Most of the Death Valley floor is either a hard salt and sand mix with a variety of scrubby creosote bush, desert holly, and salt grass. In this area and in one other, the sand has been trapped by the wind currents and has developed into shifting dunes.
I found my trekking poles came in handy, but were not really necessary. The top few inches of sand were soft and loose, below that I could feel a hard base.
I now have a tactile understanding of why camels have big feet.
When I got to the top I was quite warmed up and took off my windbreaker. It was quite a distance. Everything is farther away or bigger than it seems.
There were many footprints along the ridges and on the sides of the dunes closest to the parking area giving evidence to the many people who have walked there recently. I don't know how much of a wind it takes to erase them.
I'm glad we were able to experience the dunes, knowing the damage we did was temporary. Our tracks will be blown away.
The park information indicated the dunes extend about two miles, getting smaller as they go. This was taken from the top of one of the largest dunes. It was neat to see the sand mostly unmarred.
We had two other small adventures Wednesday, but I will leave those for the next post.
Weather report: First week of January 2013, Death Valley National Park. Overnight temps in high 30's. No worry about freezing water hose or pipes. Afternoon temperatures very comfortable in the mid to high 60's. Sunny. Great for hiking!
For more great pictures of Death Valley, check out Carol K's blog.
She and Dave were here at the same time.