Todd Carmichael is one of these adventurers as the CEO of a high end coffee supplier serving 28 states with more than $20,000,000 a year in sales, one can say that he both needs and doesn’t need an adventure. Yet last September he became the first person to walk alone across the desert land of Death Valley. Pulling a balloon tired red wagon holding four 50 gallon drums of water and a total of 450 pounds of supplies Todd headed off on his desert challenge.
On the first day of his adventure Todd ran into what for most of us would be the signal to turn back and quick the attempt. That obstacle came in the form of a 45° downhill slope. Not being able to physically brake the dissent of his wagon he was forced to offload all of his gear and carry each piece individually down the hill. This first step in his journey took Todd 12 hours. So for his effort he had managed to cover on his first day only 300 yards of a 160 mile trek. Walking at night and sleeping by day to avoid the devastating impact of death valley’s 118° heat Todd manage to cover 90 miles in his first 10 days.
His specially designed wagon with fully rotating flexible axles and almost a lunar module like appearance worked well to counter the debris along his path. Those same sticks, stones and sharp needles continually punctured his tires forcing him to patch and walk, patch and walk.
Even when at 3:30 AM Carmichael strayed from his course by making a wrong turn and found himself lost in the darkness in the middle of the desert he felt at ease with the task he had set for himself. It was as if he had chosen this ordeal so as to almost remove himself from his 9 to 5 existence. Perhaps 80 to 100 years ago Todd would have found himself crossing a Yukon mountain pass so as to pan for gold along the Yukon River. But adventure such as that might have proven to tame for the likes of Carmichael who is part of a unique group of elite trekkers who purposefully seek out unusual challenges far beyond those taken on any beaten path.
Todd has had to cross parts of the Sahara and is the first American to walk solo to the South Pole. He had intended to ski to the poll but his skis broke and he was forced to continue on foot.
The most avid diehard trekkers in the world regard death valley as an impossible passage. The mountain’s surrounding the valley create an oven like effect and to this point no one has ever successfully completed the trip. Even Carmichael himself had failed in his earlier attempt to cross Death Valley. After 10 days and nights and 90 miles to the tires on Todd Carmichael’s little red wagon it could no longer be patched and repaired and once again he was forced to abandon his quest. He walked a direct route out of the desert and into civilization. In a scene straight out of Lawrence of Arabia he found himself at a resort bar tattered and torn, scraggly and scruffy ordering up a cool lemonade.
Todd quickly regained his composure and with a shower and a few hours’ rest behind him shared his experiences. As he had failed again to cross the desert plain of Death Valley, but come next June he will try again.