I came to Death Valley expecting flat desert and bouncing tumbleweeds, with perhaps an ox skull or two scattered over the blazing sands. Instead I got rains and billowing clouds, and found myself nestled in a valley of stark, brilliant colors.
The lack of flora and vegetation should make for a bleak landscape – but without that green cover, the real magic of Death Valley comes to life.
These mountains are all made from seismic activity through ancient times, and the multi-colored layers of different volcanic rock and sediment are stunning, all the more so because there’s nothing living competing for attention.
In learning about the continuing constant shifting of the fault line the Valley sits in, in seeing the massive movements of earth just a day of rain can bring, and in walking about and exploring all the canyon trails by walking in the soft sandy floor of the washes, I can’t understand why this place is named Death Valley.
It’s such an alive valley, where the hillscape and flats are shifting and colors changing continuously, be it from sun or rain, winds or plate shifts, and in ways we human can and cannot see in our short time here. In fact with the flora and fauna layer peeled away, I felt the mountains, the alluvial fans, and mud flats were exposed in their raw form and could be seen breathing with a life and rhythm of its own.
It’s a vast park, and the rains meant a ton of road closures so the more isolated off-road siteS were off limits. But even so, the sheer size of the valley was daunting, and is humanfolk were dwarfed in the folds of the canyons and the dips of the sand dunes. The desolate beauty lies in part in the greatness of scale, but if the colors bring this Valley to life, – you find that in scenes big and small. Even just looking down it seems you’ve been trapped inside your feet it a kaleidoscope.
But enough of my idle chatter, the views speak more eloquently than I.
Four down, 46 left!