Posted by: martinworster | December 30, 2014

Xiamen, China

Chinese travels continue… Xiamen in Fujian province, street markets, tea drinking, Gulangyu Island…


China - Xiamen Scenes (1)

After two nights in Ghangzhou and walking what felt like hundreds of miles after two intense days traipsing around the fair I was ready to leave. Next stop Xiamen in Fujian province. At this point I’d like to say thank you to my hosts Edward and Makiyo who showed me around, translated, put me up, entertained and basically made the best trip possible happen. I am so grateful for their help – and sometimes in China you really need it.

China was one of those places where I had no idea what to expect – on any level – before visiting. It’s such a vast place, the most populated country on the planet, a place which, as it exerts such a large impression on the imagination, means there’s quite a big gap between the fiction of what you think it will be like and the reality of how it actually is. My impressions are also of course highly superficial after a relatively fleeting – 9 day trip – to a small part of this massive country.

China - Xiamen Scenes

Driving across Ghangzhou to the train station (more on this later) and then from the train station in Xiamen to where I stayed I had that feeling of being daunted again. Everything’s so big – just endless miles and miles of large tower block housing, much of it looking quite grim and unappealing. Basically workers digs. Small rooms for factory workers who work long hours for little pay. In the cities there isn’t much much greenery. Just lots of concrete and lots of people. An Orwellian dystopia, humans as drones. Life looked hard. Its the scale of it – 1.3 billion people who all need to work, eat and live. On an already dangerously overcrowded planet, I just find the numbers a bit overwhelming. However, from my brief travels there I never saw a desperation to the people, quite the opposite – very proud and friendly people, taxi drivers and waiters would often refuse or hand back tips, perhaps due to the Chinese honor code they find it demeaning to accept money thrown around by Westerners. Again I am sure there are other parts of this huge, diverse country where this isn’t the case and hunger and poverty will be the norm.

China - Xiamen Scenes (2)

The train stations are simply immense. As with the Canton trade fair, the scale is mind bending – the terminus at Ghangzhou was bigger than Heathrow Terminal 5. The trains literally miles long. The timetables hyper efficient – the trains leave on the dot and you have to book your tickets days in advance and if you missed the train you were screwed. A massive mass transit system to cope with volume. In fact when it’s Chinese New Year and all the workers can leave their factories to visit their families, I believe it’s the largest human migration on the planet, all carried by the train system. As a world leader, China has invested massively in it’s infrastructure (America take note) and the roads, trains and subways are amazing. The trains were clean and fast – very impressive. This is where the help of our translator helped – once you get out into the cities no one speaks English. Not a word. I felt that if I got lost it would be a real test to find your way home again.

I’d never heard of Xiamen (3.5 million people, small for China) before but it’s well known in China and as it’s on the Strait of Taiwan, one of strategic and historical importance. I was staying right on the lake in the nicest part of town. This was my time to explore. We visited the fish market one morning which was a real eye opener and a great place for local colour, smells and people watching. In China if it moves it gets eaten – so there were snakes, toads, turtles, sharks, alligators, endless species of fish – all on sale ready to be cooked. As I a vegetarian I perhaps surprisingly didn’t find it that gross or shocking – in my world view, it’s shocking that a human would want to eat anything that lived, whether pig, snake, cow or shark.

Xiamen Street Market -  More Sea food

It seems common for areas of the city to specialize in a certain area of trade. Hence there was an area – a few blocks – of painters and artists knocking up copies of classics like the Mona Lisa or Canaletto-esque Venetian city scapes. I think this congregation of similar skills is fairly common in China and there are even towns or cities that specialize in one thing, for instance one town will make all the Christmas decorations that will be exported and sold to the rest of the world. Another town (or city) will specialize in washing machines or TVs and so on and so. It’s really quite bizarre.

