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Mojave Fringe-Toed Lizard

Mojave Fringe-Toed Lizard, Kelso Dunes, Mojave national preserve, California

Mojave Fringe-Toed lizard on Kelso sand dunes in Mojave national preserve, California.

Shooting sunrises from 6:30-7:30am and sunsets from 6:30-7:30pm leaves a lot of hours of boredom in between.  I don’t consider myself to be any sort of nature/wildlife photographer unless an easy opportunity presents itself; or in this case, I have nothing better to do.  I had gone on a quick scouting trip out to the dunes and noticed all these little lizards cruising around, often allowing me to get fairly close.  Cool, I think, I’ll go back and get my camera; better than reading in the back of my truck as the desert sun beats down and turns it into an oven.

By the time I return with a camera the lizards must have fully warmed up and switched into warp-speed mode, as I couldn’t get within 5 feet without them scurrying off into the distance.  After about an hour I managed to find this guy who I could quietly sneak up upon.   He was kind enough to let me grab a few shots before vanishing into the distance.  I gave up after that.

Footprints Everywhere! Wanderings Among the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes – Death Valley

Panoramic landscape photo - Mesquite flat sand dunes, Death Valley, California

Mesquite Flat sand dunes, Death Valley national park, California.

It was a frustrating exercise in futility wandering among the dunes, in search of the Dune that I had in my mind.  The Dune with that perfectly sculpted ridge, gently rounded and allowing the late afternoon shadows to gently fall across.  The untouched patterns of a thousand years of wind blown into the sand, like a sea of snakes racing into the distance.  The Dune, rising alone into the sky above all others, casting ever growing shadows as the sun determines the day has been long enough.

Judging by the amount of footprints, half the world must also be searching for that perfect dune.  I wandered for miles and hours.  In straight lines, circles, and zigzags.  To the tops of the highest dunes and into the lowest valleys.  North, south, east, west, and at one point, clear across the whole of the dunes.  My water bottle empty, mouth dry, I still wandered.  And everywhere, footprints!

It’s mostly my fault though.  The Mesquite dunes are right on the side of the road in a fairly popular national park, so what should I expect other than that lots of people walk among them. If  I was in some middle of nowhere place in north Africa and experienced the same, then I would be a bit more frustrated.  And winter is the best time in Death Valley as the temperatures are tolerable.  This year especially, with higher than average rain has probably drawn more people to the park to see the normally dry lakes not dry.

California landscape photography - Mesquite flat sand dunes, Death Valley national park

Panoramic landscape photo - Mesquite flat sand dunes, Death Valley, California

California travel photographer Cody Duncan - Self portrait on sand dunes in Death Valley