O n July 10, 1913, the thermometer in Furnace Creek reached 57 degrees Celsius (134 F). The summertime average consistently hits 45, at which point heat stroke isn’t far off for most folks. When that happens, blood flow to the skin slows, preventing the human body from cooling itself with sweat, internal cells deteriorate, and eventually organ failure occurs as the body essen- tially cooks itself. Without immediate treatment, survival is highly unlikely.
ety as the hottest spot in North America.
Of course, the desert is a place of wicked extremes and even wrapped like a giant burrito inside two sleeping bags each rated for sub-zero temperatures, my badly chapped lips struggled to cover my chattering teeth while I fought for sleep – and warmth. During our late-winter excursion, we never actually saw temps dip below freezing, but it was cold enough in my tent at night to make me doubt the location’s dubious climate claims. My eyes, nose and scalp itched with grit from the relentless dust and sand blown around during the day, but not once did I regret the decision to visit this place.
This is Death Valley, and it’s aptly named.
Situated along the California-Nevada state line, this unlikely National Park makes up the northern part of the Mojave Desert, and it’s gained notori-
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