In Xiamen one of my favorite discoveries was the tea area. Again, a couple of blocks of everything related to tea – tea pickers, sorters, dealers, shops selling kettles, cups, machines. Outside older women sat on stools picking and sorting the leaves from the twigs and stems of the bushels recently transplanted from the plantations that surround Xiamen . In China everyone drinks tea – taxi drivers have their own flasks with their favorite brew. In fact it’s believed the quantities of tea drunk goes some way in explaining low obesity in China despite the fat rich diet. The hot tea flushes out all the fat and toxins. It’s served before meals and business meetings. In some situations there’s quite a strict ritual of how it’s brewed – the tea ceremony which I experienced a number of times. How much tea is used, temperature of the water, washing of the tea cups with the first strain of tea, smelling the leaves, smelling the brew – it’s an art form, a tea culture that goes back millennia.

Tea Picker, Xiamen, China -

Nanputuo Temple

Nanputo Temple, Xiamen, China - Buddhist Prayer

This was another highlight in Xiamen for me. After a tasty lunch in a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant we walked up the hill to the Nanputuo Temple which is near the beautiful university. As it’s set on a hill you walk up and there are various Buddhist shrines and lots of monks. As with the Buddhist temples I’ve visited I love how the atmosphere is different to a traditional church – minus the sacred hush and holy reverence. The Buddhists seem more welcoming, open and accepting in their beliefs. This part of China is mainly Buddhist and for me it was another plus – the people seem kind and passive. I felt very safe at all times. I think most crime is low in China as the laws are very strict and well enforced. No deviation from the norm, a mass conformism to ensure the safe functioning of a society with so many people. Plus a hangover from the Communist days when strict conformism was much more the norm. As China has opened up to capitalism and westernized society is going through a massive change. An ever expanding middle class, consumerism and a vastly and disproportionally wealthy one percent much like Western cultures.

Gulangyu Island‬

Gulangyu Island, Xiamen, China - Marriage Proposal

This was another fascinating day trip. Just a 20 minute ferry ride off the coast of Xiamen, Gulangyu Island is car free and is stuffed full of colonial history and architecture. After China’s loss after the First Opium War and the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, many foreign governments – British, French, Japanese etc – set up their administrative head quarters there. The architecture was stunning – large Victorian houses, French villas, art nouveau styles and palatial homes abound in the winding lanes where cars are banned. It really gave me a sense of history – a lot of older buildings frequently get knocked down in China to make way for new developments and it was reassuring to see this part had been protected.

Gulangyu Island is a famous tourist destination for the Chinese – particularly young about to be married couples who flock there to get their portraits taken with the classy architectural backdrop. Every street you turn down there are couples every where only adding to the romance of the place.

Gulangyu Island, Xiamen, China - Colonial Building

Posted by: martinworster | December 11, 2014

Canton Fair (Ghangzhou, China)

Dude, where’s my virus mask?

The Canton Fair was my main reason for visiting China. The Canton Fair is the biggest exhibition / fair in the world and the place was daunting, especially as it was right at the beginning of my trip and coincided with jet lag. I flew into Hong Kong, spent one night there then up at 5am the next morning to cross the border and then take the train into Guangdong province and the city of Ghangzhou (romanized as Canton). First impressions of Ghangzhou were it’s pollution – you couldn’t see the sky, just a heavy, smoggy, repetitively low amber-grey cloud. Sometimes the sun would haze through the smog but it was always grim, cloudy and a tad depressing. It didn’t help that my hotel didn’t have any windows looking out so I felt like a worker in his digs working on the Qatari World Cup.

China Canton Fair (1)

At the fair, manufacturers of everything from all over China – and obviously there’s a lot of them – try and wholesale their products to buyers from all over the globe. Each week – or ‘Phase’ – focuses on a different market sector. Phase 1 is electronics and household electrical goods, machinery, lighting equipment, chemical products etc and Phase 2 was consumer goods, gifts and home decorations (our sector). Phase 3 is textiles, food, health, shoes etc. It’s hard to convey the immense scale of the place – I can’t think of any comparatively sized buildings I’ve been in before to give scale. Think Heathrow Terminal 5 but 4 times bigger. And then lots of them all joined up next to each other with multiple floors. Then there was the amount of people – from every corner of the globe, Europeans, Russians (a lot), African’s and Middle Easterners, American’s and well – just every corner of the planet represented. The trip coincided with the ebola panic so many people were wearing masks and your temperature was taken as you entered the building, obviously a pointless exercise as you could still be carrying and incubating the disease without displaying any symptoms. The joke on the trip was what I would do if I was sat next to a sweating and sneezing African gent on the flight home.

