After spending the night at chateau BLM we headed towards Death Valley National Park through Titus Canyon. The Titus Canyon route is a 27 mile dirt road which passes through the rugged mountains that frame the eastern edge of Death Valley National Park. The road was originally built, like so many other roads in the west, to access a mining town. Today anyone with high clearance vehicle can take the one way route through the veins of the mountain to Death Valley.
From Death Valley we continued west to the Eastern Sierra. The best thing about owning a truck with a camper shell is that you can set up camp anywhere, we took advantage of this by parking outside of some natural hot springs near Mammoth. Because it was a holiday weekend the hot springs were especially packed. We decided to take a nap in the truck and wait till after dark to jump in, hoping it would be less crowded.
Later, as the last of the sunlight faded, we headed out to the hot spring. We were able to find a spot in the tub, right next to seven other humans packed like sardines. The conversation was good and the water hot; still though we craved some quite alone time and set our alarms for a pre dawn soak. What we did not realize is there is a valve that lets in the hot water and it had been shut off over night, leaving the pool to cool in below freezing temps. Not knowing this we striped down and jumped in, and spent the next 15 minutes huddled by the valve trying to get warm! Luckily the pool heated up quickly and we were able to watch the sunrise in comfort.
The next day we headed to Mono Lake. Mono Lake sits at the base of the eastern sierra. One of the most unique features of the lake are the tufas. The tufas are large towers of limestone which rise up out of the lake. They were formed when spring water with high calcium content seeped up into the lake, which is rich in carbonates. The result is the formation of calcium carbonate- limestone.
We spent some time exploring the lake and after a pit stop to the June Lake Brewery started back down the 395 toward home.
I feel very luckily to live close to so many amazing places. In the span of one long weekend we went from desert to mountains, visited historic site and natural wonders, we saw new species and learned a lot about the history of the west. I can’t think of a better way to spend a long weekend.