I Made a New Friend in Death Valley. She Was a Hovering Cloud.

“In the desert, the sun and earth always seem larger. Wilder. Brighter. More demanding. More silent. Somehow more certain.”
-Victoria Erickson

Death Valley, wanderlust

As we drove out of Yosemite and into the night, I stared out my window thinking about the day’s adventures.

…That’s when I noticed a white cloud against the night sky.

Why is a cloud hovering over the mountains, I wondered out loud. There were no major cities nearby and no other clouds in sight.

We kept driving, finally passing through the last town and gas station before entering the empty desert. My stomach turned. Something about Death Valley creeped me out. Maybe it was just the name.

What if we cannot find a place to sleep? I thought. What if we get lost and run out of gas and water? Oh gawd, I just drank the last bottled water…

I stared at the cloud hovering over the horizon. It had become cloudier. So I made it my friend, and we stared at each other in silence while my boyfriend drove us through the winding roads of Death Valley National Park. Our car’s thermometer read 78°F.

It wasn’t long before I realized we were alone on the road — just my boyfriend, myself, and the cloud. It was almost midnight, and there were no other cars in sight. Why was the cloud still hovering, though?

Death Valley, Milky WayWe continued driving, searching for a campground, and I watched the thermometer go from 78°F to 90°F and back down to 78°F. The numbers changed every time we went up or down a hill. Everything felt so strange.

“We will fill our water bottles, set up camp, and use the toilet when we find a campground” I told myself. “Then we will wake up for sunrise and explore Death Valley before the blazing sun hits us at noon. And maybe we’ll even stay another night just so that we can experience the Milky Way from the lowest point in the USA. It’ll be epic,” I thought.

I wasn’t sure if I was having a conversation with my new cloud friend, or if I was talking to myself so that I could forget how nervous I felt driving into Death Valley —THEE Death Valley — in the middle of the night.

We drove for what seemed like hours until we finally found a campground. It was now midnight and 99°F. Was our thermometer broken?

…And then I noticed the SKY! We jumped out the car and gasped in disbelief. It was my cloud friend, and her name was Milky Way. She was no ordinary hovering cloud.

Standing there was like standing under a dome, Milky Way stretching from one end to the other. Suddenly, all the stars were at our feet. We spent the next several minutes in silence admiring her beauty. Nothing else mattered.

That night, we slept under the stars, with no tent cover and under 99-degree weather. But we were awakened several times throughout the night by strong gusts of wind. Even our neighbors woke up, packed their tent, and slept inside their SUV instead.

We roughed it out, wrapped in the embrace of our friend, Milky Way.

The rest is herstory…

Below are photos and blurbs from our time in Death Valley in the middle of summer. Remember to always look up! Maybe a new friend will be smiling right back :)

Love & Adventure,

Denise

Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

———————————————–

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, CA

The Milky Way is so clear and visible in Death Valley. So visible, that I noticed the ‘cloud’ even before the sky was fully dark and starry.

Death Valley, Milky WayWhen we arrived to the campground, we didn’t see any restrooms or drinking fountains, and I was too scared to wander off.

Instead, we drove off around 1AM to find any available facilities. We only came across an overpriced motel. Though we chose not to spend the money, we were happy they let us use their restroom and fill our water bottles.

Morning’s tangerine sunrise revealed that the restrooms were right next to our camp all along. LOL! Their drinking fountains, however, were completely dry.

Death Valley, sunriseThere were maybe two other campers overnight, but we woke up just before sunrise to find everyone was already gone.

Death ValleyThe eeriest camping experience I’ve ever had. It was ghost town.

Death ValleyNobody to the right…Nobody to the left…

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand DunesI was stoked to experience a real desert! I know it may sound funny, but this is what I imagine when I think of a desert.

Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand DunesSand dunes. Endless, magical sand dunes.

Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand DunesIt wasn’t even 9AM, and this place was already 110 degrees HOT.

Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes…soooooo unbelievably hot! Welcome to Death Valley in July.

Every molecule in my body screamed to go back to the comfort of the car’s air conditioner.

Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand DunesBut standing here was unreal…Just. A few. More. Minutes.

Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand DunesHow beautiful is this desert?

Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand DunesWe spotted another being far into the dunes. Spy him below.

Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand DunesNo sand, no problem…

Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand DunesAnd after about 25 minutes in the dunes, I’d had enough heat.

Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Golden Canyon

Sometime during our drive, we pulled into the ranger station/visitor center. Always make an effort to stop by for information! There, they advised we should not hike anything longer than 10 minutes due to summer heat.

They also made suggestions for areas we should/should not access with our type of vehicle (I’m glad we asked, because remember our rental fiasco back in Seattle? We were stuck with a small sedan.)

Death Valley, Golden CanyonOn our way to Bad Water Basin, we pulled over to walk through Golden Canyon.

Death Valley, Golden CanyonIt was like entering a cathedral.

Death Valley, Golden CanyonThe weather was only getting hotter…

Death Valley, Golden CanyonYou’ll notice a lack of photo creativity. I was already so uncomfortable with the heat, that I didn’t care to be in any of the shots.

Death Valley, Golden CanyonSo, all you’re getting are photos like these. Haha. #SorryNotSorry

Death Valley, Golden CanyonDo you see why it’s called Golden Canyon? :)

We didn’t do the entire hike. It was too hot.

Death Valley, Golden CanyonWe should have packed more than one water bottle. Also, our water turned really warm less than 5 minutes into our hike. I’m not exaggerating. 

Death Valley, Golden CanyonBut the landscapes were just so pretty…

Death Valley, Golden CanyonSee the different colors in the canyon walls?

Death Valley, Golden Canyon

Death Valley, Golden CanyonMore yellow on our way back to the car.

Death Valley, Golden CanyonWe drove off into the endless road, making our way to Bad Water Basin — the lowest elevation in North America.

Stay hydrated, and join me on the next blog post :)

Death Valley, Bad Water Basin

***

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Stay curious, wild hearts!

***

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6 responses to “I Made a New Friend in Death Valley. She Was a Hovering Cloud.

  1. I absolutely LOVE your posts. Your sense of adventure. Keep trekking my friend. I don’t know if you visited (or saw) Scotty’s Castle while you were in Death Valley. Death Valley Scotty enjoyed some dubious fame in his day . . . my grandparents knew Scotty and met him on a number of occasions. Here is a link to his story if you’re interested:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_E._Scott

    • Stephen, you always brighten my days! Thank you for that, and for your words.

      We saw Scotty’s Castle from a distance, but it was closed for repairs due to a flash flood. Even then, it looked so extravagant, like a mirage in the middle of a desert! I really hope to visit again, this time perhaps not during summer :)

      Thanks for sharing the link. I’ll take a read. Have a great weekend!

  2. Pingback: From Cliffs to Earthly Domes (Glacier Point) | ☽ Of Wildest Heart·

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