Finally made use of our tent in Death Valley, hooray! The campsite was just a big dusty car park really, we couldn’t see any tents when we arrived, but that’s just because they’d been flattened by the wind, it was so windy! Took forever to build the tent because bits just kept taking off and then we bent all our pegs trying to hammer them into the dust. Lucky for us a kind man in a campervan had been watching our struggles and lent us some stakes and an axe to whack them in with, think that’s the only reason we didn’t take off in the night. Death Valley is huge, 3 million acres of huge, the bottom of the valley is sort of a vast dusty wasteland but on every side its surrounded by huge mountains. We went to see the Sand Dunes first, we’d heard you could sandboard down them so we’d searched Walmart for something that resembled a sandboard and ended up with two baking trays. We probably looked a bit odd hiking up sand dunes carrying our cookie trays but we looked worse when we tried to board them down and they just sank immediately. Rob persevered but it just resulted in him falling off a lot and losing a flip flop in the sand. After we’d walked back down the Sand dunes and dusted off we did a couple of hikes into the canyons, even just 5 minutes off the path and you’re completely alone. Once the sun had set the sky just fills with stars, literally the most I’ve ever seen it was awesome. Apparently the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth was recorded in Death Valley, a whopping 57 degrees, fortunately it wasn’t that hot for us, just nice and warm and hot enough to camp without wearing a coat!
We drove to Badwater Basin in the morning, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level. It looks like it’s filled with water as you drive up to it but it’s actually just a thick layer of salt. We ran a couple of miles into the middle and as far as we could see in every direction was salt, we tested it to be sure but yup it was salt. Salt is actually really hard to run in, in case anyone was thinking about it, it’s like a mix of snow, sand and mud, not recommended. After a few more hikes we realised we’d exhausted most of the road accessible hikes within an hour of us, so even though we were planning on staying another night we thought we’d give ourselves a headstart to Yosemite and avoid driving 7 hours in one go in the morning. Rob spent 20 minutes getting those stakes out the ground whilst I emptied the tent, stuffed the sleeping bags, deflated the airbed and packed up the tent, but apparently his job was harder(!) 2 hours of driving to get out of death Valley and then 5 more to Yosemite!