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Death Valley Wildflower Tour 2000

Background

By the summer of 1999 we had ridden several supported bicycle tours. Ken shared some of those rides with us and told us how much he had enjoyed the scenery and gourmet food of the Death Valley Wildflower Tour. This tour was organized by Country Spokes, a family-run company based in Walnut Creek, California. During the following wet Oregon winter Linda and I decided to get away from the rain and travel to Death Valley to join this tour.

Itinerary

Day Start Visit Finish
March 6 Furnace Creek Badwater, Zabriskie Point Furnace Creek
March 7 Furnace Creek Hell's Gate, Historic Stovepipe Wells Stovepipe Wells Village
March 8 Stovepipe Wells Village   Mesquite Spring
March 9 Mesquite Spring Ubehebe Crater, Scotty's Castle Mesquite Spring
March 10 Mesquite Spring   Furnace Creek

Diary

5 March 2000 (Sunday)
Linda and I arrive at Death Valley by way of Beatty, Nevada, on a cool and showery afternoon. We find our campsite at Furnace Creek Campground and meet the tour owners Joe and Jill. We see our tent already assembled and our pillow and pad ready. Joe and Jill have just finished guiding a weekend tour in the valley and are expecting three couples for this week's tour. The second couple, Tom and Judy from the Bay Area, arrive late in the afternoon. Joe prepares hors d'oeuvres and a gourmet dinner which we enjoy at the picnic tables. The third couple, Wayne and Trish from Okotok, Alberta, arrive late in the evening after flight delays to Las Vegas.

Telescope Peak from Badwater
Zabriskie Point

6 March (Monday)
The six clients ride south from Furnace Creek to Badwater. After exploring the salt flats we return north to Golden Canyon, where Jill arrives with lunch. Linda and I ride up to Zabriskie Point after lunch and enjoy the scenic view of the valley below and the picturesque shapes near by. Many photographers have set up their large format cameras and are waiting for ideal lighting. We enjoy the downhill ride back to Furnace Creek and a very pleasant evening at camp. Over dinner Joe explains that we are a few weeks early for the peak of the wildflowers this year.

Linda and Trish Climbing to Hell's Gate

7 March (Tuesday)
We ride from Furnace Creek north and take the Beatty Cuttoff to Hell's Gate at the junction with Highway 374. Jill arrives with another nice lunch. From here we race down Mud Canyon to Historic Stovepipe Wells. We carefully ride our street bikes along a gravel road along the sand dunes, then up to Stovepipe Wells Village along Highway 190. Here we get motel rooms and have another excellent dinner in the pleasant evening outside.

Barrel Cactus
Silver Cholla

8 March (Wednesday)
From Stovepipe Wells Village we drop down the valley and turn north on Highway 267 toward Mesquite Spring Campground. The day begins overcast but dry. We enjoy the colorful barrel cactus and silver cholla as we climb. By afternoon the weather turns wet, cold, and windy and we are all very cold and wet upon arriving at the campground. We warm up in vans while the staff struggle to erect our tents in the cold wind and rain. The weather clears in the late afternoon and we have a lovely evening.

Tin Mountain
Ubehebe Crater

9 March (Thursday)
Linda and I hike west towards Tin Mountain before breakfast and enjoy the scenery and desert plants. The weather is cool, but dry. After breakfast we all ride to Ubehebe Crater and hike on a trail around it. From there we ride up to Scotty's Castle and enjoy the tour. We learn that yesterday it was snowing at Scotty's Castle -- no wonder the rain seemed so cold just 1500 feet lower yesterday. The return to Mesquite Spring Campground is virtually all downhill.

Alluvial Fan
Joe and Jill

10 March (Friday)
We ride mostly downhill from Mesquite Spring back toward Furnace Creek. We have our last lunch stop below Mud Canyon on the way and say goodbye to Joe and Jill and the other riders before continuing on to Furnace Creek and our truck. We repack our bikes and gear and start for home, this time by way of Bishop, California.

References

Death Valley National Park
USGS Death Valley National Park Geology
U.S. National Parks Net: Death Valley

Country Spokes

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