Snowshoes Provide Edge for Desert-to-Peak Trek

Two Antelope Valley men have succeeded in a pioneering attempt to cross Death Valley's blazing hot salt bogs in snowshoes during a trek from the lowest point in the contiguous United States to the highest.

Outdoorsmen Lee Bergthold and Jerry Freeman used snowshoes to cross the eight miles of salt bogs during a grueling 14-day hike from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, said Chief Ranger Dale Antonich of the Death Valley National Monument. U.S. Forest Service rangers said Friday they will now use snowshoes for rescues in the Death Valley salt bogs that have a thin crust above quicksand-like salt brine.

Bergthold, 54, a survival instructor at Antelope Valley College, and Freeman, 47, a self-employed businessman in Pear Blossom, were hit with extreme heat and cold, dehydration, minor injuries and a blizzard on the 125-mile trek.

Others have made the Death Valley-Mt. Whitney hike, but Bergthold and Freeman wanted to be the first trekkers to cross the salt bogs. They believed snowshoes would allow them to slide across the delicate surface without breaking through; they were right.

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