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Salt to Summit: A Vagabond Journey from Death Valley to Mount Whitneyby Daniel Arnold
Synopses & Reviews
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 water 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
"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. "
Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About 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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