High Saline, Low Salt

Josh Morris


When we woke up in the Grand Tetons at 5:00am to watch the sunrise I grabbed some things from the Rocket Box on top of our car and didn’t realize that I forgot to close it until I saw things hitting the freeway out of my rear view mirror some time later. This combined with car troubles, tiredness, and extreme cold led us to the decision of moving on to our next destination.

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Ever since I had picked up a camera two years ago I had dreamed of making a trip out to the giant mirror that was the Bonneville Salt Flats. We stopped twice a long the way, the first time to buy Joao a sleeping bag after we lost a bunch of gear, thanks to me and the second time to grab a National Parks Pass from REI in Salt Lake City. At first sight of the flats we pulled over and let the gooniness resume, dancing to Chance the Rapper, running through puddles, screaming “out’chea” at semi trucks flying by, and taking in the sight we were seeing. Joao, using his expert detective skills, stuck his finger in the ground and proceeded to lick it exclaiming “yep, that’s salt”, a solid conformation that we had arrived. Now it was time to find camp.

The hardest parts of this trip, and arguably the most rewarding as well, were the times we made mistakes because of our hastiness to adventure. About half way down the road that leads you to a big circular lot in the middle of the flats I told Joao to start filming and sent it straight into the flats. As soon as my back wheels made contact with the salt I knew we were in trouble. Now, having done my research, I can tell you that the middle of summer is NOT the time to drive on the flats, but this was not now. Water sat in the sulfury mud underneath the hardened salt waiting to trap our tires. I turned the wheel as hard as I could and just before we reached the road the car stopped moving. The next half hour was spent trying to get ourselves out until some strangers in a truck offered a hand. Using my slack line we hooked our car to the back of their truck and managed to pull ourselves out. With the fiasco over, we decided it was time to chill and watch the sun go down over the mountains. The water reflected the silhouetted mountains and the setting sherbet sun creating a spectacle I’d never seen before, there was nothing to do but sit and watch. We went to bed early with the warmth of the sunset and the excitement of adventures to come.

The next morning Rick and I ate oatmeal while staring across the falts to the mountains on the other side. Somewhere between me declaring my distain for oatmeal and eating it grumpily we decided it was the call to use our time to summit the mountains we enjoyed our breakfast too. Quickly mapping the distance we packed up and headed out. Watching the land change as our feet strode across it was surreal, bleak whites turned to tans with the occasional grasses, shrubs, and lizards until we reached the base of the mountain or as I liked to call it “a big pile of rocks”. We took an hour to scramble up the craggy mountain causing minature rockslides the entire way up. When we got to the top, we took a picture together, ate lunch, and admired the view before hiking back.


That night we set off the fireworks we had stopped for in Nevada and watched as a completely different sunset took place. A storm was brewing in the mountains far off and it turned the whole sky blue, purple and pink. We took a stroll through the underwater world while listening to Mac Miller and Kendrick Lamar, an oddly fitting vibe.

As the storm got closer, the wind picked up. Using our cooler to hold down our tent we crawled in bed for some deep conversations. At around 1:00am the winds were so fierce that we were struggling to feel safe inside our collapsing tent. After a quick and unanimous vote we were packed up and heading to our next destination, leaving the salt flats and all our fond memories of camp in the dark.

More photos from the trip.