Archive for March, 2012

Sand Sloggin’

Posted in Day Hiking on March 13, 2012 by moosetracksca

Death Valley is best served, well, with a cooler of cold beer. So, when my good buddy Tom wanted to spend his birthday weekend out there, I loaded up the TOF with enough turkey burgers and brewskis to feed a small army. Camped at Texas Springs, we hiked up Corkscrew and drive Titus Canyon on Saturday with Tom’s wife, our friend Erin, even Jimbo and Ruth joined the foray. The uncontrollable laughter around the campfire that night was a great way to celebrate Tom’s, um… 40-something years.

After a little leg stretch above Zabriskie Point on Sunday morning, I opted for the long way home, following the mostly dirt, mostly straight road through the north end of the park to Crankshaft Junction, then turned west to cross into the Eureka Valley. Braking hard, I almost missed the turnoff to the dunes as I shook myself out of the desert daze induced by the hum of the road.

In the distance, the dunes were paintbrushed cream against the dark ribbons of rock outlined in the cliff faces beyond. A cloud of dust swept west across the ancient dry lake bed, the tents in the area straining against guy lines and snapping in the gale. I could see a few dark figures part way up the dunes, but wanted to experience them for myself. Within minutes, my legs were numb to the sting of the driven sands.

I walked on, actually surprised to be walking, not sinking, the sand firm beneath me. Ribbons of texture, perpendicular to the wind, extended upslope, and I could see the spin launching from the tops of the dunes above. On the leeward slopes, I kicked steps, searching for the bottom purchase, my legs pursuing the familiar work. I tasted sand in my mouth, grit on my lips as I leaned into the wind. I balanced on knife-edges to cross between dunes, dulling the honed blades to serrations, only to see my steps filling in and fading within minutes. Windward slopes remained more firm, the texture holding all the colors of the eastern cliffs. Above loomed the “high point”, a wave of spin pouring over the edge. On top, I was mesmerized to watch the air dance against the sand, swirling in a bowl before sweeping up and escaping above the dune.

I laughed out loud all the way down.

Corkscrew Pics:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics621/sets/72157629204667898/

Zabriskie Point/Eureka Dunes: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics621/sets/72157629571475255/

From the luckiest girl in the world:
Climb Hard, Be Safe.

-L 😎

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