White Top Mountain Panorama
I spent five days in Death Valley last week. During that time, I took Sandy all over the National Park. I traveled from Furnace Creek to Scotty’s Castle then went west to visit the Racetrack Playa again. I like to take Sandy and follow back country roads just to see where they go.
In this case I was just southeast of Teakettle Junction and saw this road that lead to the east and up into the mountains. Seemed like a good road, so I followed it. I ended up at about 7,000′ near White Top Mountain and it was getting dark. I stopped to camp for the night.
It was cold at five-thirty when I finished my dinner. I cleaned up, set up to sleep in Sandy for the night, and went to bed. I knew it would be a long night, but I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal. I was wrong. I had picked the night that a cold front passed through Southern California and I was on the edge of the storm when I went to bed.
I travel with an indoor/outdoor thermometer, just to amuse myself in the morning as I look at the difference in temperatures in the FJ and outside. It records the lowest and highest temperatures both inside and outside. The low outside was 10. The high was 48. Inside it was a toasty 50. That was the high. The low was 29. Inside.
IT WAS COLD!!!
I travel with three gallon jugs of water which I store in the truck on the floor of the front seat. They froze. Not solid, but about two inches from the sides. All of my drinks outside froze.
IT WAS COLD!!
I was OK until about four in the morning. Then it just started getting colder and colder. Finally, at about six. I decided that it was time to get out of there, so I packed up and left. The sun didn’t come up until after seven and it took until I got back to Furnace Creek before the temperature outside rose above 50 degrees.
So, why is am I telling this tale on a photography blog? Because there are a few lessons to be learned.
One, prepare for the worst. I knew it was going to be cold, but I wasn’t prepared for it to be that cold. The purchase of a new, warmer sleeping bag is in the near future.
Two, because I wasn’t prepared I didn’t take full advantage of the situation in a photographic sense. I should have stayed up and shot around the campsite. There were some great views. I missed them because I wasn’t ready to shoot in that situation.
Three, it might have been cold and I might have been warmer, but I didn’t embrace the situation. I should have tried to enjoy the experience more.
The bottom line is that you need to be prepared for the situation you put yourself into and that even though it might be tough, try to enjoy the present.
The above image was taken as the sun set behind the mountains. It is a nine image panorama. I encourage you to click on the image to the original in my Smugmug gallery. Doing so will allow you to see the details of the image.
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Posted 2 years, 5 months ago at 9:53 pm. 1 comment
Day three started cold and bright. I had taken two sleeping bags to test in the new sleeping rig. I was trying out the warmer of the two this night. Good thing, it was below freezing during the night, but the car and bag combination was great. I was warm and toasty.
After breakfast, I started back up the Racetrack Road, stopping at the Racetrack Playa. This time stopping at the south end to look at the water on the playa. I am not sure that there will be any tracks left because the whole thing was under water, but we’ll see.
Rock in the Water on the Racetrack Playa
The plan was to not drive back the same way that I drove into the valley. I was going to go back southwest over Hunter Mountain. Along the way I stopped by the Lost Burro Mine.
Lost Burrow Mine Sign
This was a VERY interesting place. The shack was open or at least unlocked, so that you could go into the place and take pictures of the contents. I made it a point not to touch anything and was very careful to lock it back up as I left. There was also an outhouse, which is unfortunately still in use. I thought the most interesting part was a mine shaft that went into the hill opposite the main mine. I didn’t go into it because I was alone, but I think that it was not that dangerous. The main mine shaft was covered, but the structure was still standing and made for some interesting images.
Front of LBM Shack
The Interior of the LBM Shack
B&W Image of LBM Shack Items
Inside of Small Shaft at LBM
Wheelbarrow at the LBM
LBM Wheelbarrow and Mine Structure
The road to (and from) The Lost Burro mine is kind of narrow.
Access Road to LBM
After leaving the mine, I headed toward Hunter Mountain. I followed the basic map given out by the ranger’s station and had a good topo map also. What did I find? Nothing. The roads that I found on the map weren’t open. Even the ones that were, weren’t always easy to pass through. I got stuck once in a patch of snow, but after digging, backing, and taking a run at it I got through. Again, the FJ was a blessing and fun.
FJ Tracks in the Snow
I think if I had explored a bit more, I would have found a way to get there. Why didn’t I? I was below half on the fuel gauge. I thought that getting to the only gas station for several miles, like 100 miles, would be a good idea before I ran out of gas. Therefore, I turned around and drove out on the Racetrack Road.
The results of two days of playing in the mud are obvious.
There is Even Mud on the Roofrack!!
A Muddy FJ is a Happy Fj
Before I got to Furnace Creek for gas, I stopped at Salt Creek. Salt Creek is a natural spring that, due to the geology of the area, has as much salt in the water as the ocean. It takes a very specialized organism to live there. Pup Fish and Pickle Plant were the two that I saw. As the sun went down, I got this awesome shot of the sunset reflected in the creek . I took a series of five images at one stop apart and merged them in Photomatix Pro to produce this HDR.
Sunset at Salt Creek HDR
After getting gas it was off to pick a site in the Sunset Campground. Eat, rest, sleep.
You can see more image of Death Valley here.
Posted 3 years, 3 months ago at 7:53 am. Add a comment
The intent was to spend three days in Death Valley exploring the land, taking some pictures, and testing out the new FJ. I thought that being in the winter, it wouldn’t be very crowded and the fact we had a storm go through the area so I thought that there would have a sky full of clouds for the pictures I planned to take. In addition, the backcountry roads would be great to drive on; muddy, but safe. Everything went according to plan. Except the timing.
I started out early morning, stopped in Barstow for supplies, and arrived in Death Valley at about two in the afternoon. My first stop was going to be a short drive in Twenty Mule Team Canyon, but when I got there it was closed due to mud slides. Ok, not a big deal. I drove up to the top of Titus Canyon. Nope, closed due to mud and debris in the canyon.
It was now almost five and while coming back from the Titus Canyon I saw the next site, the Stovepipe Wells sand dunes.
Stovepipe Dunes from Titus Canyon road.
It was fascinating to see from a distance. When I got to the spot I wanted to take my images. The first spot was in the Devil’s Cornfield where I could get a view of both the plants and the dunes.
The second spot was closer to dunes where I could walk out into the near dunes and take pictures there. From both sites the views of the dunes were amazing.
Stovepipe Dunes at Sunset
Stovepipe Dunes at Sunset
While walking out toward the dunes, I got the chance to shoot some of the detail in the sand.
I spent that night in the Stovepipe Wells campground and woke up early to start day two.
All of the Death Valley images can be seen here.
Posted 3 years, 3 months ago at 8:32 am. Add a comment