Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rain in the Black Rock

By Brian Beffort.

"Playa" in Spanish means beach. I've always found humor in exploring the Black Rock Playa, and other dry lake beds across Nevada, often when the land is parched, bare, thirsty, with no water to be seen anywhere--hardly beach.

Not today. The playa this week is living up to its name. Inches of rain have already fallen this week in the Black Rock region, making this desert look more like a marine environment. Volunteer Chris Ripps and I enjoyed a beautiful trip to Soldier Meadows in the calm and beautiful window before the storms hit hard. Here are some pictures.

Sunset at Soldier Meadows...the calm beauty before the storm. (photo be Brian Beffort)

After driving rain on my tent all night long, we woke to see calm weather and fresh snow on Pahute Peak. (Brian Beffort)

After a few dry-but-windy hours, the storm set in. Misty rain first shrouded only the higher reaches of the Calico Mountains. (Brian Beffort)

Then it spread across the entire playa. (Brian Beffort)

After only a couple hour's of rain, every depression on the ground became a drainage. And while I've heard of glacial milk, the mineral rich sediment filling rivers in glacier-scoured mountains, this was my first encounter with alluvial milk pouring toward the playa here in the Calicos.

Photo by Brian Beffort

At 3pm on Tuesday, the playa was a lake. This is the cove just north of the 12-Mile entrance to the playa, a place where I have camped often with lots of other people for National Public Lands Day and other events. Good thing this storm didn't come then. And what will happen when such a storm comes during Burning Man?

Photo by Brian Beffort

Walking among the dune, stepping over rivulets, and staring out into the misty expanse reminded me of exploring the coast at low tide on a misty, rainy day.

No comments: