Death Valley (part three)

At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America. The pool contains less than an inch of water and is covered with a layer of salt that rises above the basin floor in a multitude of hexagon patterns. The repeated cycles of freeze/thaw creates the hexagon shapes.

The water is, like the name states, unacceptable to drink, and during most times of the year when the basin is low, visitors are able to walk on the surface, often leaving deep footprints in the salt. My friends and I walked beside the salt flats where the basin meets the dirt of the desert in order to minimize the impact of footprints through the middle of the delicate honeycomb shapes.

Badwater in Death Valley, California

Death Valley Badwater Salt Crystals

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Death Valley (part two)

Hoping to find a perfect place for a morning sunrise, we left camp for the Mesquite Flat sand dunes around 4am. Hiking through deep sand is difficult enough during the day time, but struggling to see where you’re going makes it seem very “two steps forward, one step back.” Luckily, night-time made for a pleasant hike before the afternoon heat took over.

When the winds pick up, these dunes are one of several across the world that experience the singing dunes described in the video below. It was perfectly still on the morning we visited, so unfortunately we didn’t experience any songs, but I did manage to capture some great photos.

Mesquite Flat sand dunes in Death Valley

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Death Valley (part one)

This past week I spent 5 days hiking and trekking through Death Valley National Park. Despite temperatures that ranged from the low 90s during the day and the low 20s at night, I had a great time seeing a part of the country that I had yet to experience. My favorite part of the park was the Racetrack Playa, a dry lake bed covered with sailing stones.

When the lake bed receives rains that cover just enough of the playa’s clay surface to make it slick, strong winds upwards of 90 mph push the rocks across the desert floor, leaving trails behind them. Some of the heavier rocks with rough bottoms leave a very deep trail that makes the Racetrack a photographer’s playground.

A path behind a sailing stone on Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park

Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park at night.

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