Give me oxygen
"Wow, I've only been to Death Valley in January," I said. "I should head out there just to see what it's like."
"Are you going that direction?" he asked.
"No, I'm here to get a permit for Mount Whitney," I said. "I'm hiking there tomorrow."
"In one day?"
"Have you heard of that race where people run from the bottom of Death Valley to the top of Mount Whitney in a day?" he asked.
I laughed. "You mean Badwater?" I found it humorous that this random motorcyclist had heard of this esoteric 135-mile ultramarathon. "Yeah, I've heard of it. That's too hellish for my taste. I'm only interested in the last 11 miles on trail, which I get to climb tomorrow. I'm excited."
"I wouldn't even want to do that," he said. "It's cold in the mountains. I'm all for the desert, love the heat, even when it's 120. But a couple years ago I was driving through when those Badwater people were running. And I just thought, damn. Yeah, that's what I thought. Damn."
"Perhaps he's drinking out of the streams," I said. "They do that in Europe."
The older gentleman just shook his head. "I can't believe how far up the trail he made it. I'm worried about him." A few miles later, I crossed paths with the European man, who I think might have been German. He was indeed shirtless, deeply tanned, not carrying a single bottle or backpack, and looked as happy as can be.
"Hallo," he said after I greeted him. "Is very nice, beautiful here."