Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe
marypcb

Lowest point of our journey; I use my fifth hand

190 feet below sea level, to be precise... death valley today was much more like expectations with temperatures up around 84 and a deep blue sky; in brighter light the greens and pinks of Artists Palette are more intense (look right at the bottom of the second dip in the road for a view up a canyon to coloured rocks). golden canyon glows, zabriskie point flows away in folds of rock to the salt flats of badwater. from one angle a chunk of basalt beside the road looks like a head and shoulders. there are yellow flowers almost everywhere and a few purple and white, but heading out past Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells and the dunes the valley is carpeted in yellow. the dunes are carved in ramparts below the steep curves. beyond Stovepipe Wells we turn up a teeth-rattling gravel track to Mosaic Canyon. after a calf-wrenching uphill gravel path the canyon narrows so you're single file and walking on smooth polished marble. at first I thought the park service has reinforced the walls but it's natural aggregate of rock and marble, studded with colour. the marble is smooth and curved and at one point the easiest way to go up a steep slide was to turn sideways and brace with my back and feet; ah, Simon said, your fifth hand.
The road out to Lone Pine is dramatic; a climb to 5;000 feet from sea level, a long sweeping drop down to the bottom again into a salt pan than runs like a river, passing sand dunes blown into one corner and striped strata of rock - then up again in another set of hairpins, passing joshua trees silhouetted against the sunset and dust on the track that hangs in the air long after a vehicle has rattled along it, and looping round to a vista that lays out the whole valley from dunes to salt to peaks. The road keeps on climbing into the dusk and then down to the freeway and although we thought we might push on to Bishop, the lights and motels and restaurants in Lone Pine drew us in. Excellent dinner at the Merry go Round; steak and lamb and quite delicious green beans and a very drinkable local Mohave Red ale. And now for a little late night writing and then for Mono Lake in the morning...
Tags: travel
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