Thinking About Death Valley

Manly Beacon |  Death Valley Gallery

Manly Beacon | Death Valley Gallery

I have been normalizing my photos across the various online galleries and portfolios this past week. The organizational side of it is a little mundane, although I'm getting to revisit and enjoy some wonderful photos I've taken the last several years.

In November of last year, I did a 3-way whirlwind road trip through Death Valley. A highlight was sunrise at Zabreskie Point. Above is one of the photos I took that morning. I'd like to visit again. Some places I want to visit again, some things I want to do different.

I definitely want to return to Zabreskie Point for a sunrise ... hopefully with some clouds in the sky. Another place I want to revisit is the Artist's Palette and spend more time here. I rushed through in order to catch sunset down on the flats. Late afternoon isn't a bad time to be in the Artist's Palette. It's a canyon and loses light a before the actual sunset. I just want more time there.

Something I will do differently is to visit the Mesquite Dunes before dawn. I did a drive by in mid afternoon. By that time, the daily visitors have been up and down the dunes. Footprints everywhere. I hiked in a good 30 minutes into the dunes in a vain attempt to find pristine sand or a lone set of footprints fading into the distance. Just more dunes and zigzags of people-tracks. While I enjoyed the hike, I didn't come away with any keepers from Mesquite.

Then there's the Racetrack Playa. I have mixed emotions about it. It was an arduous drive in. I was in my own car. It has decent clearance, yet not the shocks of an off road jeep. From Furnace Creek, it took me 5 hours to get to the playa, the last 3 on unpaved, bumpy road that can shake the fillings out of your teeth.

Yet it is truly a sight to behold. The Grandstand at the north, tall and out of place, while also dwarfed by the surrounding mountains. The dry, cracked earth. The silence. I spent the night there. It was a clear night, a half moon all but negated the need for a flashlight. I captured some great star trails. And it got cold at night. Shivering cold. A good 50 degree (F) swing from day to night.

It was tough to find the "sailing stones". Sadly, I found more tire tracks than trails left by sliding rocks. I did find a few good stone trails at the south end of the playa. An unexpected thing was 2 full bars of signal on my iPhone at the south end. Yup ... I called home and said "Guess where I am?" And then a 5+ hour drive back to to "civilization". And another 8 hours home. That was a long day. I'm not sure I'll return to the playa on my next visit. If I do, I'm definitely renting a jeep.