Friday, April 12, 2013

THE Trip, THE Encore' :: Death Valley, Ubehebe Crater and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Copyright 2013, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

March 12, 2013

On the way back to Tana from Scotty's Castle we made one short but memorable side trip, to Ubbehebe Crater.  That is pronounced, U-bee hee-bee". The crater is only about 2,000 years old (an infant in geological time).  The crater is about 1/2 mile across and 600 feet deep.  If you are up to it, you may hike into and out of the crater.  The National Park Service tells you, "Walking to the bottom of the main crater is easy; however, the trip back up can be exhausting."  I cannot locate the source now, but, I believe I saw one review of this walk that said, the trip back up was "brutal".  Hint:  DO NOT forget your water!  In fact, take 2 bottles or more!

The crater was formed when intense steam pressure built causing super heated steam and rock to explode, sending shattered rock over a six square mile area in depths up to 150 feet.  Stop and contemplate that sentence, think about the forces that it took to fling rocks 6 miles in any direction and in sufficient numbers and quantity to make a pile 150 feet deep.  Boggles my mind, WOW!!

As we approached Ubehebe we began seeing hills that were almost black.  And, not much vegetation, as is the norm in Death Valley.

Yep, more black hills.  Always makes me pause, the difference light and angles make in the color, but, still not much vegetation.

The hiking trails around the edge of the crater.  There were a few brave souls hiking the rim and even down into the crater.

The panoramic, the only way for Sony Too to capture the entire crater.  The wind at the rim was very strong,  VERY strong!  I did not stand out there long, snapped a bunch of photos and could not wait to get back into Jolly.  I have no way of knowing for sure, but, I'll bet that wind was 30 to 45 MPH, I want to say more.

It was time to head back to Tana and camp at Stovepipe Wells, we were still about 50 miles or so from home.

Just a mile or so from Stovepipe Wells are the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.   According to Wikipedia, "these dunes have been used to film sand dune scenes for several movies including films in the Star Wars series. The largest dune is called Star Dune and is relatively stable and stationary because it is at a point where the various winds that shape the dunes converge. The depth of the sand at its crest is 130–140 feet..."

The dunes are quite pretty in the early morning and even early afternoon.  By late afternoon the setting sun casts deep shadows and the dunes take on a different appearance.

The dune photos were taken from Jolly at about 55 MPH, and as with most things I am finding in the west, everything is so large and dramatic and fabulous that Sony Too, bless it's little clicking digital recording soul, has a difficult time capturing the true beauty and awe.  Add in the issue of the glaring blinding sunlight, and for  the most part in Death Valley a lack of color, photography here is a major challenge.  And, the photography does not do justice to the starkness, the vastness, the danger, Death Valley.


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