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going to death valley soon
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delun cai
(olivercai) - F
going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 01:08:11 MDT Print View

hi, i am going to hike in death valley in august. but every one who i know is keeping talking about i can't make it, and i will die there. is it ture?? i don`t thing so. if you going there, what gear will you bring?

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 07/22/2008 09:59:49 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 01/17/2015 11:26:20 MST.

delun cai
(olivercai) - F
hi on 07/22/2008 11:52:44 MDT Print View

i am going to do the cottonwood/marble canyon loop hike. it is 26 to mile loop hiking. it take 3 to 5 day to finish it. so, how much water do you thing that i need?

Christopher Chupka

Locale: NTX
H2O on 07/22/2008 12:06:06 MDT Print View

As much water as I drink and to include some extra in case of an emergency I would "carry" at least 2 gallons a day. I would figure at least a liter per hour on the move.

Maybe you have an old external frame Kelty to carry all the weight, I don't think a Gossamer Gear Murmur is gonna cut it.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
???? on 07/22/2008 12:07:37 MDT Print View

I'd advise AGAINST that 26 mile August Death Valley hike. I live in Henderson, Nevada and wouldn't even hike HERE in August.


Christopher Chupka

Locale: NTX
Safety on 07/22/2008 12:16:41 MDT Print View

Eric's reply is probably the best answer.

Figure 2 gallons a day, 5 days worth of water to be safe, approximately 6 pounds per gallon, that would be roughly 60 pounds of water.

Ryan Krause

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 12:18:56 MDT Print View

Look at the climate table for Death Valley at

Where do you normally live? Have you ever experienced 100+ degree weather for sustained periods of time? With those temperatures you would be carrying a huge amount of weight just in water, see above posts, 2 gallons seems a good estimate. Why are you planning on August?

I lived in AZ for many years and August was the month for gym climbing, not backpacking.

Edited by rmkrause on 07/22/2008 12:21:22 MDT.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 07/22/2008 12:39:26 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 01/17/2015 11:27:26 MST.

Adam Behr
(justsomeguy) - MLife
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 12:55:29 MDT Print View

I've never been to Death Valley, but I currently live in the Coachella Valley, where temperatures are often over 110F in the summer and make it over 120F regularly. Death Valley gets even hotter.

Even if you have experienced temperatures over 100, it's still a very different thing from 115-120. It's an awful lot like being punched in the stomach when you walk out of an air conditioned building, and the feeling really doesn't lighten up as you you get used to it, at least in my experience.

Do not underestimate what that'll do to you, energy-wise and hydration needs-wise.

Also, water actually weighs ~8.35 pounds per gallon.

I'm sure people have done what you want to do, but it'd seem to me it involves an awful lot of planning, and most likely some experience in such a climate, as well as lots of preparation involving caching water beforehand and other site specific strategies.

I don't like to make judgements about people I've never met based on a few lines on a message board, but I'd be willing to bet an awful lot of money that if you're here asking if Death Valley in August will kill you, and what you might need, you're not even almost ready to go do this in a month or so.

I could be wrong.

I hope you read this in the kind and helpful manner it was intended.

Good luck.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 12:58:28 MDT Print View

If going alone in August, make sure you have your will in place. I've heard people have left for a dayhike and not been able to make it back to their cars because they became dehydrated within a few hours.

Edited by jshann on 07/22/2008 13:05:22 MDT.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: Re: going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 13:30:25 MDT Print View

Death Valley's lower elevations in August are NO place for the uninitiated. Technically, you'll need a permit to do such a backcountry trek at this time of year, and the rangers will assess your preparedness (or lack thereof) prior to making their determination.

If you don't have a permit - ie, formally announce your plans to the rangers - you'll possibly be endangering the lives of those who mount a SAR operation, as an untended vehicle in August can quickly raise suspicions of the worst.

Seriously, don't do it.

Craig Burton

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Great comments with good intentions on 07/22/2008 14:02:37 MDT Print View

I've actually been to Death Valley, in August no less, and it is certainly one of the most amazing and unique places I have visited; but it is best enjoyed from the road and by ranger-guided tours.

