Start time: 09:31:00 AM on Monday, February 14, 2022
Finish time: 09:25:00 AM on Friday, February 18, 2022
Total time: 3 days, 23 hours, 54 minutes
Consistent with the original description for this route, I hiked solo and unsupported, carried all food and water* from the start, obeyed leave-no-trace principles, abided by the rules of DVNP (e.g., no sleeping on the valley floor or within one mile of roads), and avoided all contact with civilization and other people (no trails, no roads, no entering campsites, etc.). Over these four days, I experienced a major windstorm, a haboob (airborne wall of sand), 100+F temperatures on the salt flats, a salt swamp, arsenic- and uranium-laden water sources, a poisonous gas vent, moonlit routefinding over open desert, and devastating fatigue resulting in visual, auditory, and olfactory hallucinations. While it made for quite an adventure, I hope to never do it again.
After exhaustive research and on-site investigation, I identified a few natural surface water seeps (i.e., shallow, salty, mud puddles) at strategic locations through the park that I used to provide water periodically along the way, about every 40 miles. In preparation to attempt this traverse in 2021, I drank water from these sources, and even after filtering, the water made me extremely ill for several months. After having seen several doctors, gotten an endoscopy, and had two CT scans, and numerous blood tests, the conclusion that I have reached is that I contracted a water-borne virus from these water sources. Thus, I encourage anyone drinking from them to chemically treat their water to avoid major illness. Further testing of these water sources has indicated that they are fully mineralized and contain high levels of arsenic, uranium, sodium, and other contaminants, so drink at your own risk. I confirmed that I am not breaking DV rules by consuming a small amount of water from them, if extracted in a careful manner so as to not disturb these delicate ecosystems. Please respect the land and ecology of this special environment.
I've written considerably about the trip on Strava with some photos included there. I took a bunch of photos and video footage out there, and I'm hoping to turn it into some sort of mini film of my experience. I will post it back here when it's done. For now, here are my Strava activity reports for each day:
Day 1: https://www.strava.com/activities/6713742526
Day 2: https://www.strava.com/activities/6713754263
Day 3: https://www.strava.com/activities/6713763604
Day 4: https://www.strava.com/activities/6714303076
In short, it was really hard and painful and exhausting, but also super awesome and beautiful and exciting. I'm still wiped out a week after having completed it.