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.
“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
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.)
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.
In our late-winter world – that has been alternately grey, then white, then grey again – there was comfort at the neighborhood cafe. Huddled with Cathy and Anne over soup and wedges of quiche nestled into mounds of tender greens. Thick slices of bread smothered in butter and jam. Mimosas to wash away the gloom. Laughter guarding against the damp.
We looked toward the window, and it was on with the jackets, the hats, the gloves.
At the Volunteer Park Conservatory, we plunged headlong into a world of green, gulping in its color deeply.
Could there be a better sight? Could there be anything better sitting fresh, there to renew your wearied soul?
Room after room of growth to awaken days and spirit alike. Paradise.