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My initial impression of Death Valley was of a dry stony openness, of a place where the earth is naked, barren, exposed. The thin vegetation doesn’t hide the folds and surfaces of the terrain. The vistas are immense. I get an immediate urge to get out of the car and start walking — just to see what is over that ridge or up this gully. Perhaps over there, up that wash and the alluvial fan above it, perhaps we can walk over there. In places, it seems like someone has packed the stones and the sand down for mile after mile — as if the desert had been run over with a steam roller. If there are clouds, they are often thin. The dry air sucks the moist life out of them. I climbed up to the top of Wildrose Peak one November. It was freezing on the top. Off to the west I could see snow on the higher peaks of the Sierras.

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