This is a two-part walk. The first day I stayed on the wooden walkway. The second day I had gotten permission (none was needed, but OK) to follow the trail the goes farther than the walkway (just stay on the trail, is what I was asked to do). So here we are, turning to go to Salt Creek along a few miles of decent dirt road. You can see that we are at the north end of the Panamint Range, and the area we are going into is surprising: it tilts toward us, not toward the central part of the valley, so Salt Creek flows east out of that opening in the photo:
Salt Creek ends close to where the parking area is: it is reabsorbed into the alluvium of the desert:
So, let's turn around and see this creek: this is where the flow ends, with only wet sand continuing on to the end as we just saw.
But if we turn around, we see quite a bit of water coming at us (sorry about the sun, it was setting):
Now we are up to where the wooden walkway begins, so we will follow it (note the sand-dune terrain):
As soon as we can see water clearly, we notice fish: Salt Creek Pupfish, a unique species that lives only here in water as salty as the ocean's!
So, who would dare eat this rare species of fish? A killdeer maybe? This one seems to like to fish:
While we are looking at critters, here is a Zebra-tail lizard,
And just as I was ready to step off the wooden path for another picture, I caught this in the corner of my eye: a sleeping Sidewinder right where I was planning to put my right foot:
On the way back, it was cooler and it was gone. But, enough critters, let's get back to looking at the creek.
The dry side channels provide quite a contrast:
Along the way, there are small feeder springs (this one seems to be going dormant):
Toward the end of the walkway there were some ponds, but also areas where vegetation was drying out (Summer is on its way and much of what we just saw will be dry, but there are wetter places upstream that stay wet all year and that is where the pupfish are in the Summer-- except the ones that die as the stream stops flowing).
This view shows the main creek and one of the meanders that is now drying up:
Life is tough in nature. But while the living is good, it is good, ask any of these pupfish!
On the next page we will go upstream and see where there is water all year in this creek.
Go to Second Salt Creek Walk
Go to Other 2008 Death Valley destinations:
Devils Hole Workshop Field Trip
Go to California Page
Go to 2008 Yearbook
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