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Ultimate Adventure 2016 - Day 2 Recap #UA2016

Posted in Ultimate Adventure: 2016 on June 22, 2016
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Photographers: 4 Wheel & Off-Road Staff

What would you do if record-setting heat were about to descend on the Southwest and you were right in the middle of it? Change plans? Book tickets to somewhere cooler? Or drive a gaggle of 18-plus 4x4s (almost none equipped with A/C or even real doors) through the heart of Death Valley on the same day that decades-old heat records were expected to fall? If you were on this year’s Ultimate Adventure, the last answer would be correct.

After making repairs and prepping for the first real road day of the UA, by the time the group started out from Ridgecrest the temperature was already over 90 degrees. While a quick jaunt to the north was possible on paved highways, adventure can’t be found on well-trodden paved roads; rather, it is found among the millions of miles of unpaved roads all over the world. And few of those dirt roads are in places more remote than Death Valley. How the area got its name is well understood when you are passing through in summer. The valley claims a few unprepared victims each year that fail to prepare themselves for the harsh conditions of one of the hottest places on earth. The Ultimate Adventure was up to the challenge, despite the severe heat warnings.

The group set out early for Panamint Springs, then hit the dirt for nearly 140 miles while traveling through remote places like Darwin, Saline Valley, Death Valley Road, and other, unnamed places. Nearly every vehicle succumbed to the severe heat, forcing virtually every member of the group to pull over at one time or another and let the engine or transmission (or both) cool off to avoid more catastrophic failures.

After experiencing temperatures that varied from 119 to 123 degrees depending on the measuring tool, the group finally got a reprieve from the heat and some altitude with the first camp night near June Lake. True to Ultimate Adventure form, the first road day and its record-setting heat didn’t end until nearly 15 hours after it began, leaving a tired but happy crew, now dressed in sweatshirts to ward off the 50-degree weather at the lake, to talk about the unbelievable blast-furnace they had traveled through. Just another UA day in the books.

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