June 20th, 2011

Even now at 4:30 in the morning in Death Valley, it is near scorching. It is an ungodly heat, but for the beauty in this sparse land, it is worth it. We woke up really, really early in the morning to catch the sunrise and get a little hike in before it was too hot out. So we headed over to the Mesquite Sand Dunes to watch the sun rise over this sandy wonderland.

It was gorgeous, one of the most exquisite sunrises I have ever had the pleasure of watching. The way that the sun peeked over the mountains and seemed to crawl across the dunes was near magical.

With the sun newly risen, another aspect of this desert land was revealed to us; the texture. The lines and contours that have been etched into this land are amazing. The sun really accents its natural beauty and exaggerates the shape through definition.

There is so much beauty hidden in this desert it continues to amaze me. People assume that a place like Death Valley is barren, godforsaken land, but it is in a place like this that people can truly feel near god or some unearthly presence. Here, and every where around us is beauty, we just have to open our eyes and find it ourselves.

But a place of beauty is still incomplete without a bit of fun. My mom and I went down into the crease of the dunes to mess around. We played with the puzzle like pieces of dried river bed.

And even played with our own exaggerated shadows stretching across the desert floor. M for Multer, go travel buddies!!!

The dead heat of the afternoon was slowly creeping in around us so we quickly made our way out of the desert and moved onward to our next stop. Though ultimately our next stop was Yosemite, we made a stop along the way in Manzanar Historic National Park.

For those of you unfamiliar with this park, it is an old Japanese internment camp turned into a place of reflection and historical contemplation. Set beneath the beautiful snow-capped mountains near Mt. Whitney, this one square mile of land was once reserved for the relocated Japanese in California. It is intriguing and saddening to visit this place but most of all for me at least, it is a place to consider the decision of the past and wonder what the decision of the future may hold through the reflection and remembrance of a place such as this. The pillar in the cemetery here really brings this idea to the foreground.

Tokens of remembrance are left here like the long chains of paper cranes and coins for those who once had to call this place home. We can only wonder and remember this time where the world seemed a little darker for everyone.

 

After this stop we made our way upwards towards Yosemite with one more small stop along the way, Mono Lake. This unique lake is saltier than the ocean and is surrounded by strange monoliths that look like coral that wound up out of the water.

It si a strangely beautiful place, with blue-green waters and the snowy mountains behind it, these spires have an amazing location. Stuck between summer and winter, this strange place stands solitary.

There is almost no wildlife here to speak of except two species. The exotic seagull,

and it’s swarming food source, the Alkali Fly.

They sit in droves at the salty shores and only seem to move at the disturbance of humans. Upon which they rise up and swarm in black masses until the intruder is forced to run away due to fear of choking from the massive amounts of flies. Terrifying really…

Moving on, we finally made it to Tioga Pass, the entrance to Yosemite. This was quite a turn around because all of a sudden we found ourselves surrounded by deep snow banks and extreme snow run off.

In one day, we had gone from 108 degree deserts to snow laden valleys. It was quite a shock and seemed like this single dy had spanned weeks. However it was a very nice way to return home, what better views are there when returning home than half dome? Ok there are some but it was pretty nice!

It was a day that seemed to last forever but finally we found our way home. So here we are, safe and sound after a long week of adventure. As always, I am ready for more 🙂

 

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