Southwest Road Trip: Part II

April 7-18, 2010

PHOTOS AND STORY by Jason Hummel

Part II – Death Valley Dunes, 2 days

Deciding what to do next is always a challenge, especially when plans are shifting and evolving. This was why Kathy and I went to the Eureka Dunes in 2009 during our first Death Valley road trip. We let happenstance rule and fate direct. Nothing has changed this time around. Through the following two days we traveled the sands and explored the southern reaches of Death Valley National Park.

Not enough can be said about the fields of sand verbena or the dunes themselves. Words are poor reservoirs for explanation, but where they may lack, images do not. Between shifting colors and light, curving lines and swallowing shadows, a photograph salves the thirsty imagination. Throughout an afternoon of clouds rolling over in big blue skies and sights down long desert valleys, we began to feel at home, even as the light began to fade and darkness unsheathed the stars.

It had been painful to go to bed so early, so many hours into the night; I climbed up to the dunes from camp through pitch blackness. Over and around me, sand screamed across the slopes until it was swept out past sharp dune crests and deposited on the leeward sands below. While exciting, it was hardly good for the night photographs I’d hoped for. Nevertheless, I spent two hours trying. Moments passed while I enjoyed following a bat with my headlamp and watching meteors shoot through the sky.

By mid-morning the next day we are packed and hiking across the desert to the car. Most of the day thus far had been spent exploring a mine and watching the sunrise. Locked in the valley between massive mountains, the sunrise was late in coming, but the mine was a fun distraction. I’m always surprised how much litter I find at mines. There’s no excuse, but time and again I find in mining different rules apply than for everyone else. Out of mind, out of sight perhaps? Nevertheless, these thoughts scattered as I saw the shimmering windshield of Kathy’s car in the distance. Once there, a final look back at the dunes helped me realize this oddly alien place is so similar to the snowy environments I’m more familiar with. (continue)


More photos: see Alpine State OF Mind. Or CONTACT ME if you are interested in prints or licensing. If you enjoyed your visit, tell us about it on the GUESTBOOK.