China Canton Fair (2)

Golf carts would transfer you from one end of the building to another. The array of goods was fascinating. One hall kitchen ware, another outside furniture, marble statues, architectural items, bronzes, porcelain, tableware, dining furniture – and from high to low end. Some really funky pieces – trendier stuff you’d see in Restoration Hardware. In fact I recognized the many pieces from one factory as Restoration Hardware although they could have been copies, as you soon learn in China everything is copied. I did even see a 3D copying stand – and thought of buying a 3D copier and printing more 3D copiers to sell.

China Canton Fair

It was quite daunting on many levels. Mainly the scale of it and the people. But also the scale of manufacturing. Each stand would have it’s own factory – so if you took a fancy to certain lines on a stand that factory would then make your order after receiving a deposit. Many of the exhibitors had Minimum Quantity Orders – if you liked a desk, you’d probably have to order 40 of them and fill a 40 foot container with other pieces in similar bulk. When you talked to the Chinese people on the stands they’d proudly tell you that they were suppliers to Tesco, Next, Sainsburys, etc so I kind of felt like a small fish buying for a small family business. It just put into context China’s global position as the maker of everything. The machinations of capitalism – the process chain from manufacture to end consumer product in household. That’s what makes Guandong province such a polluted corridor as most things made in China exit from the ports of Ghangzhou and Hong Kong in containers to be shipped the rest of the world. The smelly end of capitalism. China’s cheap labour facilitating the manufacture of cheap goods to feed the rest of the world’s nihilistic and mindless consumerism. Belching factories, exploited labour and polluted skies a 21st century version of Blake’s ‘dark satanic mills’ line which critiqued the Industrial Revolution in England in the 1800s. A rape of resources and labour. Still, I think I found some nice new lines at the fair that will hopefully go down a treat with our global customer base.

China Canton Fair (3)

We used the metro a few times in Ghangzhou and that was very impressive – clean, hyper efficient and dirt cheap. Although you have to contend with the vast swathes of humanity that use it and of course the different cultural values when it comes to personal space – people will push and jump in front of you, not to mention cough, sneeze and loudly clear their nasal passages. I guess with 1.3 billion people you might have to put up with a bit of hustle and bustle….

China - Shenzen Train Station (1)

China - Shenzen Train Station

Posted by: martinworster | November 8, 2014


Posted by: martinworster | July 14, 2014

Hiking Mount Whitney

Driving up to our campsite at Whitney Portal from the high desert town of Lone Pine I felt intimated by my first glimpse of the mountains. Who’s idea was this? Six months earlier I’d entered a lottery to win a permit to hike Mount Whitney which at 14,505 feet (4,421 m) is the highest mountain in the contiguous United States (ie not including Alaska). The lottery system was devised to limit the number of hikers on this popular route. I hit the jackpot but the snag was it was a one day permit – most people prefer to do it over 2 or 3 days to split up the arduous route and to get used to the altitude. The 23 miles return from the trail head at Whitney Portal and an elevation gain of 6100 feet makes it quite a tough one day hike. Oh well, let’s hope my arthritic right knee holds up. To give some sense of scale the highest mountain in England is Scafell Pike at 3209 feet  – so Whitney’s 4.5 times bigger.

Lone Pine Brook

Lone Pine Brook – babbling brook at Whitney Portal campsite

We drove futher up the valley to the campsite and I was immediately struck by the sheer, vertical granite faces either side of the valley. Looking up skywards you could see jagged peaks and needles, a more dramatic mountain scenery normally associated with the Alps. We were definitely in high mountain territory. Lower down in the high desert the temperatures has been pushing 100 so I was concerned but as we ascended they dipped to the low 80s. Our campsite was exquisite, set amongst tall sequoias with Lone Pine Creek babbling in the background, an idylic pastoral setting you wouldn’t expect being so close to the desert.

