Saturday, January 12, 2013

Death Valley - Running Day 3

Obligatory start of the day photo.
Jim and the Joshua tree.
 January 12 - Today I learned the desert can be a really cold place. After a reasonably good night at the Panamint Springs "Resort," we woke up to 20 degree temperatures for the start of our third day. We got started at about 7:15am and were greeted with a 15 mile climb and a stiff wind in our faces.

Today's climb was not as steep, overall, and not as long as yesterday's climb, but the weather was not as favorable. As we got close to 5000 feet the road leveled off and was rolling for many miles. This was high desert and we had nowhere to hide. The wind, while not nearly as strong as day 1, was tough because of the cold.

We finally got our last glimpses of the Panamint Valley and saw the Sierra Nevada range and Mt. Whitney in the distance. The snow-capped peaks were truly impressive against the clear blue sky. After what seemed like a long time at the top, we finally began the long descent towards Keeler. The descent is not nearly as long as our previous descents because Keeler's elevation is 3610 feet.

After 35 miles we finally ended up at Keeler, where Doug picked us up and drove us to our motel in Lone Pine. Tomorrow we will have 15 miles of relatively flat running before turning onto Portal Road and beginning the ascent of Mt. Whitney. Overall mileage tomorrow will be about 27 miles, although we will most likely need to walk back down a mile or more after we reach the portal because the road may be closed to vehicles due to snow.

First good glimpse of Mt. Whitney in the background.
We were all a little more quiet today as the going got a bit tougher. There was a lot of walking as the little tweaks from the previous days began to manifest themselves as more frequent and painful aches. All of the pavement is a killer. I have been trying to walk in the dirt on the side of the road as much as possible but there was less shoulder today and the road on much of the route was heavily banked due to the hairpin turns. My feet are beat up but I only have one blister so far, which is good. Marvin's foot has been giving him a lot of trouble and has made him limp earlier every day. I believe we will be fine tomorrow but there will definitely be some pain.

Last long stretch of road into Keeler, our stopping place for
the day, with the Sierra Nevada range on the left.
The sights during the first three days have been excellent. Although there isn't a lot of vegetation around, the shift in plant life and colors of the earth and mountains have been interesting. It was great to see the Joshua trees today. The rock and snow of the Sierras stand in sharp contrast to the dry environment that we have been through. I am looking forward to the experience of the climb tomorrow, as long as I wake up and can still walk. I'm not exactly looking forward to the 16 degree temperatures forecast for the morning but what can you do?

No comments:

Post a Comment