March 13, 2013
The turn to Badwater, 17 miles of a drive you will probably never forget, bizarre, weird, eerie. You will note there is some green under the sign, yes, they water that, it is at one of the hotels in the Valley, palm trees, an oasis of sorts. Smacks your eyeballs, shocks your senses, it is so different than everything else.
Yes, we are driving on Badwater Road and yes, we are already 195 feet BELOW sea level.
This is what 200 feet below sea level looks like:
And, so is this. It was about 90 degrees here, it is so flat and barren it almost paralyzes my mind. Add another 20 to 30 degrees (top temperature ever recorded here, they say, was 137!). Killer valley, death valley, aptly named!
When we reach the basin, Jolly's GPS told us we were 283 feet below sea level, pretty close to the 282 the park says you are. That is close to 29 stories below sea level. I did say this entire experience was rather other-worldly, didn't I?
Now, this is taken from the parking lot looking away from the basin. There is this tall hill/mountain. On this "hill" the park service has a sign that shows where sea level is. Can't see it?? No, I could not either. My poor attempt at showing you where on the hill the sign is, says, "Left, is a marker, for Sea level. Really!"
So, let's enlist the help of much of Sony Too's zoom features, ohhhhh, there it is! Still is not all that easy to see! Remember, it is over 29 stories higher than I am standing!
Looking north(ish) up the basin, the salts and some water of Badwater Basin. There is even just a touch of a reflection of the "hill" in that water. This is called Badwater Pool, the water is so salty mules and such will not drink the water. It is the home however of pickleweed, aquatic insects and larvae. It just so happens to be the home of one of Death Valley's most rare animals, the Badwater Snail, who only live at the edge of the Death Valley salt flats. I did not see any snails, but, they are supposed to be there.
This is looking west(erly). You are allowed to walk on that pure white area past the boardwalk. I have no idea how far it goes. The fur kids were with us, and at 90 degrees we could not leave them in Jolly. So, we did not wander out very far.
A panoramic does not express the vastness, the strangeness, the truth of Death Valley.
Down on the walkway, breathtaking in such a different way.
From the board walk, looking back to the parking lot, can you see that Sea Level sign?? No, me either! But, I can tell you it is about 1/4 of the way down that "hill". Another way to look at it, only 1/4 of that hill would be ABOVE water if this basin were filled level with what we consider to be sea level. Hope you can swim!
On the drive back to camp we will make two more side trips, one into Artist Drive, where I got to fill up the soul a bit with some pastels that were stunningly beautiful. Our last side trip of the day would be a quick stop at Golden Canyon where the true power of water made itself know. Coming soon - -