Day Three in Death Valley, after camping up the road to Echo Canyon, began by getting up early to catch the sunrise at Zabriskie Point. We arrived and staked out a spot before most people showed up. I knew it was a popular place to photograph, but didn’t realize I would be sharing it with so many people.
As the sunrise got closer, the clouds thinned out and mostly disappeared.
I was hoping for clouds to reflect the color of the sunrise, but the clouds disappeared last night at sunset and now again just before sunrise. After seemingly weeks of no sun and nothing but rain at home it was a welcome change to see blue sky. The sun came up to warm the day and highlight the beautiful colors of Zabriskie Point.
We have a busy day ahead with more to see so it is on to Dante’s View at 5475 feet above sea level. After a long and sometimes winding road we arrived at Dante’s View. Below Dante’s View is Bad Water, which is near the lowest point at -282 feet below sea level, in Death Valley.
After leaving Dante’s View we drove south, then hiked in to some see some petroglyphs. Scrambling up the canyon walls to get a closer look, it was a long way down over the loose rock. There were a hundred or more petroglyphs on the rocks. Some of the petroglyphs are being weathered away, others are a little more protected. A common theme of the petroglyph designs is the atlatl, which is a throwing stick for spears or darts. These date the panels of petroglyphs around 200 BC to 500 AD. Amazing that they have been there for a couple of thousand years. Vicki was waiting (im)patiently down below.
We hiked back to the pickup, fixed some sandwiches for lunch and headed to Twenty Mule Team Canyon. After seeing the canyon in the middle of the day, I am left to wonder how great the sunrise would have looked here.
Next we headed back up Echo Canyon to see more petroglyphs. Beavertail cactus are blooming on the alluvial fan below the mouth of the canyon. Just as we were getting close to the canyon mouth the dark clouds rolled in, threatening rain. Based on the size of the rocks that have tumbled down the fans from the canyon, we didn’t want to risk getting caught in the canyon if it rained.
We left Echo Canyon and drove to Furnace Creek for ice and fuel. Leaving Furnace Creek we drove to see the charcoal kilns near Wildrose Peak. There was snow at about 7500 feet and Wildrose Peak was covered with it. The hike up the trail looked like snowy trip to the peak. We drove back down to Emigrant Canyon Road then turned onto the Aguereberry Point Road.
The last section of road, before you get to the top, is single lane through a narrow canyon. It was good that the pickup has high clearance, but we never needed 4wd. The snow level was about 1000 feet higher than Aguereberry Point. The wind was gusting over 25 mph, so it was a lot cooler than the 93 degrees in Furnace Creek. Looking north, I could see the sand swirling high above the Mesquite Dunes. The forecast called for the wind to calm down by morning. I was looking forward to the footprints on the dunes to be wiped clean by the wind.
We parked on the lee of the peak, cooked some dinner on the camp stove, and watched the sunset.
After sunset, we made our way toward a canyon where we were going to camp. We missed the turn in the dark and turned around to go back. We drove to the canyon road, but we found it was was washed out. Next up was plan B, but the road to Lemoigne Canyon was also washed out. Emigrant Campground was just back up the road, but it looked full.
Running low on patience and energy we headed back to the campground. Pulling in we saw the campground was full and there wasn’t anywhere to park. I asked a young man if there were any spots left and he said “pull in right there, you will block the wind. Then come and join us”. We joined several students from CAL (the University of Berkley, California) for conversation, plans for the next day, and the world in review. They were from California, Atlanta, and Connecticut. Thanks for the camping spot! Good luck when you get out of school, we were glad you invited us to join you.
The next morning we traveled to the Mesquite Dunes