In the days of the pandemic, Social Distancing by way of “Desert Distancing” comes easy for those of us in the hinterlands of the Mojave. Eastern California is largely wide-open spaces that are inhospitable to the conventions of normal people. I am always for taking the road less traveled. Recently I spent a few days in the Mojave outback of Saline Valley, and enjoyed solitude, and an extraordinary bloom.

Please enjoy a few shots along the way. I have decided to let this ‘blog’ be more of a pictorial and will let the captions convey the story. Not much of a story; just a great opportunity to get out and stretch.

Saline Valley, Death Valley
I do not believe I have ever seen the slopes of Saline Valley’s lowlands so pastoral.
Saline Valley, Death Valley
Beaver tail cactus was blooming in great profusion across the Saline Valley
The Park may be officially closed, but distance camping away from official campgrounds does not seem to be an issue. It was not hard to find remote corners providing primitive and unimproved camps. My only camp mates were a few collared doves and a rattlesnake. The rattlesnake was a good companion, well behaved, and always gave me fair warning. Never a problem.
Camping in new areas provided new perspectives on otherwise familiar country. I now have it in mind to explore this fan and enjoy the structure and hydraulics of this local alluvium.
I am not the only critter enjoying the bounty of the bloom.
Saline Valley, Death Valley
Beaver tail in bloom, Inyo Mountains still mantled in winter while the Valley baked at 106 degrees.
A splash of color in an otherwise drab desert
Saline Valley, Death Valley
Beaver tail cactus in bloom, desert holly, and creosote thriving on the desert pavement.
On a morning hike, before the heat turned up. The hills of the Bonanza King dolomite were actually green …. something I have not seen very often.
Saline Valley, Death Valley
The badlands of Saline Valley had an other-worldly appearance. (you can click on this photo for a full resolution version of the panorama)
Yerba mansa was in profusion, as well as blooming, at this spring up the road toward Steel Pass. Water was actually issuing upon the ground here.
Yerba mansa in bloom. Also known as “lizard tail”
The so-called “Hogan”
A pair of collared doves became my constant camp mates. The doves stayed on the top of the canopy. At night, bats would collect under the canopy, attracted by the light.
Found this fellow hanging out at the bottom of the spring, and I gave him a new perch.
Saline Valley, Death Valley
A desert oasis.
Last shot, on my way out of the valley. The color called, and I had to answer with a moment to appreciate and preserve.

While we have been filling our days in isolation, we have also taken the opportunity to explore the neighboring Panamint Valley.

Exploring Panamint Valley

Saline Valley Chronicles Index

Saline Valley Art Gallery