I would also like to discourage you from the 26 mile loop, but that certainly is not to say that you can't accomplish it. In reality the chances of you literally "dying" are slim if you are well-prepared and willing to absolutely buck the thought of lightweight backpacking. If you do decide to go, be prepared for a more figurative death that you will not enjoy, and don't ever lose sight of the fact that a literal death is possible -- it's called Death Valley for a reason. I don't mean to make things sound gruesome, but Death Valley is certainly the ONLY place I've been to where I am gleeful of elevation gains -- you literally feel losses of energy and temperature rises for every 10 yards you descend.

26 miles normally doesn't seem like a big deal, but Death Valley is one of the few places where it actually is a big deal. Death Valley even makes Canyonlands pale in comparison.

If you've already made up your mind, and you're the real adventurous type; then most of us can attest to the fact that it isn't likely you will change your mind. If that is the case, I suggest you read up on the Death Valley 100 races and take note of all of the precautions that are taken for some of the best and fittest endurance runners in America along MAINTAINED ROADS in the area.

Edited by MissingUtah on 07/22/2008 14:04:46 MDT.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
Death Valley Trip on 07/22/2008 14:19:13 MDT Print View

A question to regular posters.

When a newbie makes a post that clearly indicates lack of experience, research, etc., what is the best approach for the forum community to take?

In this instance, I thought ignoring the post was best.

Michael Wands
(walksoftly) - F

Locale: Piney Woods
going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 14:34:11 MDT Print View

I just completed a 2-day, 24 mile trip in Texas when it reached 102. I hike every July & August.

However, I am in the heat all of the time and have become acclimated somewhat. I carry NOTHING. Only a silk liner and some netting for sleeping and some energy bars for food. I go to lakes and rivers where there is a sure source of water and a good chance of a breeze. This last weekend I filtered and drank 2 gallons of water a day and still only pee'd three times!!!

Be very carefull. You have to take nature on her terms and she can be very unforgiving. This hike will still be there for you in November.

Adam Behr
(justsomeguy) - MLife
Re: Death Valley Trip on 07/22/2008 14:37:25 MDT Print View

CASEY BOWDEN WROTE-"A question to regular posters.

When a newbie makes a post that clearly indicates lack of experience, research, etc., what is the best approach for the forum community to take?

In this instance, I thought ignoring the post was best."

Personally, there were two things in this thread that drew me out of lurking (which I did as a paying member for well over a year).

One was having personal experience that plenty of people out there probably don't, in this case spending too much time in temps over 120F.

The other was something incorrect stated as fact that I felt capable of succinctly correcting (e.g. weight of water).

There are probably a lot more people out there reading than will ever post, possibly even years into the future. Whether or not posting helps the OP (and I hope it does) there are plenty of others that could, at least potentially, benefit.

I can sure understand the impulse to ignore, and maybe it is for the best.

I'm curious as to others' thoughts on the matter.

Good question.


Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Death Valley Trip on 07/22/2008 14:39:59 MDT Print View

The guy seems incapable of using a shift key. Wonder what his planning and preparation skills are like...

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 07/22/2008 14:54:48 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 01/17/2015 11:28:00 MST.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Death Valley - good intentions on 07/22/2008 15:00:11 MDT Print View

When I visited the Furnace Creek NPS contact station in June a couple of years ago, ranger Charlie Callaghan looked worried. "We just pulled a body off the salt playa of Badwater Basin a few weeks ago," he informed me. "He died doing what you're planning to do, more or less."

I was there to pick up my permit before attempting the Lowest-to-Highest Trail, a backcountry hiking route from Badwater to Mt Whitney. It was the first portion of the route - in his jurisdiction, as it were - that had Charlie most concerned - the long, hot, arduous cross-country trek across Badwater Basin and up to Telescope Peak. My strategy was to night hike that stretch over a 48 hr period in an attempt to avoid the merciless broiling pan that Death Valley by day becomes at that time of year. Despite possessing a desert hiking resume that should have staved off most of my doubts, I still had some, and ranger Charlie a good deal more for me yet.

"He had been attempting to hike from Badwater to Telescope and back in a day. Made it to the top, then died within sight of his vehicle on the return." That's not so surprising, the ranger went on to explain. In that kind of heat, (120F+) the margin of safety is extremely thin. One minute the heat may appear manageable, the next you're lightheaded, weak, and can't go on. And incapacitation away from help quickly brings heat stroke, then death.

