Dust Storm, Desert Mountains. Death Valley National Park, California. April 1, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Dust from a desert sand storm fills the air and obscures mountains
You’ll have to look closely to make sense of this one. Made on April 1st, there is a certain sense about this photograph of a minor April Fools joke played at my expense. I had experienced several days of very dusty conditions in Death Valley. On the first day I was way up in the Panamint Mountains at dawn, only to discover that I was still within a cloud of dusty air the extended up to well above 8000′ of elevation. I never did figure out where it was coming from, as the Valley itself certainly wasn’t producing it. That night the winds came to the Valley and blew a decent sand storm through my camp. The next day I figured that I would try to find a way to evade the blowing dust.
I got up very early — as always — and headed out of Death Valley and to the east toward Nevada. I then took a long back road route back into the park. This route took me on back-country gravel roads through the Amargosa Range, eventually dropping down into a deep canyon before heading back to Death Valley. Driving in these mountains and down this canyon, I forgot about the dusty conditions — here there wasn’t more than a bit of hazy atmosphere and the wind didn’t work its way into this canyon either. At the bottom of the canyon the route finally emerged from a narrow canyon and arrived at the top of a huge gravel fan stretching down toward the Valley. And here I saw the extent of the dust and wind, as the entire Valley was full of dust that was well-distributed yet thick enough to almost completely obscure the mountain range on the other side. My day of clear weather came to an abrupt end as I descended into the dust and wind and headed back to my camp.
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