I wasn’t sad to leave Vegas behind, especially given the day I had lined up. But first I stopped for breakfast just up the road and the cafe had some peculiar alien theme going on. Alien stickers, t shirts, soft toys, anything really. After a bit of confusion I worked out it was due the proximity of Area 51, which is genuinely significant because of project OXCART which was the development of non radar detectable planes, leading to the development of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. And not actually significant but famous because of rumours of the storage, examination, and reverse engineering of crashed alien spacecraft there.
The temperatures have been unseasonably low all through this trip, that strong wind from the north bringing temperatures down. That was sometimes a problem, but in Death Valley it was a blessing, except that perhaps I was a bit disappointing not to have the full DV experience. I suspect that if I had the full DV experience I might not have appreciated it, but non the less. Temperatures were in the high 80’s and very pleasant indeed. The landscape is a wonder of dry lakes and dramatic sedimentary features.
It was all over a bit too quickly really, and photographs fail to do justice to it. I stopped for lunch in Stovepipe wells, and then rode over Towne Pass and then ahead of me are the Sierra Nevada mountains, all covered in snow, and Mount Whitney itself, the highest point in the continental US. Such a stunning part of the world, one of my absolute favourites. If I had to choose anywhere to ride it would be this far side of the Sierra Nevada.
There is a road up to the Mount Whitney Portal, and I rode up there, it was really dramatic to go from from below sea level in Death Valley to about 9000 feet under Mount Whitney.
The only way from there is back down, but my next objective was pure luxury. This mountains are formed volcanically and geologically quite young, and as a result there are lots of Hot Springs around here. Some are wild, and free to use, others like Keough Hot Springs have been developed. But for $12 I was quite up for a bit of luxury. It is delightful actually, built in 1919 and really historic. There is a warm swimming pool, and a massive 104°f hot pool all fed from the natural spring.
After that I camped in one of my favourite towns, Bishop California. Climbing Mecca, all round brilliant town, and on this afternoon as the sun shone after the rains, radiantly beautiful. Ate in one of the brilliant microbreweries, sampled the local beers and settled down for a happy nights sleep