Category: Summits & Outdoor Fun


-Ali Alizadeh

I escaped from the city
barefooted. I escaped from the fires

naked, except for the bag
of ancient books

slung over my back.
I ran into the desert. The horsemen

chased. Their torches
had coloured the tenements.

I ran for months. Finally
on a glorious night

I stopped. The raiders had given up
on me. I was alone

with the moon and the sand-dunes.
I looked down at my feet.

They were skinned.
I looked at my trace: red footprints

dark on the glowing plain.
I thought about my tribe

butchered as sacrificial beasts.
I remembered their smiles

before the flames. On the holy night
I knelt before the moon

and wept. In the desert
tears are elixir. From their pool

a fountain bubbled. I cleaned my scars
in the water. The books

weighed on my body. I took them out
and one by one

dipped them into the spring.
All knowledge, all art, and all history

drowned before my eyes. Freed
from the clutch of paper

words’ ink dissolved in the lake.
I then drank. I was saved.

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.