Death Valley, California

I walk off into the desert like the poster child for what not to do in Death Valley. 109°. No compass. No water.

I wonder how long I can go before my tongue swells, the hallucinations start, my brain begins to shut down, the vultures circle, flare their wings and descend.

I’m guessing it will probably be a couple minutes longer than it takes me to walk the 200 yards back to my air conditioned car.

Death Valley in July is hot, no denying it. But it’s no worse than a Vegas parking lot, and the scenery is better.

I walk through the sand dunes here, sweat evaporating into a thin salt crust as I wonder at the sun-bleached vegetation and sand. A gaggle of German guys hike in one dune over. They strip to the waist and make one abortive attempt at creating sand angels.

From the sound of it, the noonday sand has flayed the skin from their bones.

I smirk and shake my head at the foolishness of youth all the way back to my car. Up to the very moment when my I sit down in shorts on the black teutonic leather seats of my sun-baked car.

Photographed July 8, 2009 in Death Valley National Park, California using a Hasselblad 2000 FCM and Rodenstock 3X loupe using Neopan 400 black and white film.

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