Death Valley, Day 3: Time to say goodbye.
As with every adventure, mine was also coming to an end. This was my last day in Death Valley and in the afternoon I'll have to start heading back, hopefully making it home around midnight, so that the following day I would be able to go to work.
Corkscrew peak (Workout details)
I go for my usual breakfast at Subway and then drive to the Hell's Gate. I have a bit of a dilemma there. Yesterday I climbed Butte peak instead of the Corkscrew peak. Today is my last day -- should I try to correct my mistake and mount the real Corkscrew peak? Or rather do the Wildrose peak as I was planning before? I settle for Corkscrew. I am wondering whether later on I'll be angry for having trusted a yodeling ranger :).
I start going up but I don't see any trail, so I just head in the general direction of the peak. After a short running stretch I'm reduced to a jog, brisk walk, walk and finally a crawl ;). It's tough and I don't seem to be making much progress. In parts it's borderline climbing. But it was supposed to be only 6-7K (one-way), surely I can handle it?!
It takes me a bit over 2 hours to reach the top and I make 1,100m elevation gain. I also meet one person on my way there and we briefly exchange greetings.
The climb was tiring but the view at the top is spectacular. I can see the whole valley and the view makes the previous 2 hours worthwhile.
I enjoy my break at the top but the clock is ticking so eventually it's time to get moving. On my way to the top at some point I hit the trail and at first I follow it on the way back but soon I get bored and decide to take a more direct route. Big mistake. I though the way to the top was steep? Pff. It was a walk in the park compared to what I have to deal with now, descending the canyons. As a result getting down takes me almost as much as getting to the top.
My next stop is the Scotty's Castle. There are two things to see there, the castle itself and the Ubehebe crater. I go to the crater first. It's a pretty amazing place, although I guess the photo doesn't quite convey that (click through it for more). I also discover another "most" of Death Valley; surely this must be the most windy place on earth! Wikipedia only dryly notes: Winds at the rim of Ubehebe are very strong and often gust above 50 mph (80 km/h).
Unfortunately I don't have time to walk around the crater; and quite honestly the wind is a bit discouraging, so I just walk a bit, snap some photos and am on my way.
My next stop is Scotty's Castle itself. Construction of this Spanish Colonial style villa started in 1922 and costed between $1.5 and $2.5 million. It was the idea of an interesting character, nicknamed "Death Valley Scotty", who managed to persuade a Chicago millionaire to bring this to fruition.
On the way to the castle I see a bunch of green tress which is such an unusual sight in this trees-forsaken land. The villa itself is also nicely surrounded with palm trees. Unfortunately yet again I have no time for a proper tour, so I just walk around a bit, take some photos and hop back to my car.
Time to leave...
So, that's it. It's getting late and a long journey is awaiting me. As it turns out this time the GPS directs me through some mountain roads, prolonging the trip (although thankfully this time I don't have to deal with traffic jams) and certainly making it more exciting ;). In the end I didn't do much running in the Valley, but it was certainly a good trip. Quite a place!
Do I hope that I'll come back one day? You bet! And for Badwater, naturally! :)