Thursday, January 3, 2013

Back From the Valley of Death

We got back late yesterday from a six day excursion in and around Death Valley National Park. As expected, we had a great time. Most of the time was spent exploring the eastern edges of the park, spending time in areas that most visitors do not visit. I took 789 images, Death Valley is a landscape photographer's dream.

The brochures will tell you that Death Valley National Park is a place of extremes. Believe it.

Most of the people that visited the park over New Year's didn't see any snow. The higher elevations had plenty. The above photo was taken in Phinney canyon, located on the eastern border of the park.. Phinney Canyon road used to go from the valley floor up through the Grapevine mountains and into Sarcobatus flats. Now, it can only be driven from the flats west into the mountains. Like many roads in Death Valley, it has been closed.

Titus Canyon on the other hand is not closed, though they will close it when the weather affects the road. Titus is a stunning trip, a one way road running from Rhyolite, NV through the Grapevines into Death Valley. Even before you drop into the canyon, the vistas are incredible. You don't need a jeep to get through it, a little skill and luck will enable to get most cars with above average ground clearance to make it. Though I wouldn't take MY car, I wouldn't have any problem taking yours or a rental.

A Cousin Jack is a small shack, usually one built partially into a slope. A partial dug-out if you will. Miners used them as a residence, often they were built in front of the mine entrance ar at least nearby.

Six years ago, my family found an abandoned Cousin Jack near the top of Chloride Cliff, a high spot overlooking Death Valley. As they are usually made of tin and are not insulated, we wondered if they offered much protection from the cold.

We visited it again this trip, this time in the dark.

It was a dark and frigid night. The temperature was in the mid-thirties and the wind was howling. It was determined that a tottie would improve our outlook on the situation and the Cousin Jack was near. Our wives all piled into two Jeeps, idling with the heaters on. Us men were banished to the shack.

I can't say we were warm, but I will say that we weren't miserable. It's amazing how six people, two dogs, a small stove and being out of the wind can raise ones spirits and the ambient air temperature. The totties didn't hurt either.

The reason for the drive up to the Chloride Cliffs so late in the day?

One of the best places to watch the sunset.

Thanks for reading,


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