Dawn at Badwater Basin, Death Valley

After waking up at 3:45am to hike out into the basin in advance of dawn, and finding the coordinates I'd tagged on my GPS the previous evening - I set up shop to wait. Once dawn broke, and the sun crested the shallow eastern ridge, the entire basin floor (miles across) was swept with light in a matter of about 1-2 minutes. If you weren't ready for this dramatic light shift, you'd miss the window entirely. This frame captures the event, mid-sweep.

As to the place itself, Badwater Basin is one of those surreal places you have to experience to understand. Walking out into the dried lakebed, your eyes immediately begin to water from the salt in the air, and after a few minutes of hiking, you hear nothing but the hard crunch of salt crystals under foot and the still, stagnant (and extremely dry) air as you approach the 2nd lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, at 282 feet below sea level.

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