Death Valley Whirled To Zion: Day 4 Hello Wind
The wind is already blowing harder in the morning than it was last night has predicted it certainly increased overnight. It is still dark out has I prepare to get going, grabbing my gear and locking in my gps coordinates just in case I lose visibility in any potential blowing sand. They call this place Death Valley for a reason is something I remind myself while questioning whether or not I should use my gps during the day on such a straightforward hike but it is really windy and if it gets bad there might not be visibility. Hiking across the desert before the sun comes up has its own sense of adventure though in a wind storm it adds to the feeling of unique experiences in life.
The hike across the desert in the dark doesn’t take long before arriving to the dunes and I start to head to a spot for my first composition of the morning. I’m going to have to factor in the wind, the sand is becoming whipped up with the gusts not only does it get in your face but it is not the best friend to your camera gear either. Taking the blowing sand into equation and deciding to try to find other places where there is some protection from the elements amongst the dips and bends of the dunes. Then the focus can be on taking images without worrying about the sand getting into the gear or my face.
The peak that had sand being swept off the top is experiencing the same event this morning as last night, this is where the intent is in my first efforts. Eventually the sun comes up enough over the mountains behind the dunes and starts to cast its light on the peak creating an interesting set of shadows and color tone to the sand.
Noticing a few other areas where the blowing sand creates unique effects has the wind whips across the dunes. There are a few nice compositions and I spend some time taking additional images.
The wind seems to only be picking up more and the blowing sand is becoming increasingly difficult to deal with. The weather is only suppose to decline has the day goes on so I decide to not spend much time here as it is still unknown when the rain is coming and there is a water crossing on the road you have to drive through so I make the decision to head back to the car. Feeling almost like something out of Star Wars while bundling up to protect myself from the particles of blowing debris. Really having enjoyed this area I’m happy with some of the images that were captured here along with the time spent exploring and taking in the surroundings.
Back on the main road and making a pit stop at a really small town called Shoshone for a coffee, side note the gas prices are really really high here, like $5 a gallon. From here next is to drive some stretches of the park I have not seen yet and head in from the east end of Badwater road. This stretch turns out to be an amazingly beautiful area that is now on the list to return to. Having enjoyed driving this particular stretch so much I can put myself there right now visually and feel a change to my senses while writing this. There is some regret for not pulling over to appreciate more of what this area offers but at the same time it is those feelings that will make me come back to this area of the park again. Eventually turning off to another backcountry road that was in the plans to scout out, this turns out to be a potential mistake as it takes more time than wanted and it wasn’t has exciting has anticipated but either way I’m glad I took the drive.
Eventually making it to the main part of the park the wind doesn’t seem to bad here yet. I’m starving and decide to make a drive to a spot that overlooks Mesquite Dunes once there the wind still appears not so bad. Quickly grabbing my stove and things to start cooking, hooking up the gas and turning my back to grab water to boil and wham just like that there is the 50 mph plus gusts they predicted. The rear hatch and drivers side door is open I can see the drivers side door not liking the wind and quickly shut it but not before the interior is blasted with sand that came like a wall with freight train like intensity from the wind. Grabbing the stove and getting everything including myself quickly back into the car. Out in front of the overlook where you could once see the valley floor the dunes and the town of Mesquite Springs you just see a towering wall of dirt has gusts of wind whip across the valley and the sky grows darker with clouds there is a few rain drops but not much comes down. It looks like this might be it for the Death Valley portion, waiting it out a little and the conditions start to fade after the initial burst but visibility is gone and just blowing dust is all you see, off to Zion I go.
Having mixed feelings about leaving Death Valley National Park there was still some things on my list I really wanted to get to and really was loving my time here but with that type of wind, photography in Death Valley is next to impossible and camping not very fun either. At the same time there is a developing fondness for Zion National Park within me after first being there last fall and start changing my focus to what awaits there.
It takes about 4.5 hours to make it from Death Valley to Zion National Park, it will be dark when I get there but that is alright I’m enjoying the views of the drive and feeling of the open road. There is a Walmart on the way in Hurricane, Utah (funny name for a place not near the ocean) and duck in for a cheap fleece blanket for a little extra layer has the nights will be much colder in Zion. Eventually making it to the park and finding a campsite as I eat and set the car up for the night looking ahead there is a good feeling thinking forward to the next day.