We went to bed early the Sunday night as we were to start the hike at 2.30 am the next morning. An early start’s required when doing it in a day. Ideally you summit around midday as later on in the afternoon it’s common for thunderstorms to hit in July – and you don’t want to be exposed on a ridge or peak when lightning strikes.

The alarm went off at 2.15 and we were on the tail at 3am in the dark using headtorches to navigate. My backpack had 3 litres of water in a camel pack, a litre of Gatorade, two cheese sandwiches and enought sweets, energy gels, trail mixes, nuts and chocolate to open a sweet shop. I also carried a knife (bears, mountain lions, meth heads?), first aid kit, knee brace, map, compass, whistle, water proof top and fleece, beanie, small camera and hiking poles. It weighed quite a bit – approx 45 Ilbs. Starting in the dark we soldiered on – you could sense the immense beauty around us but only the small beam of our lamps made the rocks and immediate path visible. We encountered lots of switchbacks, crossed the river a few times, then after an hour or so the trail levelled out to what must be a meadow formed from alluvial muds brought down via the river over millenia. It was still dark. My knee was holding up (slight twinge, that’s normal) and I already had small blister in my palm from the hiking pole – time for gloves.

Sunrise over the high desert- Whitney Hike

Sunrise over the high desert- Whitney Hike

After two hours or so it started to get lighter – just as we encountered Lone Pine lake, still in quite a green section of the trail. After perhaps two hours we came to Outpost Camp and Mirror Lake (technically a tarn) – the white granite faces of the mountains glistened in the early morning light and reflected in the lake. Looking around the scale of the place became apparent, vase scree slopes, dotted with snow, remnants of the mild winter remained in patches, nothing now growing amongst the rocks and stone. It was like Game of Thrones meets the Hobbit. If the Romantic poets were that inspired by roaming around the Lake District to come up with such beautiful poetry, I can only wonder (or wander, ‘lonely as a cloud’) what they would have made of these environs. Simply sublime. We stopped to rest at the lake and kept guard from the marmots (large rat meets guinea pig creatures) who can easily get into your backpack.

Mirror Lake - Mount Whitney Hike

Mirror Lake – Mount Whitney Hike

Looking up from the Mirror Lake was the next part which was named 99 switchbacks and is a tough section which really gains elevation over a short distance. Little figures were dotted on the slopes – humans dwarfed by the landscape. I tried to not to be too intimidated by the sense of scale and what that meant for our already tired legs. Onwards and upwards.

The 99 switchbacks section was where the mental part of the hike kicked in. Trying to remain positive and upbeat – knowing there is a final destination in the future – and thus trying to override your exhaustion and the feeling that maybe I’m not really cut out for this hiking lark. It was also here that the altitude and subsequent lack of oxygen started to kick in. Getting out of breath, headaches, blurred vision and the feeling that your legs are made of stone were now part of the struggle. Altitude sickness is the main reason people don’t make it to the top of Whitney. On the day ascent there’s a 50% failure rate. To cope with the elevation gain we’d take a rest every 15 minutes and eat some sugar – and then keep going. Onwards and upwards, what what. Through snowboarding I had spent some time in high altitude regions, most recently in the Himalayas, so altitude sickness wasn’t a major concern, but I still felt the lack of oxgyen.

Getting stuck in to 99 Switchbacks - a butt kicker!

Getting stuck in to 99 Switchbacks – a butt kicker!

