Friday, January 11, 2013

Death Valley - Running Day 2

Ready to start day 2.

January 11 - The day dawned clear and chilly. After a relatively good night of sleep, I felt a bit sore but was refreshed and ready to go. The motel at Stovepipe Wells was a decent place, although the walls were thin, but the beds were good. We ate breakfast around 6:15am, got packed and ready to go, drove the seven miles back to where we stopped the day before, and were running by 7:30am.

What a difference a day makes. The irony of it being much colder in the southern California desert than it was at home in Pennsylvania today was not lost on us. The saving grace, however, was the lack of wind. It was virtually non-existent. This was great because yesterday we had to take extra care with various bodily functions. I swear that when I peed some of it never hit the ground. It blew away and evaporated. It also took me a little practice to get the snot rocket technique down (back to the wind, head back). We were ready for calm.

When you come across the only cornfield in
hundreds of miles, you've got to take advantage
of it, even if it is the devil's.
We had a little downhill (about 3 miles) when we started but then the long climb began up to Towne Pass at 4956 elevation. The climb began below sea level and climbed for 18 miles. This is the longest sustained climb in mileage I have ever done and is just a monster. The climb up the Grand Canyon north rim has more elevation change but it is steeper so it is over much more quickly.

We walked most of it. It was a long slow slog. It did offer great views of Death Valley as we climbed and I kept turning around and walking backward to soak them in. The fighter jets constantly flying over our heads provided some diversion as well. The temperature on the climb was mid to upper 30s. I can't imagine doing it in the summer during the actual race in temperatures well over 100 degrees.

We finally crested the pass and were greeted with a somewhat more painful task of negotiating the steep downhill. We ran some and walked some; neither one of them felt particularly good on the legs and hips. Numerous times Marvin would take off at a sub-8:00 minute pace for half a mile and Jim and I would struggle to keep up.

These are the great dunes near Stovepipe Wells. I
would have liked to hike out on them but that
will have to wait for a different trip.
We finally could see our destination of Panamint Springs Resort on the far side of Panamint Valley but it looked a long way off (and it was). After making it to the floor of the valley we still had six miles of flat and then uphill running/walking. We pulled into the "Resort" around 4:30pm, finishing a long day of 38 miles. Marvin's original plan was to stop 7 miles earlier but we felt okay so we banked a few miles.

Panamint Springs Resort is no Stovepipe Wells. There is no electrical lines coming in so everything runs off a generator or gas. Our room had a little space heater in it that wasn't turned on and it was cold. There was one receptacle in the room. We took showers (thankfully the water was hot) and went to eat at the restaurant. The restaurant was cold but the 10" pizza I ordered and completely consumed and the Coke hit the spot.

This should be our longest day. Tomorrow we will look to do 34 miles or so, depending on how it goes. We will then spend the night in a real town in a real motel at the foot of Mt. Whitney.
Finally at the top.

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