Category: Summits & Outdoor Fun

Devil’s Golf Course

Large halite salt crystal formations in Devil’s Golf Course are just the tip of salt/gravel beds that extend up to 9,000 feet below the surface. Unlike the valley floor at Badwater, this place remains dry, allowing weathering processes to sculpt the salt there into complicated, razor-sharp formations. 

Devil’s Golf Course should not be confused with an actual golf course in Furnace Creek, also in Death Valley.

Panamint Sunrise

“And yet day and night meet fleetingly at twilight and dawn,” he said, lowering his voice again and narrowing his eyes and moving his head a quarter of an inch closer to hers. “And their merging sometimes affords the beholder the most enchanted moments of all the twenty four hours. A sunrise or sunset can be ablaze with brilliance and arouse all the passion, all the yearning, in the soul of the beholder.”
Mary Balogh, A Summer to Remember

 

Crystal Power

At a distance Badwater Basin is a frothy ocean – a great white shining expanse. As you get closer, it starts to resemble snow. When you finally start walking on the flats, it is more like crunchy sand. That’s when you really realize that you’re walking on a 200 square-mile lake bed of salt.

Here, salt crystals expand, pushing a crust into rough, chaotic forms. Newly formed crystals ooze between mud cracks, sketching strange patterns on the surface of the salt flat. Passing rainstorms wash off windblown dust and generate a fresh layer of blinding white salt. Floods create temporary lakes that dissolve salts back into solution, starting the process all over again.

(Notice also the remnants of the previous day’s dust storm still lingering in the sky.)

Desert dust storm

It wasn’t what I expected or hoped for. I wanted five days of sunshine and renewal in the desert. Instead, I descended to Death Valley in a storm. The wind whipped my tent fly and pushed fine desert dust through the mesh walls. In minutes, clothing, skin, hair and sleeping bag were a gritty, matte grey-brown. 

I turned my gaze toward Furnace Creek. It wasn’t far to seek refuge. A cold beer in the bar would at least wash the sand from my mouth.

Slowly, one foot in front of the other, back turned to the wind, I made my way to the oasis. A quick glance upward to get my bearings. And this. The beauty in suffering. If only we take a moment to look for it.

Ski rodeo, Methow style

Olympians and future Olympians gathered yesterday for the annual ski rodeo in Winthrop, WA. The “U8” racers set the tone during the first (1k) race. The competition for podium spots would be fierce.

Meanwhile, up on the hills above town the Methow Valley Nordic team showed why this valley keeps turning out champion skiers. It was a long way back to the next skier.

We spotted an old friend Michael Karas giving his all in the 10k race.

Alas, he was no match for the Olympic lungs of local ski celebrity, Laura McCabe.