Chapter 9: Death Valley

by William Bossen Photography

Heat and exertion are synonymous with Death Valley as well as things named after the Devil.  I am referring to points of interest like The Devil’s Golf Course, Devil’s Hole, and The Devil’s Cornfield .  The landscape is stark and harsh; a superlative desert of salt flats, streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and 3 million acres of wilderness.  When entering the park from the most southern entrance and heading to Bad Water, the eye perceives water at the basin of the large valley, but in reality is met with a huge eerie dried up bed of salt.  Bad Water rests at the lowest point in the United States, 282 feet below sea level.

Temperatures in the summer can reach up to 130F.   Believe it or not there are maniacs out there that compete in a race called the Bad Water Ultra Marathon.  This grueling race I first read about in a book by Dean Karnaze called “Ultra Marathon Man”.  This legendary event pits approximately 90 of the world’s toughest athletes—runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers—against one another and the elements. The race covers 135 miles non-stop from Bad Water, to the top of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous 49 states.  The icing on the cake is that it takes place in July, the height of summer in Death Valley.  Of course we decided to visit Death Valley at the most pleasant time of year, with an average temperature of 72F and slight cloud coverage.  Taking day hikes up the canyons, driving the famous Artist Road, hanging out in front of a campfire, and visiting one of the many points of interest that start with the word devil is actually pleasant in October.