We expected the Death Valley to be the hottest and driest part of our 2,200 mile journey. What we found instead was a desert in bloom, moist from rain showers and pleasant 20°C. The varying nature and the sheer size of the valley left us stunned. Over the course of three days however, the desert would show its real face the further south we got.
Day 1 in the desert
We rise extra early on our first day in Death Valley as we wish to see the sunset before approaching the Eureka Dunes.
These waves of sand are possibly the tallest in all North America and certainly the biggest sand dunes to be found in California. They stretch over three miles being a mile wide and are covering an area located outside the valley. They have only lately been included in Death Valley National Park.
The Eureka Dunes rise against the backdrop of the Last Chance Mountains. Names promising doom seem to be a regularity in the valley of death with the exception of the dunes.
The onset of rain ends our photo shooting. While we ride downhill, the sky's water awakes the varying nature of the Death Valley. It is amazingly green, and colourful even with blossoming cactuses and other flowers everywhere.
It is the second day in Death Valley and as we cycle further south, the heat increases. Our plan for the day is to approach Ghost Town. When we arrive after a strenuous 10 km climb on a gravel piste in the heat of noon, we understand where it got its name from. There is nothing there.
We take our e-bikes ever further south until we reach Titus canyon. It is impressive and still there are signs of life wherever we look like the lively squirrel, flowers, and a humming bird.
Today, the valley lives up to its name. We sweat despite the pedal-assisted Haibikes and are dead tired at the end of the day.
Day 3 in the desert
On day three in Death Valley, we pass the sea level point. This means from now on we move below the surface of the earth's oceans. Or attempt to in Michael's case. His motor has problems but with some service, we are able to continue on our path.
It is the first night of not camping wild as we arrive at Furnace Creek. It is the location of Death Valley National Park's HQ at 58m below sea level. Lower even is the Furnace Creek golf course at 65m. It stays open even in the summer months when temperatures reach over 50 degree Celsius. Remember the names of doom? The golf club once held a tournament called the Heatstroke Open. No casualties have been reported though.
We finish the day with a spectacular photoshoot but the heat of the day has left us dead.