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30 May 2018 / leggypeggy

Time for a run in Death Valley

Badwater Basin, Death Valley

Poor John ventures off the end of the boardwalk at Badwater Basin

Our tour has introduced us to some of California’s extremes. After the lush green landscapes and grey granite cliffs of Yosemite National Park, we headed to Death Valley National Park. It is the largest national park in the lower 48 states, as well as the lowest, driest and hottest in all of the USA.

In fact, on the afternoon of 10 July 1913, the US Weather Bureau recorded a high temperature of 134 °F (56.7 °C) at Greenland Ranch (now appropriately named Furnace Creek) in Death Valley. This temperature stands as the highest ambient air temperature ever recorded at the surface of the Earth.

Badwater Basin, Death Valley

Don’t drink the water at Badwater Pool

Instead of Furnace Creek, we headed to a different record maker—Badwater Basin. At 282 feet below sea level, it is the second-lowest depression in the Western Hemisphere (behind Laguna del Carbón in Argentina, which sits 62 feet lower). Interestingly, Mount Whitney is only 85 miles to the west of Badwater, and rises to 14,505 feet.

We parked at Badwater for two main reasons—to let the group venture out onto the salt flats leading from the small spring-fed pool of water that’s so bad it’s undrinkable, and to let Fiona have a run.

Fiona is one of four Australians on the tour and a passionate marathon runner. She was keen to sprint 4–5 kilometres across the salt. I can’t remember how hot is was that day, but I’d have to be out of my mind to want to run even 40–50 feet on the salt flats.

Badwater Basin, Death Valley

Fiona (in turquoise shorts) finishes her 4-kilometre run at Badwater Basin.

I got a pic of her returning. She limited her run to 4 kilometres, so she had enough time to take pics and a few swigs of water. Fiona said no one was walking on the salt beyond 1 or 2 kilometres from the start, and she found the texture of the flats changed quite a bit as she ran.

Other things change the texture of the landscape. Every now and then, major rainstorms flood the valley, covering the salt with a thin sheet of standing water. Any newly formed lakes evaporate very quickly. In fact, Death Valley’s evaporation rate is so high that a 12-foot-deep lake could dry up within a single year.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley

Our group scatters across the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Joshua Tree National Park, California

The largest specimen in Joshua Tree National Park

On the way to Badwater Basin, we had the chance to stop at Joshua Tree National Park and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, which sprawls across 14 square miles of Death Valley.

The pictures below show the drive from Yosemite to Death Valley and then beyond. I think the terrain is stunning and oh-so colourful.

California scenery

Going to Death Valley

California scenery

Going to Death Valley

California scenery

Going to Death Valley

California scenery

Leaving Death Valley



Leave a Comment
  1. trE / May 30 2018 9:20 am

    The clouds in the last few pictures are amazing! You guys are really having quite a time! And yeah, I wouldn’t be near anything called “Badwater Pool”. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 30 2018 11:34 am

      I’m so glad someone besides me noticed how amazing those clouds are!

      Liked by 2 people

      • trE / May 30 2018 11:35 am

        I mean, you really cannot miss them. Such a great capture! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / May 30 2018 11:40 am

        I’m a sucker for clouds.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ralietravels / May 30 2018 9:31 am

    I can’t imagine running in Death Valley. We were there in February — and it was hot then!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. themomfred / May 30 2018 9:32 am

    We went camping here at Christmas one year. The days were pleasant, but the nights were oh so cold. It is fascinating that the highest spot in the contiguous US in located next to the lowest, like one was scooped to create the other. Glad to see you are enjoying the Western States. One often forgets how pretty it is from familiarity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 30 2018 11:35 am

      The landscapes have been incredibly gorgeous. Everywhere impresses and nothing disappoints.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. paolsoren / May 30 2018 9:43 am

    No Peggy, I don’t want to run in the desert. I am too old, it is too hot and it is not good for one’s health. I’d prefer a good whisky. But the scenery is spectacular and personally I like desert wilderness as much as I like mountains.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 30 2018 11:36 am

      I’d prefer a good whisky too, or a red wine. In fact, I’m having a red now.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. gerard oosterman / May 30 2018 10:13 am

    No running in death valley for me too. I rather read about it from the comfort of a deck chair.
    Good post, Peggy. I am a bit thirsty now.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Catnip Blog / May 30 2018 10:20 am

    You’ve now seen almost more of California than I have and I live here . . .

