Death Valley Impressions

This album contains a series of pictures - the intent of which is to convey an impression of Death Valley. Not in summer when the heat is at its Zenith, but in the depth of winter when a few clouds may relieve the monotony of a blue sky, and the heat shimmer of summer is replaced by cooler air, which allows for crisper images with more vibrant colors..

By "Impression" here, I mean the shameless use of filters and camera settings (as well as post-processing in Photoshop) to convey the feeling of what I saw rather than just simple ritualistic reality.

Click on any of the following links to go to another page in this album.

Journey to
Death Valley


Journey To Death Valley


Windmills At The Summit of The Tehachapi Pass

To get there from the San Francisco area, you first have to drive south far enough to where it becomes feasible to cross over the Sierra Nevada towards the east in winter. This means a comfortable 8 hour drive with an overnight stay somewhere near Bakersfield and then turn left over the Tehachapi Pass and across the Mojave Desert and so on towards the the Nevada border.


After crossing the Tehachapi Pass and descending down into the rain-shadow of the Mojave desert, it becomes apparent that vegetation is getting sparser and the local trees look more rugged, even in their winter leafless state.


A little further towards the desert, and even the few remaining conventional trees become sparser and start to give way to the cactus-like Joshua tree.


Pressing on towards Death Valley, and even the few trees are gone - the only vegetation left is sparse clumps of parched-yellow bushes. In the distance we are approaching a dried-out lake with the little town of Trona just visible on the road ahead.

Trona (cognate to the Arabic "Natron" and the Latin "Natrium" for sodium) has a population of 18 people and consists of little more than a factory that harvests chemicals from the dried-out lake bed. This facility used to be a major supplier to the world of Borax at the start of the 20th century, today it produces nearly 2 million tons annually of (primarily) Sodium Carbonate for the Chemical Industry.


Between us and our destination are a series of ever-more colorful mountain ridges, interspersed with wide flat-bottomed valleys. As we crest one ridge, a new valley lies displayed before us.


The second of these valleys that we have to cross is the Panamint Valley - ahead of us is yet another mountain ridge, on the other side of which we are told, lies our destination...

After climbing through a pass on the next ridge of mountains we finally descend into Death Valley itself - the colors on the mountains give a hint of what is to come.


Just past Stovepipe Wells and on our way to Furnace creek - our first encounter with sand dunes just as evening light falls over the valley.


Destination achieved - this Post Office with the Zip Code 92328 covers a territory of around 3 million acres - which is over 5,300 square miles or nearly 14,000 square kilometers. Officially home to 186 residents (as of the 2010 census) which is down from 442 a decade earlier.


Journey to
Death Valley