From the depths of Death Valley, Daniel Arnold set out to reach Mount Whitney in a way no road or trail could take him. Anything manmade or designed to make travel easy was out. With a backpack full of water bottles, and the remotest corners of desert before him, he began his toughest test yet of physical and mental endurance.
Badwater Basin sits 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley, the lowest and hottest place in the Western Hemisphere. Mount Whitney rises 14,505 feet above sea level, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Arnold spent seventeen days traveling a roundabout route from one to the other, traversing salt flats, scaling dunes, and sinking into slot canyons. Aside from bighorn sheep and a phantom mountain lion, his only companions were ghosts of the dreamers and misfits who first daredinto this unknown territory. He walked in the footsteps of William Manly, who rescued the last of the forty-niners from the bottom of Death Valley; tracked John LeMoigne, a prospector who died in the sand with his burros; and relived the tales of Mary Austin, who learned the secret trails of the Shoshone Indians. This is their story too, as