Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Death Valley Adventure - Day 2 - Badwater Basin

[Composed 11/22/2023]

We awoke this morning to a sort of good-news-bad-news situation. The bad news: due to an epic storm nearly three months ago, which dropped a year's worth of rainfall in a day (2.2 inches!), much of Death Valley National Park remains closed to the public. The good news: all this water resulted in a unique souvenir: a lake where one usually finds nothing but cracked earth. We started our exploration of Death Valley with a visit to this lake.

The pictures of Badwater Basin and the temporary lake don't do the scene justice. The lake, while being shallow, is magnificent. Even standing just a few feet from the salt deposits, it's hard to appreciate that they are minerals and not snow. Near the basin's parking lot is a small plaque that marks sea level. It's easy to miss because it's perched 282 feet above you, on the side of a cliff. This place truly is other-worldly.

The mountains surrounding the basin are superb in their own right. What I found most striking was their variety. Even from a distance and lacking the geological vocabulary, one can appreciate that different types of rock and processes are on display for us. If there was ever a trip to bring your Middle School Earth Sciences teacher along, this is it.* I'm sure every aspect of the vista before us has special meaning, though I've got no idea what it may be.

We spent a little over an hour exploring the basin and the pop-up lake. Up next, we're heading to Sidewinder Canyon to get some hiking in. So far, Death Valley is very much living up to its reputation of being a park filled with unique wonders.

*This sentence caused me to ask Shira: hey, when did we take Earth Science and who was our teacher? Her response, which she had been waiting years to reply with was: Middle School, and *check the yearbook.* Ahhh, yes, the Middle School yearbook that I'd been nudging her to toss all these years. And just like that, it becomes a useful tool. Who knew Shira had been playing the long game with it? Well played babe, well played.

Oh, you think I'm making this all up? Nope, here's proof:

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