Thursday, August 19, 2010
Looking down on the lowest place in the western world is like seeing a frozen lake. It lies flat in the bottom of Death Valley, shimmering in sunlight as shadows of the eastern range retract. I go down near it in my car and park after the shadows expose its brilliance. I walk out on salty rocks and earth to where there is no more earth. From here on there is only salt. The air is already over one hundred degrees and seems hotter in the white reflection of sun. Salt crystals crunch under my boots.
I set up the tripod and begin recording me in this white expanse. It’s hard to get a grip on how vast it is and how long it would take to walk across it, like those gold-rush travelers did and lost so many of their numbers and gave the place its name of death.
I kneel down to see the tiny growths of salt that rise up as from seed, and spread their tiny tendrils that I only saw later on close examination of my pictures.
I walked a mile or two onto the salt flat of Badwater, looked back at the shore, took a long drink of water, and headed back to the real world.