Did you miss me? ZOINKS!
The Mile High team came for their annual visit a few weekends ago, and adventure was had by ALL.
I wanted to do RaceTrack Playa, and Mile High Guy wanted to do Titus Canyon, so we met up with Punkin and Kimmie, secured a rental jeep, and went off roading in Death Valley, baby!
Seriously – this was my second trip to the Valley O’Death, and while Furnace Creek and Badwater and the sand dunes are cool….but, whoa.
So we packed up the dawgies (We had Kimmie’s Sam for a sleep over so they could stay at the not-dog-friendly Furnace Creek Inn) early early and drove out to Furnace creek for breakfast.
Jeep was secured for the MH duo and myself (and B-dawg) and we headed for Titus Canyon.
The road to Titus canyon is a one way track – it “requires” high clearance. AWD/4WD is handy too. Alot of this “need” will depend on how recently the road has been graded and what the weather has been like lately. I could see this road being a real PITA after a rain.
At first, you pretty much are driving in the middle of the desert, just west of Beatty, NV. Then you climb a short ridge and start going up and down little hills and valleys. Its really kind of cool, and the distances are quite deceptive. Once you get over the highest ridge, you descend into a valley, complete with a cool little abandoned mining “ghost” town. (haunted? Who knows???) the Mile High Architects wandered and did some architect things around the buildings.
The last mile, mile and a half is a slot canyon – and the reason why the road is one way only. You can drive up the other way to the mouth of Titus canyon – they even have a potty and parking lot there, but you have to walk in if you want to go from west to east.
It snakes through, with really cool geological rock stuff too. I swear, if I had grown up in the desert SW, I probably would have been a geologist. Punkin IS a geologist, so going out on these trips is always fun. He’s also a history buff, so we stopped several times and got a school lecture. 🙂
We were probably a tad ambitions, trying to drive over to Furnace Creek (OMG, we left my house in Vegas at 530 AM.), drive through Titus Canyon, and then hit Race Track Playa annnndddd then drive back to Vegas all in one day. Fortunately, I got us to and from Death Valley, and MHG did all the driving whilst there. Fair Deal. We got home around 11pm though. Its a loooooonnnngggg day trip.
On the way to Race Track Playa, you can stop at Ubehebe (you-beh-hee-bee) Crater. Its cool. Magma. It was windy as all get out up at the edge tho.
We were very fortunate that the ~30 mile dirt road out to the playa was recently graded. Punkin and Kimmie said that a few weeks earlier it was stupid awful, and hence the recommendation for us to rent a jeep rather than risk my new shiney Suburro. Needless to say, the jeep was AWESOME (thank you MH duo), but the subaru could have easily tackled the road – we saw a Mini Cooper driving all the roads we were on. So yeah, it really depends on the road condition on any given day. On the drive out and back, you pass through this really neat Joshua tree forest – they are all about 6 feet tall and I can totally imagine some Native American story like Coyote froze these people here forever for some such reason or other. Seriously, they look like people. I just wish I had gotten a photo.
Race Track Playa is where the sailing stones live. These are boulders/rocks that have fallen into the dry lake bed and then have travelled (“sailed”) along the lake bed, leaving clear furrows behind them – some several hundred feet long. No one has really seen the rocks move, no one is 100% certain how it happens. Its really really cool. And the trip to Titus Canyon put us there in late afternoon – which is phenomenal light for photo taking. So I give you – the sailing stones (and The Grandstand) from Racetrack Playa.
The Playa was for me one of those really great, amazingly personal places of Moment. Look at all the rocks – all progressing on a different path, at their own pace. Some of the rocks follow in the furrowed tracks of the rocks ahead of them. Some only follow for a little bit, some just cross paths. All seemingly with their own purpose, with no urgencey. People come and document them on their path, in this moment of time. Sometimes I think the wonder of our universe punches through our reality and slaps us in places like this. You can’t help but be awed by how cool this place is. If you get the chance, do go see Racetrack Playa.
(note: Punkin and Kimmie were there after recent rains, and you’re not supposed to walk otu on the clay (and get up to the rocks) while its wet, so try to go after a dry spell.)
That’s all for now. Catch you next trip!