November 27, 2014
From Death Valley we headed east towards Nevada and Las Vegas, stopping for a night just outside Vegas before we tackled the city to all explore the sights and sounds it offers!
Cycling between California and Nevada we were treated to the characteristic long, flat roads we know from films and posters which was a great way to spend a long day cycling!
Unfortunately with it being Thanksgiving we were unable to visit schools and although we were all glad to hit a little bit of civilisation (and a food shop!) and to see what Vegas was all about, it's safe to say we are were also all glad to make it back to the comfort and peace and quiet of the campsite also!
Along the journey we have been very fortunate to not have been involved in any accidents or breaks and bumps. Unfortunately our lucky streak was going to come to end whilst cycling our of Las Vegas earlier in the week. With Jenny's bike being run into by a car. Luckily the small bike attached via the followme took the actual hit and thank goodness there was no body on the small bike. So thankfully we were all ok but unfortunately the bikes needed a little TLC. We were so very fortunate enough to run into the guys from Broken Spoke bikes who fixed us up and got us back on our way. Thank you so much for Daryn and the rest of the team at broken spokes - your kindness in our time of need is very much appreciated.
We are now spending Thanksgiving weekend at Redrocks, just outside Las Vegas and a world renowned spot for climbing. We are joining Julie Faber (head of the camber of Commerce, Bishop), her family and friends as well as Greg, our good friend we made and stayed with whilst in Bishop.
Happy Thanksgiving all! From Redrocks we head towards the Grand Canyon and then down to Joshua Tree. If you know anyone in the area please do get in touch!
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!