Monday, February 29, 2016
The Age of a Mountain versus the Age of (the rocks of) a Mountain: Arriving in Death Valley National Park
We entered Death Valley from the west, driving over the Darwin Plateau at the south end of the Inyo Mountains. Just beyond the summit we stopped briefly at the Father Crowley Vista Point, which overlooks a deep desert valley that isn't Death Valley. It's Panamint Valley, another faulted basin only a bit less deep than Death Valley itself. The setting sun highlighted the rocks exposed across the valley in the Panamint Mountains. Thousands of feet of limestone and sandstone were visible, exposing evidence of more than 100 million years of quiet deposition of mud and sand on the western margin of the North American continent during the Paleozoic Era
The earliest Hominids, had they cared to, could have seen Death Valley before it became an actual valley.
As the shadows lengthened, we crossed Towne Pass at 4,956 feet (1,511 meters), and descended the long grade to our our sea level camp at Stovepipe Wells. We had reached the actual Death Valley. Would there be geology? Would there be flowers? Stay tuned!