After being around the coast for 10 weeks, the 8-hour, 388-mile drive to Death Valley (DV) did feel a little freaky so it’s the subject for today’s Freaky Friday post.
The turn right from Route 395 gave a small hint of the 2+ hours it would take to get into the heart of DV. Long, flat, and, oh, yeah, mountains to get through. There would be many grades, up and down, as this screen grab from FlattestRoute.com shows.
The first leg from the Olancha turnoff on 395 to Panamint Springs is some up, and then a whole lot of down, with a lot of tight curves on sides of mountains just to make it more interesting.
In the photo below, I’ve made it through all those far mountains, through Panamint Springs, across the flat part (which isn’t very big, to be honest).
Then it was the series of big climbs to get up and over the second range between me and my campground at Furnace Creek. You can see this leg as that BIG stretch of yellow on the map above.
And just to be educational as well as entertaining, here’s the elevation and grade profile for the drive. In the left graphic, you can clearly see the two climbs and how steep that second one is. I’m happy to report that the 6-cylindar Subaru did a good job with the drive: 40-45 mph on the steepest sections, engine temp slightly elevated, RPMs never over 3000. Between this drive and the earlier stretch going through Tehachapi Pass (4900 ft elevation and about 30 minutes of pretty steady uphill), Bella got quite the workout and is probably as relieved as I am to be able to just sit at the campsite today.
After I got through the second set of mountains, I was rewarded with this view, looking way down the road to Stovepipe Wells. I still can’t even see my campground and I’ve been driving in Death Valley for almost 2 hours at this point!
About 30 minutes later, I’m up close and personal with that light brown swipe of color in upper right. It’s gorgeous, and I am getting pretty excited about the photography I’ll be able to do in the next couple of weeks.
I still can’t quite see my destination. I do see a lot of road ahead. The Garmin tells me it’s 30 minutes away.
I do make it there, finally, and quickly set up camp before darkness falls, then meet up with friends and hit the warm springs pool at the resort next door, a well-deserved treat after a very long drive through pretty but slightly freaky scenery.
Once again there was the desert, and that only.