Tuesday October 1, 16.1mi/25.9km
Badwater Basin (0.0/-282ft) to Ridge above Hanaupah Spring (16.1/5046ft) (CA)
I was awake at 6:45am, everyone else in the hostel was still sleeping, so I packed up quietly and slipped out for breakfast. I had a big greasy meal, and returned to the hostel to find my ride waiting for me. Chuck does shuttles from Lone Pine to all the local trailheads, and he agreed to drive me the two hours to Badwater Basin. We left at 8:15am, and arrived at 10.30am. It was a busy and crowded parking lot.
I wandered around the area for a bit, reading all the signs. It’s the lowest place in the western hemisphere!
And usually very hot too, though today was only 88F/31C.
I started walking toward the path across the salt flats, and there were already less people.
The area was named for this little spring, which has salty, or “bad” water. I thought I saw some brine shrimp living in it.
I asked some tourists to get me photo, and then I was off hiking!
The salt flats were very loud and crunchy to walk on.
I had 5mi/8km to get across the playa.
Some spots in the flats had more sand mixed in with the salt, making them look brown.
After two hours, I was across the salt flats. I stopped for a break at what appeared to be someone’s failed garden.
I started up an eroded dirt road towards Hanaupah canyon, and saw a sign warning about compromised water quality. Umm….
(The water turned out to be fine). I spent the rest of the afternoon on a gentle uphill grade, winding my way into a canyon.
Up and up, three thousand feet, and the temperature started to cool a little.
Eventually the old road disappeared, and I was walking in a wash. It felt about the same.
I stopped to refill my water, which was indeed flowing and clean. This was the first of only three natural water sources for the next hundred miles.
Then, I went steeply uphill, leaving the canyon for a ridgeline. It was steep, gaining 1500ft in a mile.
As usual, I had several small slips, and I always caught myself. One of the times I caught myself on a cactus though… ouch.
I stopped taking photos after this, to avoid getting blood all over my phone. After another hour, I was on top of the ridge, and I setup camp in the fading daylight.