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Sun Oct 14 2012: The Hottest Place on Earth

We're sick of the cold. So we're headed to the hottest place on Earth, which is conveniently located around the corner from where we are. Our ride to Death Valley ironically passes through a couple of ski resort towns, notably Mammoth. We notice a lot of dirt bikes gathering around the town of Bishop, perhaps there's an enduro happening in the area? I envied all those light bikes with their knobby tires...

Endless desert road in Death Valley

As we descend into the valley, the temperature soars to a blistering 38°C! This is *exactly* what we were looking for and we set up camp at Stovepipe Wells for a couple of evenings, basking in the heat like lizards. Overnights only dipped to a sweltering 28°C, and it felt good not to be swaddled in winter gear and wrapped in mummy bags! Just down the road, we hiked around the Mesquite sand dunes, they are marvelous:

Mesquite Sand Dunes

Popular spot for visitors - had to hike a distance from the road to find untouched sand!

Footprints stay in the sand for quite some time until the next rainfall. I've heard that in some deserts that receive no precipitation, marks in the dunes stay etched in the sand forever. They say that you can still see the treads in the sands of the Sahara desert from when Rommel's Panzers roamed the dunes during WWII.

Lots of sand in Death Valley, but the dunes are areas between the mountains that trap the sand

Begrudgingly hiking the dunes - it was worth it!

Yoga half-moon pose - almost...

Riding around Death Valley

We rode over to Furnace Creek and spent a couple of days there - about 200 feet below sea level. Death Valley is so hot because of the natural basin created by the high valley walls that trap the heated desert air, allowing no outside circulation. You know it's pretty desolate when they charge you $6 a gallon for gas - that's more expensive than Prudhoe Bay in Alaska!!!

Scotty's Castle - fabulous building in the north end of the park built by a multi-millionaire in the 1930s

Ubehebe Crater - an inactive volcano

Cracked floor deep within the Ubehebe volcano

Our neighbours at Furnace Creek campsite - Simon is not a morning person

We met Christina and Simon from Bern, Switzerland at Furnace Creek. Although not on motorcycles, we found them to be kindred traveling spirits, they took a year off, selling all their possessions to travel around the world. Unfortunately for them, their trip is over in November, but we spent a night at the Furnace Creek bar, getting to know them and exchanging travel stories over beer. Awesome couple!

Aborted off-road mission, Neda is coming to help pick my bike up in deep gravel.
Slightly sprained ankle for me :(

We left Death Valley feeling recharged, we wished we could have stayed longer in the desert, but we had an appointment to keep.

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