Take it from me: there is nothing like a 47-mile bicycle ride through the desert in 90+ degree heat to make you forget about the 2016 election. My thoughts today were primarily concerned with water and how many miles I had left to go. And pictures, of course!
I started the day early, as I am still on Oklahoma time and thus waking at 4:00 a.m. What do you do when you wake up that early in the desert? Go back to sleep, then get up at 6, go outside, and enjoy the silence as you watch the sunrise.
These two ravens obviously thought I had food with me, and circled around, talking all the while. I told them I had nothing for them, and they flew off in disgust—still talking, of course.
I spent a little time exploring Stovepipe Wells, so named because the well was hard to find, and to remedy that, a miner marked it by sticking a stovepipe in the ground beside it. Here is the general store–note that gas is over $3 a gallon here!
Water is important…and free!
And of course, there is a saloon.
Once the group was together and well breakfasted, we took off in the van to Ubehebe Crater, which is north and east from Stovepipe Wells. Usually the tour visits Scotty’s Castle, but after major rainstorms in 2015 took the road out, there is no access.
Ubehebe more than made up for it though! There is the main crater, and a short half-mile walk up to a smaller crater, Little Hebe. That’s where I went. Here are some shots from my hike around there…caution was used, believe me! The path was loose gravel and, as you will see, erosion is ongoing.
This is looking into the main crater. And here is some of that erosion:
Here is Little Hebe:
To get up to the outer rim of Little Hebe, I went up this trail.
It was very narrow and steep, but the view out beyond was worth it…
Imagine being an explorer, or a pioneer, and facing that broken, arid landscape. Not totally barren though…creosote survives.
After hiking around the crater, we got our bicycles off the van and prepared to ride back to Stovepipe Wells.
It was about 11:30 a.m. by then, and in the upper 80s. At home, I never ride in the heat of the day during the summer. Here, I had no choice. My strategy was to go as fast as I could on the descents and flats, but to stop whenever the van was available for water refills—and whenever I saw something I wanted to take a picture of. Here we go….!
The classic Death Valley road shot…
And for all the physical geography buffs out there, the alluvial fans were amazing on this route! You could really see where the 2015 floods had carried sediment down the mountains.
And carved out entire washes to move the water down to the valley floor.
Near the end of the ride, I passed these white hills with the Funeral Mountains in the background…
By then, it was all I could do to finish! I think I drank eight bottles of water on this ride. But…I totally forgot all about election day!