DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, CA ::
After exploring the Racetrack
, I drove in pitch darkness to Eureka Dunes and camped there overnight. I was a little spooked out by being in an unfamiliar place, not knowing what creepy critters lingered in the shadows of my small flashlight and in the blackness beyond the beam. So rather than pitching my tent outside, I slept in the back of the Escalade, comforted by the dome light and the satellite radio.
When dawn broke, I finally saw the mountain of sand dunes towering nearly 700 feet high before me. They're supposedly the tallest in the United States. I've always been impressed by images of these sinuous landscapes and of people walking along their pristine surfaces and sharp, crescent ridges. Until I can book a trip to the Sahara, this experience will have to do.
As I expected, it was neat wandering atop the huge dunes, watching the early light sculpt cool, curvy shadows among hills. Trudging up the steep, ever-slipping sand was not so neat, however. It was extremely exhausting. Imagine climbing the height of the Space Needle along a 30 degree incline of loose sand. I was nearly crawling on all fours, and each step forward included half a step sinking back. The sand also poured into my shoes and locked my feet as if they were cast in concrete. I had to empty them a few times during my hike to relieve the pain.
It was tough, but definitely worth it. And sliding back down the dunes was fun! Unfortunately, I seem to have lost a CF card containing the second half of this hike and the other stops in Death Valley. I think some of the better images were on that card... Oh well, another excuse to go back. Kristie and I often joke that if it isn't on the website, then it didn't happen!
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