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A Bike Trip to Death Valley
Friday, 9 June 2006
Tuesday 6 June. Furnace Creek Rest Day. Out and back ride to Dantes View.

This was nominally a rest day i.e. not a moving on day. However not many rest days are like this one which involved a 3.00am start for a 25 mile climb to a 5475ft viewpoint. We started at 190ft below sea level so we had 5665ft of climb.

At 3.00 am temperatures in the small Furnace Creek urban area were 96F coming down to 87 out of town. The lowest temperatures are just before sunrise. As we rode upward it was in utter quiet. The first vehicle we saw was one and a half hours later. We rode with the shining band of the Milky Way above us crystal clear in the desert air. Either side of us the dark silhouettes of rocky ridges and peaks rose above us.

Further up as the first glimmerings of dawn showed in the eastern sky Venus rose ahead of the Sun. We turned off the main road onto the dead-end Dantes View road. Part way up the sun cleared the ridges to the east. We continued with what seemed a never ending climb. The last 1/4 mile produced a sting in the tail as the road reared up with gradients of 15 to 18%.

The viewpoint made it all worthwhile with the most spectacular view I have seen. Below us was the whole of Death Valley 140 miles long and 50 miles wide in places. On the valley floor salt flats shone white in the rising Sun. The jagged mountains of the Paramint range lined the Valley to the east with alluvial fans spreading from their base. Canyons and multi-coloured rocks were visible below. Beyond the Paramint range some of the 100 mile distant snow covered Peaks of the Sierra Nevada were visible.

We had arrived at 7.00am and had the utterly remote view to ourselves for an hour until the first Tourists arrived. We descended back to the valley floor in 1 hour 15 mins. We went to the National Park Visitor Centre a mile up the road from our base and then returned for our usual lunch buffet.

I washed some clothes which dried in about 20 minutes in the by now 115F desert heat.

50 miles for the day with 5665ft of climb.


remote Posted by Edwin at 5:48 AM BST

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