death valley, day 2

I recorded audio for this last night. But I was up to writing again this morning. Go figure. In any case, here I focus on what is probably the most popular photo attraction at Death Valley, Zabriskie Point. It’s so popular, really, that I found more enjoyment (and amazement at the landscape) in editing the photos later than I did when at the site. The reason: Too many people around with tripods and fancy equipment.

Some folks were likely doing time-lapse photography and video at this, the park’s most famous site, what I called a “screen saver shot” locale. And I could keep my distance. Still, all those folks (maybe 30-40 around at the top of a hill) were making me nervous, so I scrammed after too long. I told some women nearby when I was taking the shot at right, below, that I had more shots than one would have of a newborn, so I was probably good to go. Everyone laughed, and I took off.

The location: Sidewinder Canyon, a not-so-heavily-trafficked site (only me out there around 8-10 on a Friday morning) about 15-20 minutes south of Badwater Basin and an hour from the main visitors center and resort area at Furnace Creek. Some “Star Wars” productions were filmed at Death Valley, and some of my shots from here looked especially Star Wars-ey to me.

What I will always associate with the canyon is, however, its absolute silence that a.m. When I stopped hiking, I heard nothing—no ambient hum, no birds, insect noises, nothing. I’ve never experienced anything like that, and I grew up in a rural area. I mean, out here, the info or influencer age means nothing. I could have screamed “CAN I READ SOME OF THE PRESIDENT’S TWEETS TO YOU? DO YOU WANT TO HEAR ABOUT LAWSUITS INVOLVING THE ELECTION?” and no one would have been around to hear it, not even non-human critters, apparently (although I saw what appeared to be rabbit poop around, which likely meant that coyotes were hiding away nearby). I briefly heard the sounds of military aircraft, which I know use the western end of the park for training. Sounds may have bounced off canyon or eastern mountains. Otherwise, I heard only silence.

I spent about two hours climbing uphill and exploring slot canyons here, then took off. And took a selfie beforehand, as shown here. Very mostly-doomed-crew-of-“Alien” kind of thing to do, I know.