November 19, 2014
We made it to Badwater Basin and Death Valley Schools
We did it!! TOPtoTOP Global Climate expedition made it from the highest point on the North American continent, Mount Denali, to the lowest - Badwater Basin, Death Valley, all under natures force and human power.
On Monday 17th Novemeber we had a early start to visit the handful of elementary school children who live and study in Furnace Creek. Although a very small class, it was great to visit and spend time with the young students, hearing how they adapt their lives to the intense summer heat they experience. Thank you for having us!
We also passed the impressive solar energy complex at furnace creek, which we were informed provides the area with around 30% of their energy needs - a really good starting place to build upon!
We then cycled the final 17 miles to Badwater Basin, our end goal on the cycle - a very momentous day. Celebrating the 'finish line' with Lindt chocolate and BBQ crisps - a real treat!!
The cycle alone has brought us over 1,300km on bike, climbing a total 35,400 feet (thats 1.2 x the height of everest!!!) taking us through all climate zones. Along the way we have met so many kind and generous people - thank you all again for your support in getting us here!
With the elevation level so low, the ground was hard and very salty, producing a white blank canvas. Dario pointed out that although very different climates, the peak of Denali and the pit of Badwater did have quite a few similarities; both were white, barren and subject to the extreme of the continents climate.
We then cycled on to a spot a the edge of the valley - leaving the two passes we needed to climb to get out of the valley until the next day. We were greeted with the most impressive sunrise over our little camp, which was a good wake up call before climbing the Jubilee and then Salsbury pass out of death valley, before heading down into Shoshone, where we had two talks at the Death Valley high school in the afternoon.
We are now camped in Tecopa and will be heading eastward into Nevada and on to Las Vegas, visiting schools there before the long Thanksgiving weekend. The next month or so, will then be spent cycling from school to school in Nevada and Southern California. If you know anyone in the Las Vegas or surrounding areas, or if you yourself are based there - please do get in touch! It's always great to meet people along the way!
To download our latest press here - en_2014-11-19_press-release-toptotop-small.pdf
More photos to be found on dropbox when higher internet speeds allow too.
November 15, 2014
We made it to Death Valley National Park!
On Thursday we set off from boulder creek RV resort - after having spent a lovely week there! Thank you so much to Jacque and her amazing team for having us - the hot tub at the end of the whitney climb was a particular highlight!! As well as free muffins and coffee every morning!
We were waved off by the LA co. fire department 'old boys' camping group who had invited us earlier in the week to their 'pot luck' dinner. Thank you for being so kind and generous to us whilst we have been at the RV park! Hope to see you all soon when we pass LA early next year.
We then headed down highway 136 towards death valley. 25km in to our trip we hit the 1000km mark on our cycle from San Francisco. It was quite a moment - thank you to our stromer bikes for getting us this far so safe and sound!
We were then struggling against a strong head wind on the climb up to the 'Welcome to Death Valley National Park' sign (which was a very welcome sight!). We gobbled some left over halloween treats as a well done to us for making it there and then continued up the steep and windy road towards the valley... with the promise that at some point.... given that we are making our way to the lowest point on the continent, it simply had to start going downhill!
We were not disappointed either, shortly after one of the most stunning vistas we have been blessed with so far, we were then treated to 15km of smooth downhill riding in the setting sun.
We are we then able to camp for the night at Panamint springs before setting off further into Death Valley early this morning.
This mornings ride wasn't a particularly easy start to the day, with a 3765ft climb over the Towne Pass. Luckily the mountain sheltered the head wind which made the climb a little more friendly!
We then headed downhill for what will be the final time en route to Badwater Basin, heading 70km down into the hub of death valley - Furnace Creek; which is where we are now camped, sitting at 190ft below sea level!
Over the weekend we are planning our approach to Badwater as well as preparing to do a presentation at the very tiny school here at furnace ceek on Monday morning!
November 11, 2014
Mount Whitney Clean up and Bristlecone Pine Forest
We made it!
Over the weekend we climbed Mount Whitney to perform a clean up of the trail and summit.
The first group, consisting of Dario, Salina, Andre, Anina and Jenny along with our friends Adrien, Anthony and Summer from Bishop.
