Texte by Emily Bei Cheng - Photos by Emily Bei Cheng and Andy Wong
Earlier this year, I planned a bikepacking trip in Death Valley National Park. Death Valley is a massive desert valley in California that covers 13,650 km². It's famous for being the place where the hottest temperature in the world was ever recorded at 56.67C. Luckily, I squeezed in this bikepacking trip before the temperatures became unbearable in the summer months. The goal of this trip was to explore and build a new route that others could use as a bikepacking resource. The Echo-Titus Circuit is now live; check it out here: ECHO-TITUS CIRCUIT
The route crosses multiple mountain ranges including the Funeral Mountains and Bare Mountains. These morose names suggest an inhospitable environment, and while I'm certain it felt that way to the settlers that first traversed this desert, we were determined to make it our home for the next few days.
Water is scarce in Death Valley, so we stashed water caches along the route before starting our journey.
Twenty Mule Team Canyon was the first breathtaking landscape of the trip. The name itself doesn't inspire much awe, but the otherworldly scenery forces you to stop pedaling to properly take it all in. We arrived at golden hour as the the sun cast long shadows over the layered ridges.
The following day we climbed up to the high point of the route in the Funeral Mountains. The going was slow on rocky terrain and we found ourselves low on water, still 30 km from our water cache. We eventually flagged down a Jeep and the driver, surprised to see cyclists on this route, gave us 10L of water that we split amongst the 6 of us. Rehydrated (in both body and spirit) we pushed onwards and crossed the border from California to Nevada.
Away from civilization there are no border signs or no fences or fanfare to welcome us—just some whoops and hollers to each other as we rolled through.