Teaser Vicarious 2022 Fall Issue

much of the team. Having a posh respite on a back-country adventure seems a bit like cheat- ing, but spec’d with night vision, off-road skid plates, all-terrain Goodyears and the optional 5.7L V8, this three-row SUV proved to be surprisingly well-suited to the desert. Plus, with gas prices in the Valley topping $2.37 per litre at the time, the Wrangler 392’s thirsty engine would’ve been even costlier to feed. Death Valley spans more than 3.4 million acres, 93% of which is designated as protected wilder- ness. Near the centre is the trading post of Stovepipe Wells that serves an opportunity to stock up on fuel, water and provisions, and impor- tantly for our team, a chance for a quick shower before heading back into wilderness. Stovepipe Wells attracts tourists passing through the park, enabling comfortable accommodations and meals before taking tours of the nearby Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, or other day trips and hikes around the area. Our group sought more isolated areas that Death Valley has to offer, like Racetrack Playa, a dried- up lake, resembling the sort of place you’d want to sprint open-wheeled machines around its central, rocky outcrop (appropriately named the Grandstand). Despite some tire track evidence to the contrary, today motorized vehicles aren’t permitted on the Playa, allowing those on foot to enjoy its unique attraction. It’s also the loca- tion of a bizarre scenario where rocks the size of rugby balls move across the smooth, dried 19

Having grown up in Southern Ontario, the desert has always fascinated me, with its flora and fauna completely differ- ent from the comparatively lush region at home. I never grow tired of the desert’s rugged, geological beauty, as if Mother Nature has scrubbed away all her make-up, exposing her real, spectacular self.

With my brother and a small group of friends, we set off for a week-long back-country camp- ing trip to collect some of that beauty for a few video projects we had on the go. Death Valley and its surroundings promised incredible diversity in both visuals and experiences, and it delivered beyond expectation. The Jeep Wrangler 392 I was supposed to be driv- ing came back in need of repairs from its previ- ous adventure so the folks at Jeep found me a last minute Grand Cherokee L to tackle the rough desert terrain instead. It was quickly dubbed the White Rhino and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by the switch given my plans to kick up immense clouds of dust from the Wrangler’s 35-inch tires and send that big V8’s ferocious bellow reverberating off the canyon walls. But the fancier Jeep quickly grew on me for its cooled, massaging seats, killer McIntosh sound system, and mostly for its enormous cargo space, filled with camera gear and personal luggage for

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