Vaction 8/99: Death Valley, Mt.Whitney, Las Vegas

Vacation photos

Ok... if you REALLY need a break from work, or if you're REALLY bored, take a look at some of these photos from my last vacation.

From 7/30 to 8/8/99, I and some of my usual hiking companions took a trip to the lowest, highest, and tackiest points in the 48 states... those would be Death Valley, Mt. Whitney, and Las Vegas respectively! George had been trying for a permit to hike the Mt. Whitney trail for literally years, so when he finally got one we jumped on the chance. These are some photos from the trip. Some have captions, the others are just miscellaneous photos...

Note: The photos on this page are small versions... if you want to see a larger version, click on the photo. And if you want to see the full size version, click on the small "X" beside each photo. The full size photos are several hundred kilobytes in size, the way they come on the Kodak Photo CDs... but you can see an impressive amount of detail on the full-size copy.

On the top of Mt. Whitney (14,496')
John Cruse, George and Nancy Kierspe,
Cathy and John Wolf, and me

Death Valley

After flying into Las Vegas, we drove west through Death Valley, staying one night at the Furnace Creek Ranch... 120 degrees in the shade (we went to Death Vally in August why?). While checking in (with apparently every citizen of France and Germany) we were severely admonished NOT to touch the air conditioner thermostat upon pain of death. They're apparently preset so as not to overload the generators.

At Badwater, we reached the lowest point in the US, 282' below sea level, obviously the best way to prepare yourself for a high altitude hike...

At the lowest point in the US... you can see the sign marking sea level midway up the cliff

Badwater "lake"... a small body of very salty water that still manages to support some plant life.

Ravens at the hotel. Not sure why anything adapted to live in 120 degree temps would be black in color

The Devil's Golf Course... they seem to spend a lot of time naming stuff the "Devil's" this and that out here in Death Valley...

various minerals make the colors. The sign explains all about it...

An old steam engine for hauling borax

One of our cabins... DON'T TOUCH that thermostat

Sand dunes in Death Valley

At the ranger station in Lone Pine looking up to the mountain range. They set up the tubes to identify some of the peaks... the one in the photo is Mt. Whitney

From base camp to Trail Camp

Scenes from the hike between base camp to the Trail Camp at 12,000'. The base camp had two outstanding features... a supply store that featured the largest pancakes in Known Space (I managed to eat 1/2 of one before our hike), and at least several bear breakins a week. They keep breaking into cars in search of food. We saw one Ford Explorer with it's window smashed by a bear.

The trail head... more signs warning about bears

Looking back toward Lone Pine. The tube in the above photo's down there.

This one looks pretty cool in the "X" size photo

Getting pretty close to the tree line, above which trees can't grow, and the trees this close are sort of stunted

Lone Pine lake

One of the small lakes at Trail Camp. John Cruse is using the filter so we have cooking/drinking water

Scenes from the Top

The top of Mt. Whitney, about 14.5K feet high

The building is a storm shelter. You can see all the lightning rods in the "X" photo

This is typical of the trail above the tree line... you can see it winding through the middle of the photo.

The view off the west side of the ridge, after you cross the Trail Crest

don't know what these were, but they were just about the only plants able to grow at that altitude
one of my favorite shots... the trail wound through some very cool terrain
umm... you don't want to stray too far from the path...

At Trail Crest

The trail crisscrosses like that to form "switchbacks" to make the path negotiable

The Trail Camp is down there just to the right of the greenish body of water. These are fed partly by the melting of the ice, an example at left in the photo

After losing dozens of hikers at this point, they finally put up some railing... (kidding... I think...)

Airlift Rescue

On our way down from the summit we ran across a person who had a bad case of altitude sickness. It's not uncommon for some people to get headaches and nausea at higher altitudes, but sometimes it can turn severe. This woman was so bad that they had to airlift her out. Some people already there had fashioned a litter from walking sticks and jackets, and we took turns helping carry her down to where the helicopter could land. We were all pretty impressed at where the pilot was able to set down... in the larger photos you can see the tiny dirt patch amidst all the rock.

Hoover Dam

Hey, you can't go to Las Vegas and skip Hoover Dam!... at least not if you're a geeky engineer! Perhaps most impressive is that the generators (in the right hand photo) have been operating for about 60 years without being replaced... whoever heard of a government project that's both reliable and turns a profit each year...