Death Valley is a land of distance. You look out and all you see is the same thing for miles and miles - or what looks to be the same endless desert, but in reality it is very different. At first I thought I would have had my fill of sand and low red mountains within about an hour, but each area they recommended you to see had some sort of interesting distinction. It became a bit of a game - I wonder what is going to make this place special?
There was Ubehe Crater formed from molten lave warming the water in the earth to steam until the pressure grew to great and exploded to create this massive depression. There is salt canyon that has the smallest trickle of a stream running through it - but that is enough to bring green life. It is also supposed to be a place where the endangered pupfish live (practically prehistoric). I went to seek out these creatures only to find in the winter they hide deep down in the water away from the cold surface - so no luck there.
There is an interpretive walk through Golden Canyon (although I saw no signs of interpretation except an empty trail guide box). This area was the highlight for me.
You see what started as a lovely walk with rock walls rising on either side of you, became a bit of a rock climbing (I use that word loosely) expedition. I saw this little trail leading off from the main route, so I decided to follow it. As I went on, the trail became steeper and steeper until soon it was scrambling up a rock face looking for handholds and always trying to maintain 3-point contact (ie - at least 3 of my limbs had to have a sure grip before moving on). Going up was easy - but coming down! DIfferent story completely. It probably didn't help that I decided to follow a new trail down so I didn't know what was coming, but it was scary!! At the moment I was cursing myself for having gotten into this mess, thinking that perhaps my adventurous nature got the best of me this time and I would slip knock myself out and no one would ever know..... but anyway - I was fine! My forearms and palms were filled with a multitude of minute scratches, but besides that - totally unscathed!
There is something wrong with my internet connection - so I will just post this as Part 1 - no pictures. More to come!