The Goal - Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley is part of the largest desert in North America, namely the Mojave Desert. Of course, when one thinks of the desert, one of the first things they picture are sand dunes. The one thing that surprised me about my visit to the valley was, while there were dunes, the majority of the park (at least the parts that I saw) was more valley floor and mountains. Fortunately, down a few miles from our hotel, the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes were there waiting for us to explore. Arriving at the parking lot for the dunes about an hour before sunrise, we trudged out toward the dunes in the distance with our flashlights and head lamps. Along the way, the clouds began to put on a light show, before the sun peeked above the horizon (we were lucky enough to have clouds most of the week, which is most unusual for Death Valley). I shot a number of photos of the clouds, but my heart was waiting for the sun to light up the landscape and the dunes to the west. Once lit up, you could look in the distance and see the highest dune. I looked at my great friend, Jaki Good Miller, and I think we thought the same thing. Climbing to the top of the dune was going to be "the goal". Off we went and made it after a strenuous climb.