Westward Ho - once again travel blog

hiking death valley

high point and low point

pretty colors from minerals

We left Great Basin early today trying to outrun the snow. But we didn't outrun the wind. Amazingly cold and windy today. Was actually 22 degrees outside the RV in the morning and 43 inside - and we'd kept the heat going all night. But on to Death Valley just inside the California border. The lowest point in the US - at 282 feet BELOW sea level. Also often the hottest place in the US. We were lucky as it was only in high 70s - but each day it climbed 5 degrees and by this weekend will be 104.

Nothing much grows here and very few animals. Although we finally saw a few lizards and some pretty spindly wildflowers. They are actually at the end of their season. Did a great hike through the hills and valleys where we could see both the lowest point - down in the salt flats and the highest point - telescope peak about 11,000 + feet above sea level - still snow on the peak. What looks like a lake is really the salts (mostly Borax) on the dried up land. This is where "20 mule-team Borax" got its start. A team of 18 mules and 2 horses carted out the borax 165 miles - and Chinese laborers dug it all up. The mine only lasted 5 years when borax was discovered elsewhere - closer to the railroads. The colors in the hills are amazing - a result of the various minerals which were mined over the years.

Death Valley got its name from the Gold Rush in 1849 - when the "49ers" brought their families out to search for gold and got stuck in this desolate land with no food and water and many ended up dying. They were a crazy and brave bunch.

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