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Brian Paul Bach / May 30 2018 11:01 am

    Never been there, but wonder if you saw the otherworldly alluvial fans, I think along the doom-laden Funeral Mtns…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Explore with Kenneth / May 30 2018 12:25 pm

    Amazing! Didn’t get the chance to visit last time I was around – thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. lexklein / May 30 2018 12:30 pm

    Great photos of Death Valley, Peggy! It seemed much less colorful when I was there a number of years ago. I was fascinated by Badwater Basin, but it never occurred to me to take a quick run there – probably a good thing. You are having quite the tour, and I’m enjoying following along!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 30 2018 12:39 pm

      Very much enjoying your company, but glad neither of us went for a run. hahaha

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 30 2018 1:35 pm

    If’ I’d never been there myself, many times, I’d say you enhanced that last photo, it’s so spectacular. Because our sons were active in Boy Scouts for all of their teen years, we were also trekking around with them, often as backup support. So we’ve been to Mt. Whitney and Death Valley in the same weekend, and both sons have hiked to Whitney Peak. I’ve only gotten to Whitney Portal, so beautifully green and lush, only a few miles from DV. But, I’ve never walked out onto the Salt Flats – glad you had a memorable experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 30 2018 1:50 pm

      I saved that last photo for last: so glad you like it. Jealous that you did Death Valley and Mount Whitney in one weekend. Guess we’ll have to come back. But every day has been fantastic and memorable.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 30 2018 1:52 pm

        It was a run from bottom to top, only to prove we could do it, no way to appreciate either.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / May 30 2018 1:53 pm

        Oh dear, I guess we’ll have to go back together!

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 30 2018 1:55 pm

    No, no, not a RUN run – a drive! Once in a while I lope from one end of our driveway to the other, 20 feet, but RUN? Not a chance.

    (Good grief, I should proof read what I write to people.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 30 2018 11:22 pm

      Oh gosh, you made me laugh—’lope from one end of our driveway to the other’!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Andrew Petcher / May 30 2018 4:24 pm

    I hope you had your sun protection cream! Running in that is mad!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Emma Cownie / May 30 2018 4:31 pm

    I like the descriptive nature of the names – Death Valley, Badwater Pool, you cant say you weren’t warned. Obviously it just makes you want to go there!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. efge63 / May 30 2018 5:50 pm

    Kisses to you and Fiona!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Badwater Ultramarathon describes itself as “the world’s toughest foot race”. It is a 135-mile (217 km) course starting at 279 feet (85 m) below sea level[1] in the Badwater Basin, in California’s Death Valley, and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet (2548 m) at Whitney Portal, the trailhead to Mount Whitney. It takes place annually in mid-July, when the weather conditions are most extreme and temperatures can reach 130 °F (54 °C). Consequently, very few people—even among ultramarathoners—are capable of finishing this grueling race.

    The hike between Badwater and Mount Whitney (via the treacherous salt flats in Death Valley) was first made in 1969 by Stan Rodefer and Jim Burnworth of San Diego.[2]

    Al Arnold first attempted running the route in 1974 but was pulled off the course after eighteen miles (29 km) with severe dehydration. After vigorous sauna-training and desert-acclimatization, he attempted the run again in 1975. This time, a knee injury aborted the run at fifty miles. In 1976, training injuries kept him from even beginning his annual attempt on the course.

    In 1977 he successfully pioneered running the course, summiting Whitney eighty hours after his start at Badwater. Arnold has never returned to the course, except to receive the Badwater Hall of Fame Award.

    In 1980, Gary Morris of Marina Del Rey California also attempted to beat Arnold’s record. When temps hit 120 degrees F, he pulled out and didn’t plan to run in 1981. He worked out with Jay Birmingham and Jon Griffin in Marina Del Rey before the attempt, and Jay’s run from Los Angeles to New York City.

    The second Badwater-to-Whitney running was completed in 1981, by Jay Birmingham.