We left Whitney portal at 11pm on Friday evening. With the trail lit by the full moon we were blessed with near perfect conditions; very little wind and although a lot of snow on the ground, it wasn't too cold.
Whilst walking along the trail we all looked out for any plastic/ rubbish we could collect, but were very pleased to find very little to clean up and were treated to some spectacular views as the sun began to rise.
We made a few short stops along the way, but tried to push through, spreading out slightly to suit individuals pace.
The first made it to the summit at 8am, with us all summiting by 9am.
It was an incredible achievement and Salina and Andre must be amongst the youngest people to make it to the summit in one day un-aided. We were so pleased to see the summit so clean also. Then came the gruelling decent, which unexpectedly proved tougher than the climb.... partly because now in the daylight we could see how far we had left to go!
Part of the way down we re-grouped with Sabine, Noe, Alegra, more of the friends we made in Bishop; Nancy, Evan, Greg and Diana as well as several people who had heard of the clean up via facebook, twitter and a shout out on the local radio. This group has made it about a 3rd of the way up the trail, cleaning-up the main base camp area. Again, we were thrilled to find that there was very little there for us to clean-up which correlated with the exceptionally well kept trail up to the summit. As planned, Sabine then made for the summit herself whilst the rest of us dragged our now very tired legs back to Whitney Portal and then home.
After a days rest on Sunday, today we went out and visited the local Bristlecone Pine Forest, with Diana Cunningham our very knowledgeable guide!
The forest it the oldest living in the world, with many of the trees dating back to over 4,000 years ago.
The durability of the forest and trees is thanks to both the nature of the species of tree but also to the predictability and stability of the areas climate.
The trees are a spectacular site, with many of the trunks twisting and turning in amazing formations. Whilst there we read about the forest commissions fears for the tress future, and how climate change potentially bring around changes to the area which the trees may not be able to handle.
For more information on these amazing trees, see here.
November 8, 2014
Lone Pine Elementary School Visit
This morning we made a visit to Lone Pine Elementary school and put on two presentations to their 250 students.
The first was the muppet show to their k-3rd graders followed by Darios presentation to the 4th-7th grade.
Thanks for having us! We look forward to receiving your drawing contest entries!
This afternoon we have been busy preparing for the climb and clean up on Mount Whitney. If you are planning on getting involved please do get in touch to let us know :)
Will let you know how we get on tomorrow!
November 7, 2014
Leaving Bishop, Cycling to Lone Pine and Mount Whitney Clean Up!
We left the Best Western hotel on Monday, after two very luxurious complementary nights stay, thank you so much again to Rob and Joe at Best Western for having us. Since leaving Yosemite we all are suffering from a Flu-like bug we can't seem to shake off, so a couple of nights in nice warm beds were just what we needed after a months camping!
We were then lucky enough to stay a further 2 nights in Bishop; allowing us to sample some of the world renowned climbing in the area we had been told so much about. Our very welcoming hosts and tour guides were Adrien, Nancy, their sons Evan and Anthony, and their good friends Greg and Diana. We had met Adrien at the high school whilst doing a presentation, and then when invited to dinner at their house, had been introduced to Greg.
On Tuesday we spent our last day in Bishop climbing the Happy Boulders with Greg and then had a swiss meal cooked by Sabine with the two families. Thank you so much to you all for welcoming us into your homes. With Adrien and Greg both originally hailing from the UK, it was so nice for me (Jenny) to hear a homely accent again, and even have the dulcet tones of radio 4 playing in the background at times! Thank you also for the Yorkshire Tea and Marmite - my mornings back on the road have been revolutionised with this lovely taste of home at breakfast!
Before leaving Bishop Dario was invited to speak at the Bishop Rotary Club, at their Wednesday morning meeting. Thank you for having us - please do stay in touch.
We then left Bishop and headed along highway 395, covering 110km down to Lone Pine. A tough distance any way you look at it, but made especially difficult for Dario whose electric bike was broken and so cycled without any motor assistance! No mean feat.
This morning, Dario was invited to speak at our friend from Bishop, Dianas, work place in the small town of Independence. Thank you for the warm welcome he received there.
