October 6, 2011

Detour to Panamint Dunes

Lisa and I had every good intention of hiking to the top of Telescope Peak in Death Valley Nat'l Park on the way home from Southern California.
Something was intriguing about the idea of standing at over 11,000 feet and peering into the lowest elevation in North America, Badwater Basin at -282 feet. We camped at Stovepipe Wells and headed for the trailhead the next morning. We guessed that trying for an 11,000ft. peak in October was a bit of a long shot, but we were hoping for the best. Sure enough, on the drive to the trailhead we discovered the summit was covered with fresh snow. Neither of us were prepared for a snow adventure, and the idea of freezing to death wasn't immediately appealing to us. We got out the ol' brochure and came up with the idea of hiking out to the Panamint Dunes. The brochure said something about remote, and the least visited place in the park, so that made the thought of slogging 8 miles through deep sand sound pretty good. At least it would be warm.
It was fascinating and fun to experience the tricks of distance in the desert. It was dramatically further out to the dunes than it looked when we started. The desert was beautiful in October's soft light. It felt nice to walk, and breathe the clear air after the long drive, and past couple days in Southern California.

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