Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Riders on the Storm

Date: March 8, 2013
Place: Death Valley National Park, California

Out in Nature, away from the shelter of home, one gets to experience its force in full. In Death Valley it is most commonly the force of extreme heat. But sometimes the desert flips and shows its thunderous side. And when it does, it is no less extreme ...
This is not a hiking post, just photographs taken on that stormy day on March, after our visit to Ubehebe Crater.
On Scotty's Castle Road, due south. 
The rain itself wasn't all that intense. Not in the valley below, were we were. On the surrounding mountain ranges though, it was a different thing.
Panamint Range donning white, view from Scotty's Castle Road. 
We reached Hwy 190 and continued driving south toward Furnace Creek. For some time, the hills to the east were completely invisible.

It is well known that prime desert hazards are heat stroke and dehydration. Flash floods, however, is a prime cause of fatalities as well. Better not get trapped in a canyon when the mountains above are getting a soak.

Most flash flood fatalities, however, occur in vehicles. It is easy to underestimate the power of running water. Having grown up in the desert myself, I've seen it too: upside down cars, even large trucks, stuck in the mud because their drivers thought they could cross the flowing wash.
This Jeep crossed just fine, no fatalities here:-) 
The storm didn't last very long. about two hours, maybe. The clouds still hung over the mountains, but late afternoon sun found its way to the lower slopes.

The contrast could not be any sharper: the Mustard Hills, bright yellow in the late afternoon sun, under the looming snowy and dark Winters Peak. My friend and I stood there at Harmony Borax Works and photographed this inspiring view again and again until the sun had hid itself again and both landmarks fell under the shadow.
Mustard Hills (in front) and Winters Peak.  
But it wasn't just eastward that I pointed my camera too. The low setting sun is particularly good in bringing out the contours of the mountain slopes.
Telescope Peak (or Wildrose Peak?) view from Harmony Borax Works.
The sun was setting fast. After some wandering about in the Mustard Hills we got back into the car and drove to Death Valley Junction, where we would spend that night, getting ready for the big hike we planned for the morrow.
Evening sky in Death Valley, March 8, 2013


  1. awsome... :-)
    you just need to add the song to your post.
    it was an amazing day (as was each day in our trip)

    1. Yeah ... well ... The Doors were never my cup of tea really, but I thought the name would have a nice ring to it :-) Thank you!

  2. Wonderful pictures!

    On the same day I was at the desert as well, but it was much drier... (Eilat)

    1. Many thanks! Yes, dry is what youy would expect a desert to be, and most of the time it meets that expectation. That day we were surprised :-)

  3. WOW, what a sight!
    It seems like the right season to visit there.


    1. It's very unpredictable, Ofer. I've been there twice before at exactly the same time of year and it was hot and clear and everything was blooming. That's why I invited Anenet to visit in March. The desert didn't go along with my planning, though :-)