Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Death Valley in February

The weather has been unpredictable recently in northern Nevada, and I've been eluding the winter blues for weeks. Warmth, sun, and a change of scenery are what I needed. So, we (me, John, and Sheryl) headed down south last weekend to get away from the temperamental temperatures in northern Nevada, and to do a little running and exploring in one of our country's most desolate National Parks, Death Valley.

John was a trooper and ready to go for his half-marathon pretty early on Saturday. I was a pooper. But after a lot of hemming and hawing and declaring that "I just didn't feel like it, so I'm not going to run," it seemed silly to go back to camp to just drink coffee. So I shuffled into the registration area in my pajamas and finally picked up my race number, hurried back to camp to change out of my pajamas where I could not for the life of me find my running bra and resorted to doubling up 2 other bras instead (sorry for all the gory details, but this is not an ideal situation at all. later I did find the offending bra zipped between two tent doors, which is ridiculous). John and I then left Sheryl sleeping to go to the race start. Envirosports, the race organizers, did a great job with everything. The runs were all below sea level, but much hillier than we expected. John did great and finished feeling good, although he looked less than spry in the days following, and I did better than I expected with a January-lag in training (!

With the runs done, we headed out to explore. Number one on my list and a well-known attraction was the Racetrack where rocks, water, and wind work together on a playa to make some pretty amazing impressions. It looked like it had been a while since the playa had seen water, but we did manage to find some good trails.

On the way out, we also stopped to look at the brilliant colors on the Ubehebe crater wall.

Of course, no trip to Death Valley is complete without visiting Badwater, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below seal level. And here's a tip, it is A LOT more enjoyable in February than in July when temperatures hover around 120 degrees F during the day. That's Sheryl and me doing our duty as tourists...

On the way home to northern Nevada in good old Big Smoky Valley.

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