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The Racetrack to Bishop

Death Valley Trip 2013 | Day 5
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Up before dawn again…I’m not really sure when I became a morning person? When I got in my Jeep after taking down camp, the LCD screen in my dashboard told me it was 23 degrees out, the coldest morning of the trip so far. It really didn’t feel that cold when I got out of my sleeping bag? I drove a few miles down the road and then hiked across the playa to photograph the moving rocks again. I had the place to myself, it was very peaceful.

The beautiful pre-dawn glow strikes again. This has to be my favorite time of the day to shoot.


Soon the sunlight strikes the tops of the surrounding mountains.

Racetrack Sunrise

I am drawn again to these two rocks who’s paths have crossed.


Right behind me is the edge of the playa where the moving rock’s journey seem to begin.

The Race is On

When the sun was high enough, I hiked back to my Jeep and started the drive back out. The road to The Racetrack was very wash-boarded, but if you drive fast enough you can fly right over the bumps for a smoother ride. Though, I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are sure your vehicle and tires can handle it…

I stopped for a photo at Teakettle Junction.

Teakettle Junction

When I reached the paved road again, I made a quick stop at the impressive Ubehebe Crater and hiked partway around it.

Ubehebe Crater Rim

After my hike around the crater I was back in my Jeep and driving the paved roads through the park again. I passed through Grapevine, Stovepipe Wells, Emigrant and then Panamint Springs. Shorty after flying through Panamint Springs I saw a sign along the road pointing the way to Darwin Falls. I had not planned on stopping here, but I had a little extra time and thought it might be a nice quick hike. I found a place to turn around (since I missed the turnoff) and followed the dirt road to the trailhead. I wasn’t quite sure how long the hike was, but I hoped it was a shorter one since I only grabbed my camera when I left my Jeep.

Lucky for me, it wasn’t a long hike and the waterfall was nicer than I was expecting it to be. I wish I had brought my tripod along! I did my best hand-holding the camera. I will have to return for a better photo on a future trip.

Darwin Falls

I was soon back in my Jeep and leaving Death Valley behind. My next stop would be Bishop, California. I grabbed some dinner along the way and then found a campsite just outside of Bishop along the Owens River in a large BLM campground (the first and only time I would pay to camp on this trip…it was only $2).

Next I found myself searching the Volcanic Tablelands for the large petroglyph panel I had driven here to see. I found it easily and took a few photos while waiting for sunset to arrive.

Sky Rock Petroglyphs

Another interesting panel that I found nearby.

Circles Panel

The White Mountains in the distance over large volcanic boulders scattered across the top of the mesa.

Volcanic Tablelands

The sun sinks below Mount Tom and the rest of the Sierra Nevada.

Sunset on Sky Rock

I stick around for the magenta glow at twilight and take one more photo of these amazing petroglyphs.

Face the Sky

I hike back to my Jeep in the dark and arrive back at camp ready to get some sleep. It was another good day!

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