The Mojave Desert… the name conjures up images of Joshua Trees and Giant Desert Tortoises. I immediately feel parched thinking about it. Images of pale green pants with nobody inside them give way to a feeling of wanting to go hide inside of a Brickle Bush. “I ran and found a Brickle bush
I hid myself away.
I got brickles in my britches
But I stayed there anyway.”
But one thing that I did not expect from the Mojave was the Kelso Dunes.
The Kelso Dunes are dunes that are subject to a rare phenomenon of “singing dunes”. When the temperatures are right and the sun has dried up the (minimal) vegetation in the area, the winds begin to sing. Climbing to the top and sliding down will add to the song to the point of being able to feel the vibrations of the song as you come to the bottom. I knew that the weather wasn’t right for me to experience this as it recently rained but I still wanted to take the opportunity to check it out.
As I pulled up, the dunes towered in the distance, inviting me to come explore them. I set off quite unprepared though. One thing that always gets me about hiking in the desert is how my sense of scale gets screwed with. In this particular case the dunes looked comically closer than they actually were. As I trudged closer and closer, my shoes filling up more and more with sand, with every step they seemed to get further and further away. The only sense of scale I had was two fellow hikers that slowly got bigger the closer I got. Finally, I reached the foot of the dunes themselves and had to decide wether to make my way up via switchbacks or run straight up. I decided to try to combine the two processes, which really didn’t work all that well.
I eventually reached the top and saw that the hike was well worth it. The mountains in the distance seemed to reach on forever. As I walked along the top I felt like I should have a camel with me to ride off into the distance, images of Aladdin filling my head. I was so far from my car I couldn’t even make it out anymore. Just a small black speck in the distance near the only road anyone could see. As the sun got higher up in the sky, I decided it was time to start my trek back.
If you’ve made it this far into the Mojave Preserve and you still have some energy left to explore, I’d recommend stopping by the Amboy Crater; a unique volcanic cone not too far from the dunes. I went on a short hike here, but reaching the center of the crater was too much for me for the day. I enjoyed the different rock formations that lead up to it though and have added it on my list as a “must do” the next time I’m reasonably close.
Closest Supercharger Baker CA