Finally we reached the top of 99 switchbacks at Trail Crest (13650) – this is where it really started to get breathtaking. From here you look outwards to Mt Hithcock (13186) with deep blue lakes in the foreground, parts of the Kings Canyon sequoia forest are visible in the high plateau valley and beyond that more wildnerness with multitple 13,000 plus peaks of the High Sierras as far as the eye can see. It was Narnia meets Lord of the Rings. An immense, vast uninhabited wilderness of sublime and spellbinding beauty. At this point we had completed 8 miles of the hike. Only three more miles to the peak. Although still 14 miles back to base camp after – if – we summit. It was a constant math equation in my head – how many miles down? How high are we? Are we there yet?

Psychologically I was in a good place – it felt like this was the home stretch. We’d come up through the steep valley and now were going to ascend the ridge that led up to Whitney. The path snaked around the ridge, quite treacherous with steep drop offs and lots of boulders, but with each turn the views seemed to get more insane and other worldly. A sign marked where the trail branched off to the Jean Muir trail and at this point the summit was 1.9 miles away.  Finally we turned a corner and we could see the hut that lies on top of the smummit – although it was still a long way off. Two more hours away to be precise. Hikers coming down told us ‘not long to go’ trying to encourage us probably seeing the tired and anguished looks on our faces. Movement was slow as the altitude increased. I sat down every 15 minutes or so and ingested sweets and energy gels to keep my sugar levels high and to give me that surge required. Furstratingly it seemed like the summit wasn’t getting any closer. I had to resist stamping my feet in a childish tantrum. Are we there yet??

Ridge Crest overlook - out of this world scenery

Ridge Crest overlook – out of this world scenery – the High Sierras. uninhabited wilderness as far as the eye can see…

At this point it was where the trite ‘climbing mountains parallels life’ metaphors kick in. Despite the setbacks and struggles of the journey, keep the destination in mind as your goal. No pain no gain. Try and adopt a zen like meditative approach to the journey – mind over matter. Okay I hurt now but this is a passing moment. Keep going. Keep going. At 12.30 we reached the summit. I lied down on my back on a large slab of rock. I could have quite easily gone to sleep. Unfortunately clouds had come in so we couldn’t see much from the lookout. We’d did it! I treated myself to a Snickers bar (my dangled carrot motivational treat for the top) and we took our photos next to the Whitney summit sign. Then we signed the guest book in the Smithsonian hut. Then I thought to myself; ‘hang on, I’m only half way through – now I’ve got eleven more miles to go downhill whilst tired, arguably the most challenging bit. And I am totally cream crackered’.

Mount Whitney summit - I made it.

Mount Whitney summit – I made it.

Whatever they say, downhill is of course easier. You lose elevation and gravity is on your side. It’s tough on the joints though. Plus there were some quite technical sections over large rocks and boulders on the trail with steep and treacherous drop offs – one wrong step whilst tired and you could be toast. But always you felt ‘I’ve done it!’. I’m just returning. It’s just a long, long way home. The trail kept going on and on. At points I when I rested it felt like every molecule in my body was totally zonked – where can I muster the energy to keep going (more energy gels, more sweets). Despite the massive calorie burn I’m sure I put on weight on this journey. After five miles of the return journey I started to hate myself. ‘Who’s idea was this? I’m never hiking again. I hate hiking.’ Just emotional responses in the heat of the moment. I had to battle my way though my negative thinking. Rein in those thoughts and bring it back to the centre. Keep going.

It kept going on and on. And of course there was the whole 4 hour section of the hike which we’d earlier completed in the dark. Coming down we looked down the valley into the high desert. Beyond that another range of more barren peaks, part of the Inyo Mountains. Over those lies the desolate Death Valley. Not too far from the lowest point in the US in Death Valley (Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level) to where we’d just been, the highest point. A land of vast extremes, low to high, desert to forest, exhaustion to exhilaration, negative to positive, failure to success. I was in the 50% that made it. We are the 50%!

We descended and reached parts we hadn’t seen in the dark. Very lush, almost tropical sections with streams, rivers and waterfalls, deer and wild quail shared the trail, a place of Edenic abundance and beauty – except I was too tired to really appreciate it. We soldiered on. How much further? Four more miles. Three more miles. My legs were beyond exhaustion, joints acheing, ankles giving me gip. We’d started at 3 am and it was now 6. Finally we returned to base at 7. We did it. 16 hours on our feet hiking in high elevation – but we’d done it and conquered Mount Whitney. What’s next? A cold beer and a lie down I think. Maybe Everest.


