Phone Interview With Dr. Paula Messina
She's agreed to let a reporter go with her when she does another trip to Death Valley to update the movement of the sliding rocks of Racetrack Playa.
The mapping will take three days, maybe four. She's planning day trips from a motel in the national park. She leaves two hours before dawn to get to the Racetrack Playa just before dawn. She has lunch there and leaves mid- to late afternoon.
The Racetrack Playa is very remote, and there's nothing within 30 miles except a dry lakebed and rocks. Bring plenty of water and food, enough for two or three days if the car breaks down, which is possible on the very rough, unpaved road. It might take that long for a park ranger or another visitor to appear.
Once on the playa, Paula will use her maps to identify old rocks, and GPS equipment to figure out if they've moved since the last time she visited. If she comes across new rocks, she'll map their trails and take their measurements. She will identify or map every rock that she finds.
She will email contact information for other researchers who have worked on trying to solve the mystery and park rangers.
She suggests checking out her Web site for background information, photos and maps, and reading a Smithsonian article about the sliding rocks.