It is going to be an outstanding year for desert wildflowers. All the reports say it will rival or exceed the last El Nino year, 1998. We have learned to watch the rainfall that Southern California and Arizona receives starting in October. This rainfall will help the flower germinate the following spring. It needs to had a continue supply through February along with moderate temperatures.
We usually go to Tucson to see the flowers but newsreports started mentioning Death Valley. DV averages about 2 inches of rain a year but already it has received 5 inches since July 2004. The rangers are forecasting a good bloom.
We have never been to Death Valley but what a perfect complement to climbing Mt. Whitney. We can now visit the lowest point in the continugous US after having climbed to the highest point.
We've booked a flight into Las Vegas and reserved a car. The drive is about 2-3 hours and is actually the closest airport. Ontario is pretty close also but we really didn't want to do that drive again.
Unfortunately, most of the accomodations at Furnace Creek are booked. Oh well, we'll go camping. We've flown and camped before. We just use our ice chest as a suitcase and put all the gear in the ice chest. Of course, we can't fly with camp stove fuel but our small backpacking stove has a detachable fuel canister so we'll just swing by the REI before leaving Vegas. Actually, there is also a Whole Foods so we can also grab some gourmet grub before leaving.
I am actually looking forward (somewhat) to camping. I love it at night when you can see the stars. I can't say that I'm looking forward to sleeping on the hard ground.
Of course, we hope to do a hike or two. We're only going to have three nights so a bit of sightseeing and short hikes. We mulled over renting an SUV but we really don't think we'll use it in the short period. So we'll have to stick to the paved and good gravel roads.
But we couldn't resist the lure of Tucson. Initially, it sounded like the rains had mostly missed Tucson but the Sonora Desert Museum is also predicting a stunning show. So we booked also a quick trip to Tucson the weekend after Death Valley. An early flight out to Phoenix, two nights and then return at midnight. That will give G one day to work on his plants for the spring sales.