More photos below:

Mount Whitney - how were the views? Not bad...

Mount Whitney – how were the views? Not bad…


Consultation Lake - Whitney

Consultation Lake – Whitney


A marmot

A marmot


Mirror lake - jagged peaks

Mirror lake – jagged peaks


Summit up? Cloudy at the top

Summit up? Cloudy at the top



Needle View

Needle View


Lakes and mountains - Whitney

Lakes and mountains – Whitney


National Geographic stream crossing

National Geographic stream crossing


View from the desert - she's a bigun'

View from the desert – she’s a bigun’



Posted by: martinworster | May 24, 2014

Grand Canyon, South Rim AZ

What can you really say about the Grand Canyon that hasn’t been said before? As one of the Seven Wonders of the world superlatives – immense, awe inspiring, breathtaking etc etc – don’t really do it justice. So yes, it is immense, awe inspiring and, you guessed it, breathtaking. We stayed in the South Rim and it’s very organized how well access is offered to the Canyon – some might say it is too well organized. There is a paved road that stretches many miles alongside the Canyone from which you can get off the free buses and admire the many viewpoints and places of interest. It’s a bit like a Disneyland of nature – although that said, the canyon is 120 miles long so you can venture way off the beaten track and get remote if you have the time and inclination.


It is incredibly beautiful – unfortunately the three days we were there visibility (pollution, winds stirring up dust) was not so great and as it was cloudy we did not get to see a shimmering sunset when the light travels for miles and the rocks change colour. From various vantage points you can see the Colorado River as it meanders through the gorge. I would like to return and do a white water rafting expedition, some of which can take up to 18 days as you camp en route, so it gives you some idea of the scale of this place.


I hiked down to Cedar Crest which is quite a way down in the Canyon but not all the way to the bottom. It’s a great perspective to see it from within and I shall be back to complete the Rim to Rim. Most of these photos are of my descent into the Canyon. Hopefully they do it some justice.






































Posted by: martinworster | May 1, 2014

Santa Ana Winds April 29 – Newport Beach Surf Goes Off….


We’ve just had a run of very dry and hot weather, buoyed up by the Santa Ana winds. Coupled with a 5-7 foot swell in the water it makes for amazing surfing conditions. Even better it was a combo swell – ie a south swell mixed with a NW swell making the waves peaky. The winds howl offshore and hence sculpt the waves, giving them a hollow shape and extra size and form. As it was a southerly swell the waves peel off perfectly on the west facing beaches and as they break the wind blows off white spray. It’s beautiful and made for some epic waves.


I’ve lived in Southern California for almost 9 years now (gulp) and normally remember Santa Ana winds, which form in the desert hence their dry and hot nature, coming around October time. The temperatures at the beach were 95-100 which is incredibly hot and the place feels like a furnace (hence also the risk of wild fires in the tinder like forests).

I love it when various climatic factors – winds and combo swells – come together to form amazing conditions like this and we are simply left to enjoy all that nature throws at us.


Newport Beach Surf - Martin Worster

Newport Beach Surf – Martin Worster

Posted by: martinworster | April 22, 2014

Death Valley

Ubehebe Crater - Death Valley

Ubehebe Crater – Death Valley

We’ve become quite adept at desert camping now. Last year we did two nights at Anza Borrego State Park and now we’ve just got back from two nights in Death Valley. I know it sounds a tad pretentious – bring out the crystals, sage and peyote – but there really is something spiritual about spending time in the desert. All that desolate open space, aridness, the vivid sunsets, stars and lack of people really does something for the soul….Taxi!