    In 1987, the crossing became an official, organized footrace. Five runners competed the first year. During the early years of the race, no particular route between Badwater and Whitney was specified and runners attempted various “shortcuts” between the start and finish. Adrian Crane, one of the competitors in the inaugural race, even used cross-country skis to cross the salt-flats at Badwater.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 30 2018 11:25 pm

      Thanks so much for that fascinating history. I’ll let Fiona know that many others have preceded her.

      Liked by 2 people

      • efge63 / May 31 2018 2:28 am

        Κeep walking and exploring !!! We enjoy also the trip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kisses!!!!

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Jun 2 2018 3:27 am

        Thanks so much. We’ve been extremely busy and no wifi.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Sy S. / May 30 2018 6:16 pm

    The scenery of DV and especially the clouds as mentioned, is beautiful. And I am sure that at nighttime the stars and sky are breathtaking! And at certain times of the year, shooting stars and meteor shows… must be fantastic. No, no, no… to running a marathon in that heat, nor any other marathon for me, me, me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 30 2018 11:27 pm

      Death Valley is considered one of the best—if not the best—places in the world to star gaze. Pity we weren’t there at night.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. beetleypete / May 30 2018 6:38 pm

    Living somewhere that has so much rain makes me yearn for a desert at times. I am sure I would be too hot, but would still love to see it. Great photos, Peggy.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. derrickjknight / May 30 2018 7:48 pm

    Most evocative. Well done, Fiona. Having run a normal length marathon on 88 degrees and high humidity, no way would I attempt Death Valley

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 30 2018 11:29 pm

      I walked out onto the salt so I could say I did, but no running for me.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Halpenny-Killip, Mary / May 31 2018 12:02 am

    Super cool. I’ve been to many of these places, so this is so enjoyable to have this opportunity to ‘come along’! Thank you.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Curt Mekemson / May 31 2018 1:25 am

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Death Valley over the years, Peggy. It’s one of my favorite places. I even biked across it on my 10,000 mile bike trek. I think it is quite beautiful, not to mention fascinating, both of which you have shown in your photos. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 2 2018 3:13 am

      Thanks Curt. It’s a place that’s rather hard to capture in photos. All so breathtaking. Biking it would be a huge challenge.


      • Curt Mekemson / Jun 6 2018 7:03 am

        It was, Peggy. I hit it before the heat, but it was still warm. And it was toward the beginning of my 10,000 mile journey. I will always remember cycling up the Panamint Range at 2 miles per hour. 🙂 The down side was a different story! –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jun 6 2018 11:41 am

        Yikes, 2 miles per hour. I can’t pedal that slowly so I’d be lying on the ground. Maybe permanently! 🙂


  20. pvcann / May 31 2018 9:21 am

    Now that’s hot – in every way – a place I’d love to visit one day, it has its own beauty and carries its own fame.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. shawnthompsonart / May 31 2018 1:15 pm

    Nice pictures, the desert is really beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 2 2018 3:14 am

      Thanks so much. Deserts are amazing and beautiful places.


  22. Jolandi Steven / May 31 2018 8:15 pm

    What a striking landscape, Peggy. I must admit that these drier parts of the world completely enchant me.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Invisibly Me / Jun 2 2018 12:45 pm

    Wow, even if I were a marathon runner I wouldn’t contemplate running in that terrain and weather like Fiona did either, so I take my hat off to her. Incredible insight into landscapes I knew little (nothing) about before and some fantastic photos, Peggy. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 3 2018 10:02 am

      Fiona is really amazing. So glad you like the landscapes. Pleased to bring them to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. chattykerry / Jun 5 2018 5:15 am

    Another achievable bucket list for me, although I think I might go in the late fall… My mum traveled through Death Valley on a Greyhound bus in the 50s – it just fascinated her.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. adventuredawgs / Jun 6 2018 8:43 am

    This northern girl can’t even comprehend temperatures like Death Valley but the scenery is stunning.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. barkinginthedark / Jun 20 2018 12:41 pm

    running in “Death” Valley sounds like so much fun. 🙂 continue…

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 20 2018 1:10 pm

      Yeah, it does, doesn’t it. You noticed that I didn’t.


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