I never did make it beyond the briny pool of Badwater later that night. My rental car's outside temperature gauge was still reading 114 degrees at 10pm, and the desert wind was like a blowtorch, exacerbating rather than relieving the dessicating heat. Instead I opted to drive up to the cool heights of Wildrose campground for the night, then climbed 11,000 foot Telescope Peak as an out-and-back day hike. I had a fair amount of company on the hike, too, and none of us appeared to be suffering too much, but rather enjoying what amounted to a great hike at the perfect time of year.

The "L2H" remains to be completed, a goal awaiting some free time in autumn one of these years. Summertime heroics in the low country of Death Valley, it turns out, is primarily for fools.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: death valley. on 07/22/2008 15:16:01 MDT Print View

Dave: at least you can spell. :-)

When I'm walking in Spain in the summer, I get up real early and stay in the shade as much as possible. Then I rest up under an overhang and walk again in the late afternoon until dark. I dislike carrying lots of water so I ask around for local knowledge on spring locations before I set off.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 07/22/2008 16:27:50 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 01/17/2015 11:28:34 MST.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 17:24:08 MDT Print View

A 26 mile hike in Death Valley stretched out over a period of 5 days! Good lord! Do you enjoy hurting yourself or do you just have a death wish?

delun cai
(olivercai) - F
thank you for all reply on 07/22/2008 18:59:41 MDT Print View

thank you for all reply, those informaion is very helpful, and make me more understanding what situation that i am runnign into. i know hike in death valley at august that is a very dangerous idea. but i don`t want to qive up without try. i am going to carry 6 gallon water. my navigaion system is suunto x9i watch. wear fastdry and uv protection clothing, hat, and pants.

delun cai
(olivercai) - F
~ on 07/22/2008 19:00:48 MDT Print View

i am chinses. and i live in los angeles. 22 yesrs old~

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: ~ on 07/22/2008 19:28:05 MDT Print View


I recommend that you change your plans. I would not embark on a 26 mile trip into such conditions without having experience in similar situations for shorter time periods/distances first.

I could give you some more advice about how I would attempt to do this hike, but I think it is foolhardy if you do not already have extensive experience in these conditions.

Would you try multi-day hiking/camping in -50 degree temps without extensive experience first? Extreme heat can be just as dangerous as extreme cold... possibly more so, because we tend to think we can handle the heat just by sweating.

delun cai
(olivercai) - F
~ on 07/22/2008 22:23:15 MDT Print View

my plan is , i will take the one day hike there at the frist day.than, if i feel can't make it. i will give up the 3~5days hike. if i feel good after the one day hike. i think i will do the long hike

Edited by olivercai on 07/22/2008 23:50:33 MDT.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: ~ on 07/23/2008 09:15:03 MDT Print View

Well, at least you'll have the place all to yourself.

OK, I don't know if this has been asked already but I'm going to throw it out there- Why? What is the attraction behind such an extreme plan? Maybe a lot of these posts wouldn't be so negative if we had more insight into your motivation. Then again, maybe not.

Barry Foster
(bazzer) - F

Locale: Redding
You will die.... on 07/23/2008 10:20:55 MDT Print View

You will die, ever read "Into the Wild"?

Ryan Krause

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/23/2008 11:11:55 MDT Print View

Considering the lack of provided details, most of us here are assuming you have done little planning and are being very foolish and highly irresponsible in potentially putting a SAR team into a dangerous rescue (or recovery) mission if/when things go wrong.

The idea of if you don't feel good on day 1 you'll scrap the rest of it - this same "plan" has happened in many tragedies in which the person/team got to this same decision point and decided to push on since they didn't want to give up regardless of the odds since they took all this time to get there, get the permits, etc.

You asked for an opinion, and we've given you one based upon the info you've given.

Edited by rmkrause on 07/23/2008 11:15:53 MDT.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 07/23/2008 11:13:31 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 01/17/2015 11:29:08 MST.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: death valley. on 07/23/2008 13:13:13 MDT Print View

If your plan is, I will hike for one day and see how it goes from there, then you DO NOT have a plan. I typically ignore posts like this that show no prior thought before asking for help. If you want to be taken seriously then we need to see a REAL plan with some forethought. We need a sense of your experience level, and a list of the gear you plan to use, and the food and water you plan on taking, and a detailed itinerary. We can then talk about the merits of your plan. Your "plan" wouldn't even allow you to let someone know when to expect you! You may be up to this trip but with the information you have given I have to assume that you are not. Have you ever felt 120° F heat or even hiked all day in temps over 100° F? Ashley's advice it very good. LA is not that far from Death Valley. Work up to this in stages, otherwise you are looking like a potential Darwin Award recipient. I know my post is a touch harsh but I think it needs to be. I don't want you to feel unwelcome on this site because I do welcome you here, and feel you will learn much here.