Golden Canyon - Death Valley

Golden Canyon – Death Valley

This spiritualism was particularly apparent to me on our first night when we had to camp in howling winds. At sunset there was a bit of wind – small gusts and flurries – which I thought would subside as darkness fell. I was wrong. Trying to sleep in a tent which has doubled over on itself to the point where the roof is touching your face is difficult. If it wasn’t for us being in it the tent would have blown away. Worried, I drove the car right in front of the tent in the direction of the wind thinking it would offer shelter – it didn’t. The most fascinating thing about the wind was the sounds. You could hear the whistle of the wind forming, or at least advancing, from further down the valley – then the volume would increase until thirty seconds later the wind hit you, knocking the tent over. This kept on in waves – the wind would die down, then the whistling and howling would start again and it would be attack time again. It was a sleepless night. But fascinating. I’ve never experienced wind like that, it must be a unique phenomena to a desert valley the way it formed and kept coming in cycles. It also gave me an interesting insight into how Native American’s – the Shoshone tribe lived in Death Valley – form of animism would have given names and personality to natural phenomena such as this. The wind really did have a malevolent spirit quality to it.

Chocolate Lunar - Death Valley

Chocolate Lunar – Death Valley

Death Valley feels very elemental. Nothing but sand and minerals, vast expanses of desolate flat land and endless, endless sky. Before going I didn’t know what to expect. Death Valley? What’s the point in going – there’s nothing there? There’s plenty there. And also plenty of nothing – which is actually part of the appeal. On the drive out of the south side of the valley we probably drove three hours and the scenery didn’t change much – and there’s no mobile phone coverage (also a bonus). The lack of change gave the beauty a unique repetitiveness. Looking to the west we could even see snow capped peaks – as part of the Sierra range, Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in continental US is due West. A lot of people take four wheel drives as there’s obviously a lot of opportunity for off roading – one sight that we wanted to see but didn’t is the Sailing Rocks (stones that mysteriously move across the valley floor) mainly as it takes three hours of off roading to get to it. Next time I’ll take my Jeep.

Vanilla Matterhorn - Death Valley

Vanilla Matterhorn – Death Valley

It’s definitely a place of extremes – it’s billed as the driest and lowest place in the US. Also the hottest in the world – Furnace Creek, near where we camped, holds the record for the highest reliably reported air temperature in the world, 134 °F (56.7 °C) on July 10, 1913. That’s why it’s not really possible to camp any time later than April as it just gets too hot. Luckily the temperature didn’t really exceed 90 °F peak time in the day and as there was wind throughout our whole stay it made it feel cooler. We even felt a slight sprinkle of rain for ten minutes on our first night (eh, I though this was billed as the driest place in the US, or is that just a silly marketing slogan?). One slight annoyance was the clouds getting in the way of our nighttime star gazing, which due to lack of light pollution is meant to be amazing here.

Badlands - Death Valley

Badlands – Death Valley

American National Parks are quite well run and Death Valley is no different in that all the major places of interest are well marked. We ticked off the main ‘must sees’ – Zabriskie Point (amazing views of the badlands, also the name of a great film by Michelangelo Antonioni), Ubehebe Crater (into which we hiked), Mesquite Flat sand dunes, Devils Golf Course, Badwater Basin (lowest point in US at 282 feet below sea level), Golden Canyon and Artists Drive. The scenery and colours of the rocks are amazing as due to volcanic activity the geology of the region has revealed many minerals, many of which have been mined over the years, including bauxite and of course gold. Artists Drive stands out for the amazing palette of pastels in the rocks – sands, amber, salmon pinks, grey blues, red and rusty reds. The views are mesmerizing and quite unlike anything I’ve seen…

Posted by: martinworster | April 9, 2014

Death Valley – Golden Canyon

Death Valley - Golden Canyon

Death Valley – Golden Canyon

Posted by: martinworster | March 19, 2014

Maui, Hawaiian Islands

Maui, Hawaiian Islands, originally uploaded by MartinWorster.

Posted by: martinworster | March 19, 2014

Maui, Hawaiian Islands

Maui, Hawaiian Islands, originally uploaded by MartinWorster.

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 339 other followers