion. I’ve never heard of this in the park though. For mountain lions do not run, leave the area immediately, stand tall, make noise, throw rocks and if attacked fight back aggressively.

Healthy people die in the heat there when they either run out of water or don’t drink enough of it. If excercising definitely make an effort to drink plenty of water. You lose water so fast in the dry heat that sometimes your body doesn’t signal the way you expect as far as thirst goes. Again if leisurely touring the park you’ll certainly be fine getting out of the car and exploring for 5-10 minutes at a time. Just keep track that you are drinking enough water. A good sign when not exercising would be needing to pee every hour or so.

Re: A few beginner's question

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:58 am
by Sparky of SoCal
Wear a hat. I know that seems so simple but it helps.

Re: A few beginner's question

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:26 am
by jacknv7
Probably too late to suggest that the first trip be postponed to the cooler months. I hope he checks back in as I'd like to know if he survives.

Re: A few beginner's question

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:01 pm
by D.A. Wright
jacknv7 wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:26 am
Probably too late to suggest that the first trip be postponed to the cooler months. I hope he checks back in as I'd like to know if he survives.
Wonder if his first name is Norman ... ;-)

Re: A few beginner's question

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:15 pm
by jacknv7
We may never know now! :drunkchug:

Would be interesting to know what kind of vehicle he was taking to Death Valley on his first summer trip and where he planned on going.

Re: A few beginner's question

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:28 pm
by D.A. Wright
I assume a rental. And hopefully he stays to the well traveled paved roads.

Re: A few beginner's question

Posted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 3:19 pm
by beginner95
jacknv7 wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:26 am
Probably too late to suggest that the first trip be postponed to the cooler months. I hope he checks back in as I'd like to know if he survives.
A lot of people told me that, but it wasn't that hot for me on Thursday. There were some clouds, but the temperature was still 44 in Celsius. I've never been exposed to such a temperature before, but even when I got out of my car for 15 minutes to see badwater basin, it was still bearable. I drank a lot of water too.
jacknv7 wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:15 pm
Would be interesting to know what kind of vehicle he was taking to Death Valley on his first summer trip and where he planned on going.
I own Ford Fusion but it had some shaking problems when driving above 60mph, so I just rented BMW 5 series for both reliability and fun. I planned to visit Badwater Basin, Artist's Drive, Dante's View, Ubehebe Crater and Father Crowley Overlook. It was too late to go to Ubehebe Crater and I had to turn back on my way to Father Crowley Overlook because I've seen some lightning bolts :???: I was going from Vegas in the morning, back to LA, so unfortunately I didn't have the whole day for driving around. I arrived in LA at 1am anyway.

BTW, it wasn't my first summer trip, I've been to San Francisco couple of weeks earlier to sigthsee around route 1 and in Mexico 2 weeks ago. I was going to LV from Arizona where I visited Grand Canyon. I moved to LA for my grad studies so I just wanted to take advantage of my last free weeks. It's gonna be hard to go somewhere by December having free only the weekends I guess.

Re: A few beginner's question

Posted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 3:26 pm
by jacknv7
Thanks for checking in with your trip report! Sounds like you had a great first trip to Death Valley. Congratulations! :drunkchug:

Re: A few beginner's question

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:04 pm
by kwalsh
Glad your first trip was a success!

Don’t rule out exploring DV while in Grad school in LA. Depending on how your classes and potential lab/research schedules work out you can into the Panamints and even Stovepipe for the weekend by leaving Friday afternoon and coming back late Sunday. Depending where you are in the LA basin if you can avoid Friday afternoon obligations you can probably get into the high desert before traffic gets awful.

Roughly where in LA are you going to be?

Re: A few beginner's question

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:54 pm
by beginner95
Oh okey, thanks for the heads up. I'm actually based in Irvine, 40 min drive to LA without traffic.

Re: A few beginner's question

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:14 pm
by kwalsh
Ah, yeah Irvine is much more of a hassle. Harder to sneak out of the basin before traffic on a Friday from there as you need to get over the Cajon Pass on the 15 pretty early and you have a bit of a drive before you even get there. Folks up by Glendale, Pasadena and even downtown LA have the option of taking the CA-2 and Angeles Forest Highway over the mountains instead which allows for a later departure.