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Salt to Summit: A Vagabond Journey from Death Valley to Mount Whitney
     

Salt to Summit: A Vagabond Journey from Death Valley to Mount Whitney

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by Daniel Arnold
 

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From the depths of Death Valley, Daniel Arnold set out to reach Mount Whitney in a way no road or trail could take him. Anything manmade or designed to make travel easy was out. With a backpack full of empty two-liter bottles, and the remotest corners of desert before him, he began his toughest test yet of physical and mental endurance.

Badwater Basin sits 282

Overview

From the depths of Death Valley, Daniel Arnold set out to reach Mount Whitney in a way no road or trail could take him. Anything manmade or designed to make travel easy was out. With a backpack full of empty two-liter bottles, and the remotest corners of desert before him, he began his toughest test yet of physical and mental endurance.

Badwater Basin sits 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley, the lowest and hottest place in the Western Hemisphere. Mount Whitney rises 14,505 feet above sea level, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Arnold spent seventeen days traveling a roundabout route from one to the other, traversing salt flats, scaling dunes, and sinking into slot canyons. Aside from bighorn sheep and a phantom mountain lion, his only companions were ghosts of the dreamers and misfits who first dared into this unknown territory. He walked in the footsteps of William Manly, who rescued the last of the forty-niners from the bottom of Death Valley; tracked John LeMoigne, a prospector who died in the sand with his burros; and relived the tales of Mary Austin, who learned the secret trails of the Shoshone Indians. This is their story too, as much as it is a history of salt and water and of the places they collide and disappear.

Guiding the reader up treacherous climbs and through burning sands, Arnold captures the dramatic landscapes as only he can with photographs to bring it all to life. From the salt to the summit, this is an epic journey across America's most legendary desert.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Death Valley's Badwater Basin is the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere, and California's Mount Whitney is the highest point in the Lower 48, making logical and extreme endpoints for outdoor writer, climber, and philosopher Arnold (Early Days in the Range of Light) to connect—and chronicle—on foot. But his meandering journey from the "deepest pile of nothing" to the "glorious pile of weathered and levered granite" is completely off the beaten path: it follows a "no-trails mandate," leading through remote canyons, across vast playas, and over brilliantly-colored peaks. Arnold's whimsy and determination turn the journey into part meditation, part history lesson, all told in evocative language. Along the way, he encounters remnants and reminders of miners, prospectors, pioneers, misfits, tourists, authors, and Native Americans. Of course, long walks are slow-paced by their nature, so the book's momentum occasionally sags; Arnold's memory for detail is both impressive and exhausting, and the inherent repetition of his days creates a sense of beautiful numbness. In the end, the tale suffers from a slight lack of drama and suspense, but then "That's the trouble with the desert when you have a destination. You'll see where you're headed for a good long while before you get there." Photos. (June)
From the Publisher

Praise for Early Days in the Range of Light

“Ever wish you could travel back to climbing’s early days and follow the earliest first-ascent visionaries? This fantasy comes to life . . . In this elegant narrative.” —Climbing Magazine

“A spirited journey . . . This well-written memoir and travelogue should find a welcome home in many climbing collections.” —Kirkus

“With great originality and insight . . . This is a splendid chronicle of early climbing in the Sierra Nevada.” —Royal Robbins

Library Journal
Arnold (Early Days in the Range of Light: Encounters with Legendary Mountaineers) is one tough guy—he's not even slightly intimidated by the hazardous extremes of California's deserts and mountains he describes in a travel memoir that also offers up a hearty does of history. Aware of the dangers before him, he relishes the challenge as he sets out from the Badwater Basin in Death Valley, CA, at 282 feet below sea level to the peak of Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet above it, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Interspersed with his own experiences hiking along a route he planned himself are those of travelers who came through this area before him: Mary Arnold, who learned the secret trails of the Shoshone Indians; William Manly, who rescued the last of the forty-niners from the bottom of Death Valley; and even the infamous Charles Manson. A useful appendix of sources will help the reader consult other firsthand accounts. VERDICT Arnold infuses the narrative of his strenuous journey with eloquence. For avid outdoors types and students of California history. (Photographs not seen.)—Olga B. Wise, Austin, TX

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781619020849
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
06/01/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Daniel Arnold is the author of Early Days in the Range of Light, and his work has appeared in Rock and Ice, The Mountain Gazette, and elsewhere. He lives in Sonora, California, with his wife and son.

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Salt to Summit: A Vagabond Journey from Death Valley to Mount Whitney 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't use it as a trail guide! Aronlds "trails" are not for everyone (anyone else?) - but it IS a fun adventure read. It might help to have some knowledge of the land but if not, imagine yourself as the author trying to transcend the region. If you do know something of the Eastern Sierra you understand the hardship faced here. The land is beyond unforgiving. Everything is at an extreme from elevations to depth of sand to right angle cuts of rock to climate changes. The idea of trying yourself against such a place must come with the knowledge that it isn't going to suffer fools lightly. Arnold conveys this. It's a good adventure read, for those who have been in some of these places, it's a harrowing return.