May 8, 2007

roadtrip part 3

more pictures from the roadtrip we took last week..

we opted not to buy gas in death valley.

by accident, we happened to drive the entire route of the badwater ultramarathon, one of the most intense endurance events in the world.

the 135-mile course traverses three mountain ranges (this pic is looking back on the first range, from the second range), in july, when he temperatures are always at least 120º in the valley.

after starting in badwater, the lowest point in the western hemisphere, the third mountain range is the mighty sierra nevada - the race finally ends in high-elevation pine forests at the trailhead to mt whitney, the highest point in the contiguous US. So as if running 135 miles, starting in death valley, in the middle of summer, isn't bad enough, the course also includes about 13,000 feet of vertical gain, and 4700' of loss. nasty.

we both have had enough of the desert, so the next day we headed up the eastern sierras, making our first stop at the long valley caldera.

32 kilometers long and 17 km wide, it is one of the largest collapsed volcanoes in the world.

the area is geologically very interesting, especially since there is a lot of evidence at the surface of the volcanic activity going on thousands of meters below. these are hot springs - the water emerging from the ground right here is about 120ºF.

There are also faults (pictured here) and fumerols emitting sulfur gas that stinks like rotten eggs.

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