This past October 2015, I was poised to set out pedaling my new ICE Full Fat tricycle across the Mojave Desert, as most of you realize. Everything that could go wrong did, led by the month-long record-setting October flooding of the desert, which included severe damage to large portions of my expedition route. Death Valley, being so low, was hit the worst, and I could not have pedaled through it even if I had actually set out (I was at the starting point in Big Pine, California, with trike loaded and ready to go, when nature sent a clear signal that to do so could result in something called death – I literally terminated this 410 mile journey about an hour prior to my departure time). To read more details and see photos, visit this page of the Mojave Traverse website. Below are brief excerpts (edited for brevity) from two regional articles I just happened upon this week, which provide further confirmation that I made the best decision in aborting the trek:
DEATH VALLEY RECOVERING FROM FLOODING
Margo Bartlett Pesek, Las Vegas Review Journal, January 3, 2016 – excerpts from article
About a third of the park’s roads were affected by the October 2015 flooding. During the deluge that hit the park’s northern end October 18, 3½ inches of rain fell in five hours, just half an inch less than the area’s average yearly rainfall. The same storm brought more than an inch of rain to Furnace Creek. Several storms followed the first on October 18, making October 2015 the wettest month on record in Death Valley. (Trike Hobo note: This writer did not mention the other severe weather in October, namely the flooding of October 4 and October 15-16 2015, both of which also caused extensive damage and road closures).
DEATH VALLEY STILL DIGGING OUT AFTER OCTOBER FLOODING
By Henry Brean, Las Vegas Review-Journal, December 22, 2015 – excerpts from article
Three months after flash floods hammered Death Valley October 2015, one of the national park’s main attractions and two of its paved entrance roads remain closed, and they’re expected to stay that way well into 2016. More specific estimates won’t be available until construction contracts have been awarded for the road repairs. It is likely to be a few years until everything is repaired to pre-flood conditions. Death Valley officials are calling the October event “the most expensive natural disaster in park history,” with damage in the tens of millions of dollars. Road repairs alone in the 3.4 million acre park 100 miles west of Las Vegas are expected to cost $12 million to $15 million. The park has secured Federal Highways Administration funding to pay for the work. At least some of that money will be used to reinforce portions of Badwater Road that have been damaged by flooding three times in the past 11 years. Long road closures because of flash floods are not uncommon in a place so unaccustomed to sudden downpours. The floor of Death Valley averages less than 2 inches of rain a year, but more than an inch fell in just a few days at the park’s official weather station at Furnace Creek during what turned out to be the wettest October on record there. (Trike Hobo note: My trike expedition was scheduled for the second two weeks of October, perfectly timed for this mega natural disaster.)