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Surviving Zabriskie

April 08, 2001

I'm glad John McKinney recommended hiking to Death Valley's Zabriskie Point early or late in the day ('A Golden Point of View at Zabriskie," Hiking, March 18).

Several years ago I joined a group from a community college for a field trip to Death Valley in mid-March that included the nature hike McKinney described.

It was late morning when the leaders dropped us off with instructions to hike to Zabriskie Point, where they would be waiting. They gave us the impression that this would be a relatively short distance, not the 900-foot elevation gain over the three-mile length that it is.

Off we went, some of us without water or proper headgear. The seniors in the group sweated profusely as they crawled up those switchbacks. Temperatures went well over 100 degrees.

I remember sitting in the limited shade of the sign at the top panting like a deer after a long run and thinking some very unkind words of those in charge.



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