We are staying at the Boulder Creek RV park which Julie from the Bishop chamber was able to set up for us. It's a great place to call home for a few days - thank you to Jacque and family for letting us stay! Jacque was also kind enough to show us the 'Alabama Hills' this afternoon. This incredibly unique rock formation is the set for hundreds of wild west films and car adverts. It was a spectacular place to spend a few hours - thanks for the tour!
We have also been busy organising a big clean up on Mount Whitney, which will take place this Saturday. Mount Whitney is the highest mountain in the lower 48 states of the american continent and is a very popular route with climbers and hikers from around the world.
Please see below for how you can get involved! The more the merrier!
There will be two groups leaving, details below;
Group 1) Meeting at the Boulder creek RV park at 11.30pm Friday evening, driving to the base and hiking to the summit and back down again. We expect to be back at the base at around 5pm.
2) Meeting at the Boulder Creek RV park at 8.30am Saturday morning, driving to the base and hiking part of the way up and meeting group 1 on their way down to do the clean up at around lunch time. We will then hike the final decent all together.
We really hope you can join us and please share/pass on to anyone you know in the Inyo County area - the more the merrier!
What to bring with you;
- Garbage bag with you to collect rubbish on the clean up
- Warm Clothes
- Suitable footwear
- Enough food and water for yourself for the duration of the hike.
November 4, 2014
Bishop Elementary School visit and Petroglyphs
Just a small update from today. We spent this morning speaking with 500 of Bishop Elementary schools students which was fantastic to have such a huge audience! Thank you for having us and for all of your questions!!
We then joined local Julie Faber on a short hike, she showed us the Petroglyphs on the volcanic tablelands just outside the Bishop City Centre.
The Petroglyphs are believed to be around 8,800 years old, and are designs pecked into these darker, exposed rocks, making them different from the more commonly found pictographs; which are designs painted on...more photos to follow on dropbox once we reach some more reliable internet!!
November 2, 2014
Bishop High School Visit
From Mammoth we headed 50km down Highway 395 towards Bishop. Despite being mostly downhill or flat, it was one of the toughest days cycling due to the very strong persistent headwind.
As we dropped down in elevation the change in landscape was remarkable. We emerged into the Owens valley and with mountains flanking us we headed down into the desert valley.
We were lucky enough to find a lovely campsite just outside of the busy town of Bishop. Browns Millpond Campground with showers (!!) and laundry was a great haven to take shelter from the high winds and promised incoming storm for a couple of nights. Thank you for having us.
On Friday 31st October we visited Bishop High school and did two presentations, one to their AP environmental classes and one to a smaller group of students. We hope you enter the climate expedition award, it was great to speak with an audience where climate change and the issues surrounding it such a huge part of their curriculum.
On Monday we are looking forward to visiting the elementary school and talking to some of their 150 younger students.
Whilst in Bishop over the weekend, Salina was treated to a 2 hour hack with one of the high school teachers we met at the school on Friday. Elizabeth Evans has been training horses for years and was kind enough to take Salina out. Thank you so much for a wonderful morning - it is a dream come true for Salina.
With snow storms and 'the start of winter' predicted to pass through Bishop over the weekend we were kind enough to be aided by Julie Faber and Tawni Thompson from the Bishop Chamber of Commerce, in helping us find somewhere a little more sheltered to stay. They were fantastic and helped us secure 3 rooms in the Best Western Lodge for 2 nights. Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce and Rob and Joe from Best Western for sponsoring us 2 nights at your hotel. It is incredibly generous and after 4 weeks on the road camping it is a huge luxury and treat for us to be staying here and sheltering from the weather.
Autumn leaves are now starting to scatter the ground we cycle along and with the first snow now starting to settle on the mountains around us, it highlights even further how unique this region is in that it covers all climates. Within an hours drive you can be in the desert of Death Valley or skiing in the peaks surrounding Bishop and Mammoth. It really is very unique and makes their landscape and vista very interesting.
After speaking at the elementary school on Monday we will be heading on through Big Pine and Lone Pine - if you know anyone in those areas, or you live there yourself - please do get in touch. We would love to meet you.