Death Valley to Kennedy Meadows.
I had the best night sleep at the campground. Being at lower elevation it was warm overnight and I could use my sleeping bag like a blanket, which meant I had room to move my legs when needed. The next thing I knew it was 5.30am and I had slept like a baby.
The drive to Death Valley was a couple of hours. The visitor centre didn’t open until 8am, so I had plenty of time. Just before the visitors centre was an overlook which I stopped at. Then at the visitors centre I got a ranger who had hiked the PCT in 2011, another high snow year, so I was helpful talking to her about the Sierra. I then got a map of the park and a junior ranger booklet to fill in and I was on my way.
First stop was Badlands, the lowest point in the States at about 85m below sea level. I was pretty excited about that because hopefully in about a week I will have climbed Mt Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous USA. From lowest to highest!
I then stopped off at Natural Arch and the artists palate before heading back to the Visitors Centre. I got the most enthusiastic ranger ever, who was a little too perky about going through my booklet, then had me shout my junior ranger pledge to the whole visitor centre, but the result was another junior ranger badge! 👏🏼 😂
On the way out of the park I also stopped off at Mesquite sand dunes before driving back to Ridgecrest, which felt like it took forever. I dropped my car rental off. Then thankfully Watercolor’s boyfriend was in Ridgecrest and able to give me a lift back to Kennedy Meadows. Where I spent the night eating and playing Sorry. A game I haven’t played since I was a kid. I lost, so I flipped the board in play disgust while declaring I would make a comeback. By then it was late and I went off to set up my tent before falling asleep immediately.
Today I am thankful for a fun few days off trail to do a really fun roadtrip.