[CART09] Death Valley
After spending the front half of the trip in the "highlands", today we descended into the lowest part of our continent: Death Valley National Park, with one of the lowest points in the world (Badwater Basin, elev. -282'). Death Valley is so named because, during the Gold Rush of 1849, a group of "misinformed prospectors" crossed the eastern rim and -- facing the daunting Paramint Mountains to the west -- spent an arduous month crossing the valley and the western rim.
I wonder if pal Tony (who routinely hits drives longer than 300 yards in the high country of central Colorado) can still muscle the ball as far in this thick air?
Despite the oppressive temperatures, there's still water in Badwater Basin. In fact, the springs around Death Valley (particularly near the sand dunes at the west gate) are home to the hardy and adaptive "pupfish" -- a fish that evolved from the native stock of the ancient Manley Lake that filled this valley with water as the glaciers receded during the last Ice Age. The pupfish thrives in water that is over 90° F. and five times the salinity of ocean water.
Speaking of heat, the car's "outside thermometer" read 117° F. at 1:17pm PDT, just after we departed Badwater Basin. (It later climbed to 119° F.)