Hidden Dunes

Somewhere between finding my balance and tyring to take it all in stride, I managed to neglect sharing one of the most beautiful, calming and peaceful time-outs I have experienced as of late. Sitting on a desert dune in the golden glow of the setting sun, bare toes buried in the cool singing sands, I literally sat and watched Time slip through my hands as tiny grains of sand fell between my fingertips. Time is precious and I do so hate to waste it. But surely there is nothing wasted in those moments of quiet awe, holding a world of wonder in the palm of your hand.

It has been several weeks now, but just before the temperature began to rise we took one last excursion to Death Valley to see if we could find these “hidden dunes”. We had been eyeing them on the map for many years and something about the idea of a hidden little valley filled with sand, off the beaten path where most would not even think to go…we found it very appealing. Well, you know how we feel about those treasure hunts. And discovering this little valley of dunes in the middle of the desert was definitely like finding a hidden treasure.

Driving into the more remote northwest end of Death Valley National Park, we left the road a few miles before reaching the fairly well-known Eureka Dunes. Eureka Dunes are quite lovely themselves, with a beautiful view of the Last Chance Range. We had visited those dunes before and planned to try to find a place to camp there later, but first, we wandered off into the open desert in search of those lesser-known “hidden dunes.”

Approaching the entrance to this sand-filled valley, we encountered many sand-loving blooms like the Evening Primrose and Apricot Mallow. The yellow Prince’s Plume stood regal and tall as though guarding the gate to this magical realm. Those desert wildflowers do so amaze and we were delighted to have caught the dune flowers in bloom.

It was a perfectly beautiful day to be wandering about on sand dunes. Off in the distance there was some weather happening over the Sierra which made for that picture-perfect cloud-filled sky.

For hours we walked along ridge lines made of sand. We took in the textures, the colors, the quiet solitude. We sat to observe the shadow play of clouds and the creation of wind ripples in the sand. We watched clouds dance in that continuous cycle of formation and destruction as footprints in the sand disappeared before our very eyes. Nature in motion, yet so still. Always changing, ever the same.

As the day began to dwindle we slowly sauntered back across the three miles or so of open desert to the car. We were hoping to find a site available down the road at the small Eureka Dunes campground. We drove the short distance of bumpy dirt road and lucky enough, we found ourselves an available campsite and settled in for the evening.

Eureka Dunes are actually the tallest sand dunes in California, boasting a beautiful view of the Last Chance Mountains, singing sands and several species of desert life endemic to this particular place. Right from camp one can wander out into this amazing backyard to climb those massive hills of sand, run down barefoot tumbling ’round, bask in the fading desert sun, watch sand beetles burrow in and wildflowers open for the nectar gatherers of the nocturnal sort.

We set up camp then wandered out to enjoy the evening hours on the sand dunes. Tired from the hours spent walking the hidden dunes, I was content to sit, wait and contemplate while hubby climbed the steep slopes of the dunes to take photos in the golden glow of the evening sun. There is no better sensation than bare toes buried in cool sand, basking in the last rays of a beautiful desert day, fingers slowly sifting sand, holding a world of wonder in your hand…some things you just never outgrow.

Naturally, we took this opportunity to try capturing an image of that magical Milky Way from these beautiful desert dunes. After a few scant hours of sleep, we quietly rose, careful not to wake our fellow campers deep in slumber. We wandered out in the dark of night to gaze and wonder and that never-ending starry sky, contemplating the infinite.

To see a world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wildflower
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand
and eternity in an hour.
~William Blake

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