Darwin Falls in Panamint Springs (The First Date…) … May 15th, 2016

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So folks, I met this girl at #StovepipeWellsVillage… yep… She’s pretty damn cool… She’s a music teacher from Ohio who unfortunately lost her Dad to cancer and decided to hit the road, working as a #TravelingServer…

It was a beautiful day… the Temperature was in the 100’s… A nice predictable dry heat with hardly any wind…

#PanamintSpringsResort is about 20 minutes from #StovepipeWellsVillage… So it’s a destination us on-site workers like to go to, so we can get a break from our job and living situation without having to travel too far… And also their restaurant has some damn good pizza… especially inviting considering you can’t find any Italian food out here in the desert… lol…

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Panamint became a place on the modern day map when a post office opened here from 1940 to 1946… Not much history is easily found about this area except for there is a nice little rustic RV resort with cabins to rent, a gas station and a restaurant/bar… The Hiking around here is amazing also, with old ghost towns and #TheWild RoseCharcoalKilns which date back to the late 1800’s… #PanamintSprings prides itself on being a location where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of other busy resorts in #DeathValley…

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So where’s a better place to have a first date… Not only is there a great little restaurant to eat at here but there’s also a gorgeous hike to a famous waterfall called #DarwinFalls… I wish I could take credit for this idea but Tracey deserves all of it… She had worked in Death Valley before and knew a lot of good places to explore…

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Just a little while after you pass the Panamint resort, you pull off this road to find a small #trail… It doesn’t look like much until you start making your way along a #stream…

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There were all of these little #tadpoles swimming around in the stream… I looked it up later and found out there is a #DesertToad that lives in these parts of Death Valley… They lay their many eggs in the water and let #nature take care of the rest… I could see why there were so many tadpoles considering their chance of survival is very slim in this ever hot, volatile area full of predators…

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Shortly after we started the hike, we came to this small yet gorgeous waterfall… but not without some complications…

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Before we could even see the waterfall, we ran into two young ladies who were sitting on a rock, giggling… They warned us that their photography teacher was taking a quick skinny dip ahead… Tracey and I hesitated for a moment but then continued on with caution… I’ve seen it before and I was guessing Tracey has also… So we decided to just move on and let what happens, happen…

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And low and behold, when we reached the #waterfall, there was this nerdy looking gentleman drying himself off with no care in the world… business all out to see… He was very polite and apologized for the state of his appearance… We joked around a little, told our life stories and then moved on…

I have to say, I found myself a little perturbed that he had students waiting for him while he took a naked swim but then I caught myself and realized I was being ridiculous… He obviously made them wait out of view and the girls were of college age…We take the naked body too seriously in this country, folks! All of these ridiculous thoughts going through my head about a man who just wanted to take a dip and not have wet soggy underwear for the rest of the day… I admire his lack of shame… lol…

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I have to say, it was really weird seeing a waterfall out in the middle of the #Desert… It was like you were suddenly out of the hot dry desert and stumbled into this magical fantasy world… It reminded me of those old cartoons where the character has been walking through the desert for hours and finally discovers a little tucked away haven with a pond, only to find out it’s a hallucination… lol… I kept on picturing a thirsty hillbilly doing the backstroke in hot sand…

I wonder how many lost explorers Darwin Falls has saved out in the middle of this desolate area… You are one lucky man if you get lost out here and are fortunate enough to run into this little tucked away haven… Especially considering it’s the only natural year round water supply in Death Valley… Yep, this place is a lot more special than you think…

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As impressive as this small waterfall and pond was, Tracey informed me that there was an even larger waterfall yonder… But to get to it, we had hike up this pretty steep #RockFormation… A lot of these rocks and rock formations are the result of #AncientVolcanoes… #DeathValley has a lot #geology and is one of the hotspots for geologists to come…

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There were tons of lizards around… Almost everywhere you looked, there was a #lizard… Considering they eat tadpoles, I know now why the Desert Toad lays so many eggs…

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I’m so used to a desert where you have to search hard to find any wildlife… but when you come out here to #DarwinFalls, you realize what a difference a little water makes… I mean, there was wildlife everywhere you looked… These creatures had found the garden of eden out here in this desert and trust me, none of them are leaving anytime soon… lol! If these lizards were on a human social scale, they would be the Beverly Hills lizards of Death Valley…How’s that for a reality TV show?

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It was like a retirement home for lizards, insects, birds and fish… Not only do they enjoy a constant year round supply of water, they also have plenty of places out here to enjoy shade and get a bite to eat…  This is exactly what the man in the cartoon was looking for!

