Around me lay an ocean of sand dunes, broken now and then by scrub brush and solitary petrified branches, which I was using as trail markers. I stared behind me trying to locate the previous lone dead tree trunk I had passed, but it was lost in an expanse of quartz crystals. As I stood on the slope of my hill, the warmth seared through the bottom of my hiking boots until I felt I was walking on top of a lighted grill. I took a look at my right sole and found the rubber warped by the high temperature of the sand. I was in the lowest and driest part of North America. For three days and two nights I had also been inundated with some of the hottest temperatures in the world. But I wasn’t going to let Death Valley get the better of me.
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