99 In the Shade*

Ah, just when one thinks – and by one I mean myself – she’s getting back on track – and by back on track I mean writing/posting regularly – and here she goes, off for a while again.

I am not simply taking time off because I’m lazy – there are plenty of distractions ruining my schedule as it is – but because I’m off on a new adventure this week. On March 13th, a few friends and myself are setting off to climb “the highest freestanding mountain in the world” – Mt Kilimanjaro (5896m).

I will, of course, dedicate a special post about it as soon as we get back – even if there are already so many stories written about it  – but in case you are curious about the way our ascent is going as it progresses, you are free to check it out on the “live” page of the people who are helping us do this: Kandoo Adventures Live. The group will probably be called “Yoanna’s group” 😛


Since I am about to embark on a journey
to the highest point I’ve ever been, I thought it appropriate for this post to be about the lowest point that I’ve ever visited. And since this is in the USA section, you must already know I’m talking about Death Valley!

On the picture on the right, I hope you can spot that arrow pointing at a tiny white speck circled off on the rock because that white speck there is actually a sign and it says “SEA LEVEL”.

Not only would it look awful had I zoomed in on it, but it would have completely ruined the effect, hence the poor Paint job (excuse the pun :P). This is how far below sea level Nikola and I were that scorching April afternoon, standing at the edge of Badwater Basin. I didn’t check it then, but according to Wikipedia (so it must be right), we were 86 metres (or 282 feet) below sea level.

And what’s at the bottom of the continent, you wonder? I still don’t know myself if the answer is astonishing or underwhelming. Either way, it’s salt.



And it’s called a basin because it does actually sometimes hold water. Someone had, in fact, dug up a hole to show there is some water at the bottom of it all. You can’t quite tell if there’s anything in there because of the blazing sun, but I kinda got the urge to dig some more while I was standing beside it 🙂

My goodness, the heat in that place. Just to think how hot it must be all the time to turn most any water that finds its way into Badwater Basin into and endless field of salt. How anything manages to flower in these conditions is just one of those miracles of Mother Nature that we sometimes hear about.


So what other intriguing spots does Death Valley hold? My personal favourite was this:

Nice, huh? And how extremely weird salt can be. Who knew!

As advertised, it was very hard to walk over that terrain, so we didn’t wander too far away from the road. The other reason for us not to linger in a vast barren field of jagged salt formations, despite the special ring to its name, was the aforementioned heat. IMG_20140430_170544

And so you don’t have to take my word for it, here is what our lovely, air-conditioned companion had to say on the matter. Granted, it’s Fahrenheit, but this is still close to 40° Celsius. It went up to 105 but it seemed pointless to document it further. That was enough for me.

*For those of you who get the reference – you can’t judge me; for those of you who don’t – ah, how young you are. (I’ve pretty much been an 80s kid all throughout my teens, even if I was only born in the late 80s)

Soon enough, we were sun-kissed, sweaty, salty, and, quite frankly, a little overheated to spend more time a dangerous distance away from any substantial shade (or a water source for that matter), so we went on our way.

Before we left the famous valley, we made a couple more stops – each hotter and sandier than the other, but still they were fascinating enough for us to look around. I am leaving you with a nice stitched up panorama of one such sandy but fascinating spot.


And with this, I am wishing you an awesome month of March as I won’t be back before mid-April. Weather is seems to be (temporarily) back to Winter here in Switzerland, with almost a metre of new snow that just fell days ago, so to those of you int he area – have fun in the powder! 🙂


About Yoanna Novakova

Yoanna is a reader, writer, traveller, concert goer, hiker, drinker, thinker and, of late... a blogger. She's currently doing a lot of travel writing (obviously), but fiction, fantasy and life-writing all have a representative in her portfolio. A reader of varied tastes, she's even been called "strange" for enjoying Stephen King and Terry Pratchett alike. In her pre-teen years, she used to be the kid who'd re-read her favourite books over and over again. Now she knows life is just too short for that. Always reading more than one book at a time, always writing more than one project at a time, she is yet to find her perfect pace. But she's working on it!
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