Death Valley: the driest place in North America. Less than 50mm (2in) of rain water each year. For now, an ironic bit of trivia.
It’s early. The dawn has not risen yet, but the air is a comfortable 27C (80F).
Silence. Not a bird or insect around. Nothing alive, it seems.
A strange, numinous beauty permeates the landscape. I breathe a primeval essence. Spirits roam the land.
Yesterday I came face to face with a silver fox. He was strolling on the double yellow line, one paw in front of the other. He stopped when I approached, and slowly turned his head towards me. A few slow breaths. He trots off the road.
Stillness and solitude. No signs of life as far as the eye can see.
The lowest point in North America. The air seems heavier.
Last night, pictures of star trails at Zabriskie Point. Vegas, 100 miles away, the atomic glow of its lights perpetually below the horizon.
I secure my 40D on its tripod.
Framing. The ridge of the mountain follows a straight line to the valley. The stars twinkle in the silvery puddle of toxic water.
The water is shallow, barely 1/2 inch, but saturated of poisonous salts and minerals. Badwater, they call it.
Exposure set to 20 minutes. I release the shutter.
I sit cross legged waiting for the camera sensor to capture the faint light. My stomach growls. I stand up and walks toward my pack to grab a snack.
A gust of wind. Plonk.
The camera lies in the water, the tripod toppled by impish elemental forces.
The camera will not capture today the beautiful reflection of the starlight. The camera will never capture another image again, vanquished by a puddle in the middle of the driest place in North America.