Wow, When I left Montana in August it was hot and smokey. I guess 3 weeks was an appropriate amount of time to be gone. At any rate we just made it back to civilization, and I have to say, civilization is overrated. The desert is a quiet place, full of mystery, discovery, and wonder. One thing I really love about traveling overland style is it can afford you time to really experience a place. I like wheeling, don't get me wrong, but I really value experiencing these landscapes outside the cab as well. The desert gets under your skin (in a good way). It's one of those situations where you get home and you can't get it out of your head-the places you saw and the places you want to go. Keeps me up at night sometimes. Death Valley is one of these places. The Park it'self is over 2 million acres, but even outside the park are really weird and strange places to visit and sights to behold. Death Valley is a place where thousands of years of Native history, mining history, volcanoes, dunes, mountains, and desert hippy rat art converge into a bizarre scene from a Hunter S Thompson novel. Elevation: I've never been so aware of elevation in my life-not even during my mountaineering career. The lower you go the hotter it gets. Death Valley is home to the lowest point in the western hemisphere-Badwater is aright around 285 ft BELOW sea level. This is the hottest place I have ever experienced. You definitely feel the extra weight of the atmosphere above you and the temperatures were around 135°. My phone and GPS protested and both shut off. My GPS wouldn't turn back on until I stuck it in the fridge for a couple of hours. I had to hike about a mile in that weather and felt like I was about to die, literally. That same day we drove up to about 8000ft where the weather was much nicer at 76°. We then hiked 7 miles up to Telescope Peak-the highest point in the park at 11058ft. The first 5 days of the trip were kind of a blur as we were participating in a Rally/Scavenger Hunt/GPS way point collecting hunt. Every day we had 10-12 GPS way-points we had to collect and 4-5 items we would have to show up at the Checkpoint with. The Way-points were often very far apart, were always way down a dirt road or trail, and often required hiking in such a harsh environment. In 5 days we saw a lot of amazing things. Mining ruins, geological features, petroglyphs, strange hippy art, and even stranger individuals. The items we had to collect were usually some kind of fruit: bananas, apples, limes, Tacate Beer, always 5 gallons of water, receipts from the local joints and dives, etc. The old bank in Rhyolite, NV We even saw Charles Manson's old Dodge Power Wagon. Told ya this place was weird Charcoal Kilns This rally was very team oriented (Navigator/Driver/Peakbagger etc.) Every night was spent making dinner and poring over pats and GPS planning the next day's route. Some roads were closed (sometimes other teams would make the road appear to be closed), so you always had to plan out your route and gas stops etc. All told the 5 days had us driving about 1200 miles. The GPS coordinates were so far apart some days you couldn't possibly collect them all and arrive at the checkpoint before the DQ cutoff.