Kevin's Hiking Page    
     

Death Valley 2008 Trip

Day 4 of 5

Previous Day | Trip Home | Next Day


Monday, February 25th
Zabriskie Point, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

During breakfast, I saw 3 paragliders up in the sky. I'm not sure where they took off from or where they were planning to land. Looks like fun, but I'm sure I'm too scared of heights to ever do it.

Three paragliders

Tamarisk trees at Furnace Creek campground

After breakfast, I stopped at the Furnace Creek gas station to buy the most expensive gas I've ever purchased - $4.36 a gallon. Not that you have any choice but to buy it here. I also purchased some ice from here. There's an old wooden shack labeled "ICE" with a very old-looking partly rusted metal box in the corner next to two pay phones. Amazingly, the old ice machine has new technology grafted into it; it accepts dollar bills. Jean was skeptical, but I fed it two bills and got my ice.

We then made the short drive to Zabriskie Point, which is only about 5 miles from Furnace Creek. The drive is unremarkable in that it hardly seems to climb. And yet, when you arrive at Zabriskie Point you'll find yourself looking down at the valley. This is partly because the valley floor descends another 280 feet from sea level.

View from Zabriskie Point

Mountains of Golden Canyon and Red Cathedral from Zabriskie Point

Panamint Range from Zabriskie Point

Because of this misperception, I was completely surprised and delighted by Zabriskie Point. From here, we could look down toward the canyon that we had hiked the previous day. It was hidden from view by other hills, but we could see the same geography, as well as the side of Red Cathedral. In fact the trail up Golden Canyon has a fork which goes up to Zabriskie Point. It's actually not that far.

View from Zabriskie Point

View from Zabriskie Point

Mountains of Golden Canyon and Red Cathedral from Zabriskie Point

View from Zabriskie Point

After enjoying the views, we headed north on 190 past Furnace Creek and stopped just before Stovepipe Wells to hike the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.

After the hike, we drove to the Furnace Creek store for ice cream. We then drove back to the Furnace Creek campground. At the entrance station, I asked the ranger when sunrise would be the next day. 6:22am. Ouch! I was considering visiting Zabriskie Point at sunrise to take some photographs, but that would mean getting up around 5:45am. This is why I hardly have any sunrise pictures.

I would, however, definitely be heading there for sunset today. While the others napped, I drove back to Zabriskie Point before sunset. There was only one other person there with a tripod. Groups of tourists (many from Germany) came and went while I was there. I was looking forward to some late afternoon light on the hills below, but unfortunately it was not to be. The sun was already hidden behind some clouds low on the horizon.

Afternoon light at Zabriskie Point

Afternoon light on Red Cathedral

Still, there were enough clouds that I was hopeful of a colorful sunset. I waited and waited as it grew darker and darker. People turned as the last rays of light shined onto the mountains to the east of Zabriskie Point, across Highway 190. I waited as everyone left after the sun went down. I overheard one couple wondering out loud why I was still there; one of them suggested that I was hoping for colors to appear (which was completely true).

It got darker still and I decided that even if the colors did appear, there wouldn't be enough light left to make for an interesting picture. So I started packing away my tripod. I got halfway down the short hill to the parking lot as I noticed the sky starting to turn pink and red. I stopped and took some pictures of the hills below, toward Golden Canyon. Then as the colors intensified I scrambled back up to the top to take more pictures. It was still relatively dark and not the most spectacular sunset I've ever seen, but with the help of my graduated neutral density filter, the pictures turned out much better than I had expected.

Sunset at Zabriskie Point

Sunset at Zabriskie Point

Oh, and the couple I mentioned was still there, enjoying the sunset, even though I had already given up. About 90 percent of the people who came up to watch the sun set, however, had already left, missing the best part.

Sunset at Zabriskie Point

Sunset at Zabriskie Point

I returned to camp. We had two new neighbors. One of them was fine, but the other smoked and played music until midnight. Grr. And I had my alarm set for 5:45am.


Previous Day | Trip Home | Next Day




 Kevin's Hiking Page    
Copyright © 1995-2017 Kevin L. Gong