Research has kept me quite busy the last few months, but I finally had a chance to escape for a few days. Some friends came down from Seattle to visit, so Aubrey and I took them on a fun adventure to the Saline Valley hot springs in Death Valley National Park. A few days before we went out one of the biggest storms of the season brought lots of rain to southern California, ensuring that the roads were nice and muddy. More importantly, however, this storm brought some lingering and low lying clouds, turning the Joshua Tree forests into a mystical scene.

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Joshin' Around

Just hanging out with some Joshua Trees in the fog.

Joshua Trees, Fog, Death Valley National Park

Desert Sentinels : Prints Available

Rare low hanging clouds and fog envelop the Joshua Trees and Cotton Top Cacti of Death Valley's high desert.

We missed the annual Presidents Day baseball game at the springs, but arrived at the right time to enjoy a little solitude. Of course, the burros always want some company, and we were happy to oblige. Or maybe they’re just pretending, hoping to get fed some tasty morsels, like cardboard. I guess cardboard tastes a little better than the desert shrubs they are used to eating?

Making some friends with the local burro population. Photo by Heath.

Desert hot spring necessities: towel + water + ukulele. Photo by Bobbie.

In between soaks, and fresh cooked meals, we explored the polished and twisting canyons and the rolling sandy dunes.

Heath making the big move over a dry fall in a remote slot canyon.

Slot Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Cathedral of Light : Prints Available

Reflected light bounces across the marble walls of a remote and spectacular slot canyon in Death Valley National Park.

Fun in the Saline Valley dunes. Photo by Heath.

On our drive out another weather front arrived, bringing an unusual sight to Death Valley: fresh snowflakes! The Joshua Trees looked quite festive in the snow flurries, while the sun still beamed warm sunshine down into the valleys. Along the road I spotted a red-tailed hawk enjoying the view of the valley below from its perch on a lonely juniper while being buffeted by the winter storm. I like to think that the hawk, like myself, is pondering the mysteries of the valley below, their hidden canyons, peaceful perches in the endless wilderness, and warm sunshine to bask in. Lucky for the hawk, it’s just a 10 minute flight to get down there. For me it would be a 2 hour drive, or a far longer hike!

Snowstorm, Joshua Trees, Death Valley National Park

Desert Snowglobe : Prints Available

A fleeting snow storm passes through the Joshua Tree forests of Death Valley's high desert.

Red-Tailed Hawk, Snowstorm, Death Valley National Park

Hawk Eyes : Prints Available

A red-tailed hawk eyes the sunlit valley below from its perch atop an old Juniper amid a brief desert snow storm. The valley below is Panamint Valley, one of several valleys in California's Death Valley National Park.

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