I cannot even begin to describe the feeling I had while driving to Death Valley. Again. The day was finally here and this time NO ONE was sick or getting sick. I made sure of that the previous night by eating a very light meal. I felt like a child going to the candy store, except my candy store was nature.
We drove in from the south-west side of the Valley this time, coming in from one of the high peaks with a spectacular view point called Father Crowley Point. We blasted Ace of Base on the speakers (I know, I know you are probably thinking to yourself 'this couple is a bit out dated yet SO amazingly cool'). As we loudly sang "living in a happy nation..." we made our way down below sea level and towards our campsite. We managed to grab the last available spot with a phenomenal view of the sand dunes and the miniature town within the Valley called Stovepipe Wells.
After we set up we made our way to our first stop; Artist Drive overlooking Artist Palette. The drive is a one way switch back road looping into the colourful volcanic rock formation. The best part was parking our car and walking through these bright and mesmerizing pastel coloured peaks. At the end of the artist drive the sun was beginning to set, so we made our way down to the Bad Water Basin salt flats; the lowest point in North America. With an elevation of 86m below sea level, rainfall that collects in the basin (like a lake) slowly dries out due to the high temperatures and forms a salt flat. Nature is incredible in the way she works. A lake in any other other place is just a lake, but in dry and harsh temporal environments creates a beautiful salt flat.
As we made our way back to our campsite it began to rain. We were so bummed because Death Valley is known as one of the darkest points on earth and a must to experience it at night. We sadly retreated into our tent and called it an early night due to the weather.
In the morning we rose bright and early and luckily the rain had stopped. We headed straight for the Mesquite Sand Dunes. Unlike the dunes in White Sands New Mexico, the Mesquite Dunes were thinner in consistency and darker in colour. We patiently climbed several dunes until we reached the highest dune overlooking Death Valley. I cannot begin to describe the view. It felt like I was on a different planet, in which I had climbed a dune that transported me to the moon. We spent a while up at the top staring out in amazement.
After our nature shock we enjoyed sliding down the dunes and making our way back to the car and off to Zabrinske's Point. The point is known due to its beautiful erosional landscape. Sediments from the surrounding Furnace Creek Lake dried up to create the spectacular peaks. We decided, instead of being just like every tour bus that was pulling up to the view point and just snapping pictures, to hike through Zabrinske Point. It was three in the afternoon and the sun was beaming down on us, as we walked over dried mud and watched out for shady nooks with possible rattle snakes. As we finished our water supply which we had packed, we realized that it was silly to continue, and so we decided to take a shortcut through the peaks. After a little rock climbing here and there we made it to our car.
Next up was Dante's View (which I accidentally always called Dante's Peak due to the 90s movie where Pierce Bronson saved everyone from the erupting volcano). Luckily, there were no erupting volcanoes but instead a panoramic view of the vastness that is Death Valley. With an overload of natural beauty our stomaches where rumbling and we headed to the second mini village in the Valley for some hamburgers. As we ate we noticed clouds starting to collect once again and we hoped that they where just passing by. To our dismay, as we made it to our campsite after dinner we could only see a little small opening of stars trying to shine through the clouded sky. Disappointed for the second night around, we knew that we would have to make another trip back here some day.
In the morning we packed our things and waved goodbye to one of the most magical places I had ever visited.