As we made our way from the wildflowers along Beatty Cutoff to 190, heading east in California’s Death Valley, we noticed a significant number of cars stopped by the side of the road. Far off in the distance, people were walking out on what appeared to be a dried salt creek. As we hadn’t seen anything noted on the map, we were puzzled, and more than a little curious.
Naturally, I was reluctant to get out of the car – we had reservations for dinner in Pahrump, and I didn’t know how long it would take to get there. Plus, I couldn’t see an easy way into the area. And, well, I’m the timid one. Luckily, Andy wanted to see what the attraction was, and his enthusiasm won me over. Out of the car, and off to explore we went.
The impression of the area was partially correct – it is a mostly dried water-bed. But it wasn’t a lake, it is what remains of Salt Creek. Further up the line, the water is a bit more substantial and is actually home to the Salt Creek Pupfish. Down in our area, we didn’t spy any fish, but we couldn’t help but be amazed by the scenery.
After crossing over the pickleweed bunches, we notice the white ground covering. The entire area is covered in the residue of the once flowing creek. The remains give the area, which is already dry, an even more arid look. It’s hard to believe that anything flourishes in such ashen earth. Just as we finished taking in the vast space around us, we looked past it all to the backdrop of mountains. In contrast, they look almost blue, as their elevation allows for significantly more life.
Even with all the other people venturing into the middle of this wash, it was nearly silent. Whether others were similarly caught in awe of their surroundings, or the wide expanse swallowed the sound before it reached us, I don’t know. All I can tell you is that a tremendous feeling of serenity overcame me – unusual given how stressed I am about life right now. I took a moment to just stop, close my eyes and breathe. Why? I don’t know. I just had to take the moment. It was a moment that Andy observed with a bit of wonder because he, too, had taken a moment to just breathe during an earlier desert stop (but hadn’t shared what he was doing at the time). So simpatico in that moment that in times of stress since, he has become fond of saying “our only job is to breathe.”
I’m trying to remember that even with the desert far behind me in the rear view mirror.