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The hike to the next waterfall was challenging and a bit more dangerous… It was very steep at parts and required quite a bit of careful climbing… A couple of times I reached for something to grab, only to grab a loose rock… All it takes is one bad misstep and this what seems to be an easy climb becomes fatal… Never underestimate nature folks! I know I keep on repeating it but it’s an important lesson for us arrogant humans to learn…

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We got up pretty high when we noticed our photographer friend getting ready to leave below… lol… Hey, if you have the balls to skinny dip in such a popular location, more power to you… And trust me, he had the balls… lol… I myself am way too shy to be so bold…

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There was a lot of loose gravel as we got closer to the top… I would definitely bring your hiking boots and a backpack for this venture…

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And after about 30 minutes of climbing, we came to this clearing at the top of a #cliff…  I was shocked at how high we had climbed and how far the drop was below us…

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Yet the reward was well worth the risk… Breathtaking!

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The waterfall was magnificent! The water seemed to magically appear out of the rock and fall 100’s of feet below… The sound was mighty even though the stream of water didn’t seem so vigorous from where we stood…

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My stomach got butterflies when I cautiously stepped to the edge to peek below… The waterfall was perfectly hidden by cliffs surrounding it… This beautiful site made you work to see it and it gives me a certain pleasure to know that this particular spot is practically inhabitable by humans, so they can’t alter it’s beauty… As much as I would love to build a cabin right on this cliff, I understand that some places are better just left alone… Thanks #TheodoreRoosevelt! The idea of #NationalParks wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for you!

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I remember thinking to myself that this could be possibly the best first date I have ever been on… We soaked in the magnificent surroundings while we #hiked, chatted and got to know each other…

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After the hike, Tracey and I got a pizza and a drink at the #PanamintRestaurant/Bar and then headed for #BadWaterBasin to see the #sunset…#BadWater is the lowest point in #NorthAmerica at #282FeetBelowSeaLevel… The water there is undrinkable… Hence the name…

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On our way we stopped to look at a famous #BoraxMining area, which is right before #FurnaceCreekResort… Furnace Creek is a famous, luxurious resort out here in the #desert…  It even has it’s own golf course… lol! Yes, you can actually play golf out here in the desolate desert…

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This area is also famous for the #20MuleTeam… They used to have a team of twenty mules who would carry all of the #borax mined out of Death Valley over to the nearest railway… Borax is a rare substance that is plentiful out here in the desert and is used in soap… Every year Furnace Creek will have a reenactment of this old #DeathValleyTradition… A very popular event out here in the valley considering the obstacles they would endure just to get this borax out in the middle of nowhere…

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A lot of the #OldMiningEquipment still lays here… It’s all rusted and weather beaten now, which gives you this eerie feeling, like you are in an old #GhostTown of some sort…

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It’s so quiet and calm out here you could hear a mosquito fart… The silence almost weighs on you and makes you feel heavier, like you are closer to the earth somehow…

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It’s definitely a different feeling out here than anywhere else in Death Valley…  The temperature rises about 5 to 10 degrees as you sink lower into the earth and the pressure is definitely more noticeable… You feel more grounded out here… My stomach actually got a little upset…

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We soon were back in the car heading over to see the sunset when we passed this #coyote walking through Furnace Creek Resort… The coyotes out here are very bold… They will walk right up to your car looking for something to eat… Even though the tourists are told not to feed them out here, they do… It’s hard to ignore such a brave and bold approach but it does the animals no service feeding them because they become reliant on handouts and become domesticated… That’s a sure recipe for disaster out in this environment, when those handouts eventually disappear with the #tourists…

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Bad Water Basin looked like a lake from afar… I could have sworn there was water there… Even in this picture above, it looks like we are traveling along the ocean, not a #SaltFlat in a desert…

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Bad Water Basin was pretty damn remarkable… It’s so vast and empty… You can definitely see where the water once used to be…

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To think we are at the lowest place in North America… This is where the ocean was the deepest… This is where all of the deep ocean creatures lived… All of this salt around us used to float in water millions and millions of years ago… It completely blows #TheTravelingMac’s mind!

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At the entrance they had this cute little #boardwalk which lead you to the salt flats…

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The sun was starting to do its romantic business in the background… That whole path above, which looks like it’s a dirt path, is all salt…

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I have never seen anything like this… It almost looks like week old snow from back east… The ground was very hard and made a little crunching noise when you walked…

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Believe it or not, there is actually #wildlife out here… Including the #BadWaterSnail… The reason the water is undrinkable around here is because of the high salt content… But many insects and snails thrive in such environments… They say this part of Bad Water is the lowest point but really the lowest point is a little farther away… But it’s so hazardous that you can’t walk out that far because thin layers of salt hover over deep, mud areas… Someone could easily make the wrong step and fall through…

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Tracey and I held hands and watched the sunset… It was a great first date… Just two people getting to know each other as they explore the mysterious world… Can’t get much more romantic than that…

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