A Visit to Mahogany Flat and Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley National Park
It's always a good way to relax after hiking in the Southwest to pay a visit to the mountains, the Panamint Mountains actually. It's really quite something to go from 100 degree dry heat (at sea level) and drive up in sunshine to 8000 feet overlooking the whole thing. The temps are very moderate in Mahogany Flat in Sept, and the nights get quite cool which is great for sleeping.
Badwater is 282 feet below sea level
In addition to being the lowest point in North America, being below sea level means it cannot drain anywhere. That's of course why there are such extensive mineral and salt deposits. So the road sign nearby actually has two meanings here.
Some roads like Artist's Drive have outlets, but are anything but downstream, flat or direct.
Compared to Badwater, Stovepipe Wells up the valley is a high point
...and it's hot, even now in September!
When the Ultra-marathoners run through here, they have plenty of liquids to drink, and there are support vehicles nearby, but sometimes the problem is their running shoes get runny and slippy and melt away on the asphalt.
On our way getting to altitude, we take a detour to Mosaic Canyon, since it's such a gorgeous day.
Even Scorpions get on the billing.
Just one of many different mosaic patterns in the rocks here.
Trickles in the Desert
The Winding and Long Road
The Long and Winding Road
It would be easy to spend the entire day exploring here, and there's such a wide range of textures and lighting. Sort of the walking equivalent of Artist's Drive across the valley.
Now however, we want to get up there and set up camp so we can enjoy a delicious salmon dinner and a campfire, so off we go on the long winding climb into the mountains along Emigrant Pass.
The little white dot on the top of Roger's Peak is a relay tower, explored during a previous hiking detour on the way to Telescope Peak (out of the picture, off to the right sort of).
We're heading for the lower end of the saddle that connects to Roger's, visible toward the left. That's Mahogany Flat with it's 10 campsites. Don't be fooled-Mahogany Flat is officially at 8133 feet (quite a bit higher than where we are now) and Roger's is a good bit higher than that, even though it doesn't look like it.
Actually, you could just get level with the top of Roger's if you put the CN Tower on top of Mahogany. ...180 storeys of climbing just between those two peaks (Roger's elevation is is 9,993). So this means we have many miles of winding and hairpin driving and lots of elevation gain to get over there. But it's worth every second of it.
The trailhead for Telescope Peak starts at Mahogany Flat. Looking at the Trail Register, it's fascinating to see the range of people who make a pilgrimage to this place from all terrestrial compass points!
So the day ends with a baked salmon dinner, and some spectacular scenery, this time in the sky. Tomorrow at this time, we'll be on the road again...