Death Valley 2007

Entering the park, we check in at the Stovepipe Wells ranger station. We are at sea level, but no sea to be found.

We quickly come across one of the sets of sand dunes within the park. Technically any place that gets less than 10 inches of rain per year is considered a desert ( Death Vally gets 1.5 inches per year ), but many of the deserts out in Southern California don't look like the deserts that you see in the movies. In some places, this one does. The dunes look like something out of the Sahara Desert in Africa. My friend Ben gets ready to head out across the dunes.

And here I am, ready to explore. I even have the proper hat.

Sidewinder tracks!

But no snake... it's probably for the best.

But even without critters, the patterns in the sand are pretty neat.

Much of the park is mountains, with very little vegitation, but many colors of soil and rock.

I did get to see a Chuckwalla. This guy was probably 6-8 inches long. Supposedly they run from predators, climb up into a crevice and inhale a whole bunch of air. This puffs them up to fill the crevice and hold them in place while they hang out until the predator leaves.

And finally we went to Badwater, the lowest point in the United States, at 282 feet below sea level.

And we ran into a cool girl from Maine that is traveling the country, visiting a whole bunch of the national parks. And of course she had her traveling partner, Mr. Peeps, who is the star of many of her photos.

The salt flat at Badwater is huge and streches for quite a ways. We found one spot where the salt had been broken up and it looked like it was at least a couple of inches thick. And yes, I did taste it. Like you would expect, it tastes like salt.

They way the salt crystalized creates some pretty cool patterns.

And we met a dog that had abviously been sniffing around the salt flats. The nose gave him away.

The sunsets were pretty fantastic as well.

And farther south we came across a set of charcoal kilns that were built around the time of the gold rush. They were repaired a number of years ago and are in excelent condition. Best of all, the insides are just the right shape to make really cool echoes. I spent way too much time inside them making weird noises.

And the next day we hiked up to the top of Wild Rose peak with gave a great view of a good portion of the park. It is the second highest peak in the park. Telescope Peak takes the honor of being the highest.

At the summit, somone had left an ammunition case filled with a couple of pencils and scraps of paper for names and dates of fellow hikers that had climbed the mountain. There were even some poems and artwork. My favorite was a girl who claimed to be "avoiding the real world, on national park at a time".

And there were even small patches of snow left.

And that's it for this adventure...

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