Oct. 2, 2014, Badwater Basin to Shorty’s Well, 6.5 miles
All day I’ve faced a barren waste without the taste of water cool water
Old Dan and I with throats burnt dry and souls that cry for water cool clear water
The nights are cool and I’m a fool each star’s a pool of water cool water
And with the dawn I’ll wake and yawn and carry on to water cool clear water…-“Cool Water” by Marty Robbins
I push apprehension aside, twist my head on tighter, and step out of the car…onto what planet is this? I’ve never been to a place like this before. We are at the lowest point in North America, the salt flat of Badwater Basin. It’s located -282 below sea level and is one of the hottest and driest places in the world. Compared to hitching, this hellish place is a piece of heaven.
It’s time to hike! Walking is so good. Now all we got to do is push passed the car tourists who ventured a couple yards onto the salt flat. I’m glad I’m not one of them. I don’t want to be soft like them. Am I soft like them?
What’s not soft? The salt flat. It’s razor sharp. I walk cautiously. It’s dark now but we don’t use our headlamps. And then Oh shit! Carrot trips and gashes her knee three miles in. She’s bleeding a lot and the wound is deep. She throws some hand sanitizer on it and we keep walking.
The dried salt slabs break easily under our feet. It sounds like we’re destroying a tea set. My feet have never experienced this sensation before. Carrot and I make jokes about low sodium diets. It takes us three hours to walk 6.5 miles! Walking across the salt flat was harder than we expected.
I can’t sleep. I’m anxious about tomorrow. It’s going to be really tough. In 15 miles, we’ll navigate steep slopes and ridges to Telescope Peak the tallest mountain in Death Valley at 11,331 feet, from below sea level! It’s one of the largest elevation gains in the world! Now, add some heat into that mix.
Well shit, here goes nothing.