You’ll see in these photos from yesterday’s hike, the clouds are starting to move. Death Valley is one of the driest places on earth, so naturally, today while I’m here it’s raining. However, I could use a bit of a rest, need to do some laundry and would like to get these posts, uh, posted, so I’ve traveled a mere 60 miles, to Pahrump, Nevada. It’s the nearest real town and certainly the nearest town with cell coverage and access to the internet.
“Walmarts and Laundromats”. It could be the subtitle to my web page.
In fact, yesterday I had a totally different plan. I went 60 miles in the other direction, to the west side of the park to hike into the Panamint Sand Dunes. It wasn’t till I got to the trailhead I realized I’d forgotten my hiking shoes. GRRRRR!!!! If my damn head wasn’t attached…. Zero chance I’m trekking through the desert in my, “loaf about my campsite shoes.” At least it’s a fabulous drive…..both ways. So when I got back I called an audible and headed over to Gold Canyon.
This is the closest trail to Furnace Creek which is where I, and the vast majority of park visitors, are staying. The parking lot is always full and I expected the trail to be packed as well. It was pleasantly surprising to find that not to be the case. Most stick to Gold Canyon proper. I was making it a loop, starting up Gower Gulch to the Badlands Loop before returning down Gold Canyon. This, by-the-way, is how I would recommend you do this hike should you find yourself here. Not only does the scenery build in beauty, but it is by far the easier direction to travel. Up hill for the first few miles is very gentle. Barely noticeable actually, while the return back down can be very steep at times.
Geek Alert! Remember Star Wars? The first one. Ok, really, the 4th one, but only because…… Look, I just mean the original movie. Those scenes on Tatooine, particularly with R2D2 and C3PO trekking through the desert. They were shot in Tunisia. Did you know that? Tunisia! Seems an awfully long way to go at great expense when there is scenery like this a days drive from Hollywood.
Cloudy-ish skies do even more to mute the colors than my iPhone, to my chagrin.
Once you get up to where you can see, a bit above you, the Zabriskie Point overlook, the loop intersects with the other trail and turn back toward Gold Canyon. It’s a short, steep climb and you then the scenery changes to this…
It’s a couple of miles back, most of it up and down and through these fabulous formations, until the last mile puts you actually in Gold Canyon to the parking lot.