S: Defying Death Valley Spring 2010
FC: Defying Death Valley | Spring 2010
2: Death Valley is a land of extremes, so say the park brochures. When we went in the spring, we found it to be a land of great geologic beauty.I tried to get past my earth science textbook concepts ("alluvial fan!" "erosion, deposition!" "metamorphic, sedimentary, igneous!") and just enjoy the sightseeing. But we couldn't help but marvel in God's creation - these were big rocks, all different colors, and lots of them!
5: Mesquite Spring - Our home for the week
9: Mosaic Canyon's granite boulders have been polished by the elements over time. I enjoyed picking up pieces of silicate as we snaked our way down skinny narrows and wide-open rock wash.
11: The chuckwalla is the park's largest lizard. It stores enough fluid from the plants it eats to survive without ever drinking water.
12: Badwater is an example of what forms at one of the hottest, driest, and lowest places on earth. The valley was once covered in lakes, but now all that remains are the salt and sulfate that few animals, such as the pupfish, a particular type of snail, beetles, and soldier fly larvae can survive in.
23: Titus Canyon is the tightest canyon! The drive is several miles out on a one-way road. When you finally get to the canyon, steep grades reveal intimidating yet impressive views of multicolored rocks and soil. Continue down to learn more not only of its geologic past, but its human inhabitants.
28: The ghost town of Leadfield existed for only a year in the 1920s. Investors were duped into mining for riches of false lead ore.
29: We were able to walk among rusted abandoned cars, empty cans, the remains of shacks, and what appeared to be a tavern.
30: Still in Titus Canyon at an area called Klare Spring are petroglyphs, chiseled into the rock. Some of the symbols identified are the sun, a marker for the spring, bighorn sheep, and a basket.
33: Artist Drive and this particular area, Artist Palette, is one of the most beautiful places in the park, especially before sundown. Oxidation of the clay from ancient lakebed sediments has produced a rainbow of colors: purple, green, red, orange, yellow, black, and brown.
35: We tried an alternate route back by wedging ourselves between the crevices of the gorges. At times, it was so tight that we had to remove our backpacks to squeeze through!
37: Fall Canyon is another fun hike past many narrows. However, it's quite a workout, as with every step, your feet sink down into the piled gravel trails of a large wash. We didn't make all the way to the highest rock fall, but were still mesmerized by the towering rock strata above and all around us. | Steven building a cairn (trail marker)
40: At Darwin Falls, a desert oasis, most people stop at the lower falls, but don't realize if they climb up and over the rocks , they will find seven more waterfalls which are even more spectacular.
42: On the way back home from Death Valley, we were contemplating where to stop for dinner. In Traver, near Visalia, we started seeing a series of signs for Bravo Cheese Factory. With messages like "Stop here!" "Best cheese you'll ever try!" "Come on, you know you want to!" You won't regret it!" we were sold. When we pulled over, we were so surprised to find the cutest roadstop in the middle of nowhere. In addition to offering cheese samples and gourmet foods in the cute gift shop, there was a diner, ice cream shop, five-story tree house, charming garden, and petting farm! Everything was covered in old signs and retro kitsch.
43: For 25 cents admission, enter the five-story treehouse. Inside, it was fully decorated. Tiny ladders led you to each level, and even onto the balcony. | This friendly donkey loved to be petted!