I’ve been in Death Valley, California for the last three days, revisiting a place I first visited in 2013. You would think of it as a place that stays pretty static over the years. Less than two inches of rain a year, essentially a desert surrounded by mountains. That’s pretty much what I thought until arriving here a couple days ago. Just three weeks ago, there was a huge storm that poured over 3.5 inches of rain in less than 5 hours. Understand that the valley floor is below sea level.
This is the boardwalk leading out to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. The arrow is pointing to a sign up on the mountain. It reads….
Yep, Sea Level.
Just gives you an idea of what below sea level really is!
So, with all the rain here less than three weeks ago, how does that affect an area that gets less than half that over a whole year.
Well, this is one way…
This was taken in the evening, when I was here in 2013. It’s on the floor of Badwater Basin, looking north. The floor is a salt pan left, when two to four thousand years ago, the 30 foot deep lake that was here, evaporated, leaving the layer of salt that varies from one to five feet deep!
And this was taken two days ago at sunrise, looking in the same direction.
The lake is back!
Not as deep, maybe two inches or so, but most of that bone dry salt pan is now under water. What that does is melt all those salt ridges down to almost nothing. It will take years for it to return to the way it looked in 2013.
One of the things I wanted to do on this trip, was to visit some places I didn’t on the last visit. Dante’s View is one of them.
Dante’s View is more than 5000 feet above the basin below. This gives you a pretty good look at the “lake”. When you click on the image to enlarge, look to the bottom, just to the left of center, and you can see where the boardwalk dumps out onto the basin. An amazingly vast landscape.
Don’t forget, click to make the images bigger!