Jim Ford
(jimford) - F - MLife

Locale: DFW
Re: death valley: hydration vs thermal regulation on 07/23/2008 18:13:23 MDT Print View

Keep in mind that there is a difference between staying hydrated, and keeping your core body temperature manageable (cool).

While water is essential to keep your body hydrated and functioning properly, that 6 gallons ain't gonna help as much as you'd like in keeping your core body temperature at a 'safe' level in such a hot environment if you are exerting yourself.

Consider this: if the air temperature is 120 degrees, how long do you think it is going to take before that water is 120 degrees? And that's assuming you don't do something silly like leave it in the sun in a dark colored pack/container, absorbing heat all day long. If that happens, then when you really need that water, you'll be hot, tired, sweaty, and thirsty - and that 6+ gallons of water you humped around all day is now TOO HOT TO DRINK.

Now, if that water were kept ice-cold (anyone have an ultralight 6 gallon backpacking thermos?), then sure, that water would do wonders at lowering your core body temperature. But if your core body temperature is getting high, drinking hot water is NOT going to bring it back down.

It sounds as if your 'plan' is to hike farther and faster so as to not need to carry as much water. But this will result in you overexerting yourself, raising your core body temperature, and putting you in much more danger from heatstroke. You need to stay hydrated, AND keep your core body temperature manageable.

Christopher Holden
(back2basics) - F - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: going to death soon on 07/23/2008 21:30:03 MDT Print View

If you won't listen to sage advice, please take along a camcorder to document your short and possibly unsuccessful journey. This will give others who are reckless the chance to learn from the mistakes of others who passed before them.

Mark W Heninger
(heninger) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
going to death valley soon on 07/23/2008 22:51:41 MDT Print View

I've actually done this loop in 3 days in May. It was hot as hell then.

The first part of the loop is pretty easy - and there was water at several spots up the canyon. However, once you get out of Cottonwood canyon, its all trail-less and quite difficult to navigate. At the time I didn't have a handheld GPS and I had a day of very difficult navigation (read: I got lost) to find my way out. It was pretty much the toughest experience I've had in the wilderness. A GPS and a really good topo along with very good route-finding skills are necessary for this hike.

From the looks of things, you better stay home...

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/23/2008 23:17:14 MDT Print View

"From the looks of things, you better stay home..."

Or just do a friendlier hike. For crissakes the Sierras are only a stones throw away. Scaling Mt Whitney (to use an extreme example) would probably be safer to attempt in August than spending 3-5 days in Death Valley.

Stephen Morse
(scmorse1) - MLife

Locale: Bay area
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/23/2008 23:44:52 MDT Print View

This reminds me of the two climbers who died on Mt Hood in December 2006. Too much uneccessary risk.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: hmmmm. on 07/24/2008 00:53:06 MDT Print View

I hope Delun appreciates people's genuine concern for his safety -- and not attempt a trip for which he has little to no experience -- judging from his questions and his so-called "plan".

A much more viable alternative is to go with another person who has appropriate desert hiking experience -- or sign up for a guided group hike.

Edited by ben2world on 07/24/2008 01:01:20 MDT.

Karl Keating
(KarlKeating) - MLife
Go Ahead! on 07/24/2008 21:00:19 MDT Print View


Go ahead and do this Death Valley hike. But I suggest one small change to your plans.

Go in January.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/24/2008 23:52:04 MDT Print View

Biting tongue... hard!

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/25/2008 00:25:10 MDT Print View

Hey, just speak your mind. We did.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: ~ on 07/28/2008 15:30:39 MDT Print View

Water alone doesn't cut it.

So let's not forget electrolytes, sunscreen, and proper clothing. But the best recommendation I have is don't do it in that time of year. I've lived and hiked in the desert for 30 years and watched people go from lucid and in control to seriously impaired in a half hour or less, even with doing all the right things. One has to be very in touch with how their body responds to things like heat, cold, altitude, dehydration, etc. and even then experienced people get fooled, distracted, overwhelmed, etc.

There's a reason why they call it Death Valley. Old timers far hardier than most of us moderns learned the hard way.