Our trip to Death Valley National Park in 2012 was designed to be much different from our visit a decade earlier. On that previous visit, my buddy J. and I took in all of the requisite tourist sites — including Badwater Basin, Titus Canyon, Dante’s View and Furnace Creek — before donning backpacks for an overnight climb to the summit of Telescope Peak. Most of those sites were indescribably beautiful, but a bit too touristy for our tastes. The 2012 trip, on the other hand, was going to be conducted almost exclusively on the park’s extensive network of primitive dirt and gravel roads, away from people, away from civilization, and away from the security of everyday life. It took no more than 10 seconds on Death Valley’s treacherous West Side Road for us to start questioning the ability of our four-wheel-drive Suzuki, which we had rented at the Las Vegas airport. It started with large rocks and deep ruts. Then it alternated between rumbling washboard, loose gravel, holes and ravines, sandy washes and patches of powdery dust that swirled into huge, thick, brown clouds in our wake. Yet, we persevered. After a few miles of that, we turned onto the… Read full this story
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