Saturday, May 4, 2013

Death Valley's Fury

While in Death Valley we camped for two weeks in Stovepipe Wells to be near the sand dunes.
Each morning I would get up at 5 a.m. to get my coffee and be parked near the dunes around 6 a.m. One of the last mornings at the dunes I had decided to take a long walk across the Devil's Cornfield and visit a new group of dunes in an area that is rarely visited. I started my hike in under darkness and got to the first set of dunes just as the first traces of light came into the sky. It was a quiet morning as I walked into a group of nice size dunes, and could see that no one had been in the area recently. I assembled my equipment and composed an area I knew would look nice when the first shaft of sunlight would hit the dunes. I started to notice a slight breeze as the sun was coming up and almost without warning a storm force wind blew in and I quickly made one or two exposures. I realized this wasn't good for me or my equipment and started packing up as quickly as possible to get out.  The sand was blowing into my eyes as I struggled with my equipment. I turned to find my direction out of the dunes and realized I couldn't see much of anything.  I determined my direction of travel was directly into the strong winds. I pulled my hat down over my entire face and held onto it with one hand while my other hand covered my nose and mouth. The only reference I had to find my way back to the road was the sunlight at my feet. I knew that I had come in from the east and I just started walking in the direction of the rising sun while looking straight down. The wind was very strong and it was three steps forward and two back while trying to navigate in the deep sand of the dunes. It seemed like an endless hike back to the highway and my car. Finally my feet found the blacktop and I had to guess in which direction my car was. I started down the road and luckily came to my car within a mile or so. The storm continued blow at gale force winds for two day and kept us holed up in our RV.  What started out as just another simple hike into the dunes at sunrise soon became a life threatening event. Death Valley got its name for a very good reason. It is a land that can very gentle and then at the next moment can turn deadly.


  1. Wow! That must have been pretty frightening. I'm sure glad you got the shot! Grace (in Tucson)

  2. I have manage to put myself in some foolish situations doing photography over the years. This is one I rather not repeat, but glad I was able to make the picture.