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Sierra Daily

Jul 26, 2011

New Ways to Find Death in Death Valley


Here's a scenario fit for a future edition of Survive, Sierra's how-not-to-die-outdoors department. You're driving across Death Valley in a hurry to get where you're going. (Warning signs should be flashing already.) You ask your trusty GPS for directions. Next thing you know, you're hopelessly lost in a maze of old mining roads that GPS recognizes but that don't really exist anymore.

As Krissy Clark reports on NPR today, that's exactly what happens to visitors to the park every year. As she notes, poor judgment is not exactly new to the area.

In 1849, Death Valley got its name when a wagon train from the east tried to find a shorter route to California, and got lost.

"Somebody had a map, and somebody said, this is a faster way to get to the gold fields," [Death Valley ranger Charlie] Callagan says. "Deep down back in the brain, the common sense says, you know, this is not the wisest thing."

You can listen to Clark's story here:

The GPS, A Fatally Misleading Travel Companion 

So today's survival tip is this: If you're traveling off road, have a paper map for backup.

--Paul Rauber

--Photo by Krissy Clark

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