Southwest Exploration—USnomads: FEB 2020 — part8


SOUTHWEST EXPLORATION: Day 8 — DEATH VALLEY


Mesquite Springs, Death Valley, CA — 16 February 2020: Caught the sunrise this morning but it wasn’t spectacular due to the cloud cover …

Mesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley, CA — 16 February 2020: The sky was overcast in the morning, but we headed down to the Mesquite Sand Dunes to check them out anyway. It was already crowded when we got there, though we were able to find a parking spot at least. I told Niki to go ahead at her own pace because I would be too slow to walk that far in the dunes and I didn’t want her to miss the experience. I would go my own way at my own pace. She went off walking briskly and made it all the way to the biggest dune. There were a lot of people out there walking towards the biggest dunes, so I went a different direction to get away from the crowds. I went into the smaller dunes–what we called the “shitty dunes” in the rally, because of the camel grass and tight mounds of sand around their roots. But I was on foot and it was not a problem as it would be to drive through. And I walked slowly wandering where the sand was firmer or the incline less steep. I was picking my line the same way I would do in a Jeep. And stopping to photograph the gnarly roots and dried branches on top of the mounds of sand. They looked both dead and alive. Once I got away from where there were the most people I took off my shoes and socks and continued walking barefoot in the sand until I found a small dune that had not been over run and where there were no footprints. I went and sat at the top, laying down in the sand to do some skying. I could hear the voice of a woman several dunes away who was doing some kind of yoga exercise or rehearsing or making a video — she kept saying “smile” and lifting her arms towards the sky. I focused on the sand and its essence, communing with it in my own way before starting back to the rendezvous point to meet up with Niki on time. It was a good wander for both of us …

20 Mule Team Canyon, Death Valley, CA — 16 February 2020: After spending the morning at the dunes then we went out to 20 Mule Canyon towards the end of the afternoon, when the light was perfect over the badlands. We stopped just inside the canyon to explore a little bit, walking into the badlands, following the folds of the earth …

20 Mule Team Canyon, Death Valley, CA — 16 February 2020: The drive itself is a short loop through the landscape, and I knew from experience where to stop at the crest of the overview looking into the layers of badlands beyond. We pulled over and went out to explore and Niki decided to climb up the top of the ridge. As she went up I saw that it looked solid enough and imagining the incredible view from that height I made my way up once she was back down, surprising myself about how far up I could go. And of course the views WERE worth the climb …

Mesquite Springs, Death Valley, CA — 16 February 2020: We were back at camp in time to watch the sunset over the wash, even if it was a bit underwhelming because of the clouds. The “after-sunset” was beautiful as the clouds turned pink. Then we got our fire going and made dinner, and Niki got creative with night photography, making a really nice portrait of me with the campfire reflecting in my glasses, and even capturing the stars in the night sky …