L2H Day 3: Crossing the Panamint Valley

Oct. 4, 2014 Spring in Tuber Canyon to Panamint Springs Resort 20 miles

We decide to sleep in and I wake up hungover from dehydration and lack of sleep. But today we’ll reach our first resupply point and hopefully bounce back from yesterday’s vigor.

Tuber canyon looks beautiful in the morning sun light, it’s complexion a radiant gold.

10003269_10101081429803060_2900786987394954676_n Just as I’m about to fill up water from the soup du jour, Jess comes back from poppin a squat and relays that she’s found a good spring just a few yards down the wash. Of course there is!

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I down a couple liters and admire the effort someone took to construct this spring. Was it Charlie, the guy who told us about the water sources? Charlie are you there? I imagine Charlie rides an Old Dan and comes up here to get away. Carrot and Orbit spend more time packing up, so I set off alone.

I walk along feeling like I’m being watched and glance up to the ridge to see a big horned sheep. I bet he’s been watching me for awhile. I observe him. I’ve never seen this noble beast before. I am ensconced by his beauty. I sense his agitation, he wants to get some water but I’m near his spring. So I bid him farewell and continue down the wash.

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In the spirit of being alone and searching for zits, I take a selfie.

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Not a bad lookin “butch” eh?

And how about a leg selfie?!

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I love my scratches, they are a mark of hard effort. My body is adapting to the desert .

Carrot and Orbit catch up and the golden halls reverberate our laughter. The wash is very enjoyable to walk down. Sometimes there is even a faint animal trail to follow, giving our joints a break from overland travel.

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Tuber canyon dissolves into the Panamint Valley and the route links up with a 4wd track. It’s a straight shot, so I put on my headphones and cruise to Neil Young, Dead deeeaadddd oooooo shot her deeaaaddd…  It’s nice to shut off my brain for awhile.

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We pass some old rusty junk, remnants from turn of the century boom and bust mining.

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The king is gone but he’s not forgotten…it’s better to burn out than it is to rust…

The valley is hot, It must be at least 100 degrees. I continually take sips of my water; water that is now hot enough to brew tea. I try not to gag, it smells like sulfur. My brain feels like mushy scrambled eggs. I think about ice water and fruit.

The route eventually leads left off the 4wd track onto a playa. The playa is easy to walk across.

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Look at mother nature on the run in the 1917s… all in a dream all in a dream…

We can see the Panamint Springs resort in the distance! OMG ice water! We shoot for it overland as the crow flies; which means were slogging through sand and little black rocks.

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We hit highway 190 and I walk along the white line to keep my soles from melting. I learned this from watching a Badwater Race documentary called “Running on the Sun.”

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Two cute guys in a convertible slow down and wave. Oh hey boys! I feel so fucking proud right now. I turn around to face the girls and fist pump the air like Bender in The Breakfast Club.

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I run into the store to grab my dranks. I have a three drink ritual: coconut juice, soda, and gatorade. This of course upsets my stomach.

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The guy who we talked to about caching our food is at the restaurant and he’s surprised to see me. “You made it!” His name is Gil, he’s the main cook, and he has a lot of questions for me. But I can’t form sentences because I feel dizzy from hunger and thirst. He takes good care of us though, the server brings us a big bowl of chili on the house and we eat too fast and too much. I think they like us here. I like it here. I like chairs and ice water.

“I wonder if our food cache is ok?” asks Carrot. I didn’t make it a priority to check on the cache when I got in, thinking it was hopeless. Surely the coyotes and cactus critters helped themselves. But Whadda ya know! The food bags survive the bush dwelling untouched. Even my meat bars! Well hot damn.

We get a site at the campground across the road. There are free showers and spigots for water! I wash the salt stains off my shirt and wrench the dirt out of my socks. I inspect my body closely. No blisters or butt chafe! I’m turning into a stout mule once again.

At the bathroom sinks I chat with an old woman from Holland. She says “Oh that’s nice” when I tell her what we’re up to. There are a lot of European tourists in Death Valley right now and they drive “Cruise America” RVs and don’t pick up hitch hikers. But they sure as hell know how to party! Across the road at the restaurant, a large group of drunk Norwegians sing acoustic accompanied classic rock songs like “Hotel California.” I can’t help but laugh at their lack of harmony. My party girl persona wants me to join them, but the responsible hiker in me pushes her out the fucking door. I want to tell her to not come back but I know she will reemerge again someday.

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Before bed, I go over maps and add my meat bars to my food bag. I hope I can sleep tonight. But then the wind picks up… that dry howling desert wind that cleans out your eye sockets, fills your shoes with sand, and drags your empty water bottles far far away.

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11 thoughts on “L2H Day 3: Crossing the Panamint Valley”

      1. Yes it is, no worries you hikers showed so much love this year I can’t believe I was able to shuttle the whole way. I tried to catch ya’ll at the end but you proved too fast for Stanley. I’m gonna have a go at thru hiking the AT next year. Cant wait!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hey Chance! So, I’ve been following Carrot for a while now and just picked up your site! I didn’t think anyone could top her writing but you are just as compelling to read. Great job! I’ll be on the PCT next year and I’m sure I’ll want to read your past hikes this winter. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

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