Wind! Wind! Wind! I swear there’s more wind nowadays and it’s stronger. It’s got to be climate change, right?
On our drive Thursday we had high wind warnings from the Inland Empire all the way to Lone Pine. The Airstream does pretty well in the wind, but it’s still very stressful towing. The wind howled the entire time we were in Lone Pine. On Friday morning the iPhone said the wind should be a little less on Saturday. So, we juggled our itinerary and did Alabama Hills on Friday and the Eureka Sand Dunes on Saturday. Who wants to be in a sandstorm exfoliating all your exposed skin and depositing sand in every orifice? No thanks!
If you haven’t been to the Alabama Hills, it’s this bitchin rockscape between Lone Pine and the base of the Sierras. It’s just a few miles west of Lone Pine and easily accessible. We were flabbergasted at the amount of people camping. Apparently the cat is out of the bag. It was quite shocking. In years past there were only a handful of campers. Unfortunately, most of the masses we saw were not in self-contained rigs. Which means there was a lot of visible toilet paper on the ground, in the bushes, and flapping in the wind. Amelia is not a fan of people leaving behind toilet paper; nothing gets her on a bigger rant than that. “Dig a hole people! If you aren’t going to bury it, then pack it out! Come on ladies, try air drying and stop leaving toilet paper where people go hiking!” Amelia on her rant, “All true backpackers and tent campers have shit shovels.”
To the best of our recollection, Saturday was our fourth visit to the Eureka Sand Dunes. It is in what I like to call the new part of Death Valley. I thought Death Valley had been a National Park forever. I was wrong. In 1933 it was declared a National Monument. It wasn’t until 1995 that it became a National Park, and expanded by 1,200,000 acres, which included Eureka Sand Dunes. Back when the dunes were just BLM land, my brother was out there paragliding, at least once. That’s how I first heard about the dunes.
Rising 680 feet above the dry lake bed at their western base, the dunes are the highest in California and second tallest in North America. The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado are the tallest.
Anyhoo, we lucked out. The weather was perfect with only a whisper of wind on the dunes. We were surprised at how many people were there, especially considering how remote it is. Being surprised by crowds is becoming a theme. Then again, it is Spring Break and folks have been pent up dealing with the pandemic. But I’m blaming it all on the internets and social media!
Next stop, Furnace Creek area of Death Valley.