The Story Behind…Death Valley

March 13, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

The Story Behind…
Death Valley

#1 - North from Badwater - Death Valley, California

#2 - Bent Rock Wall - Death Valley, California

Death Valley…what a morbid name for a beautiful and diverse spot on this Earth.  Towering peaks hold winter snow, rare rainstorms bring wildflowers, bighorn sheep, red-tailed hawks and wild burros may be seen and oases harbor tiny fish…believe it or not! 

But why the name Death Valley?  In 1849, during the California gold rush, prospectors called it Death Valley after 13 pioneers perished from one early wagon train, a name that still sticks today.
No denying, it does get hot.  Located in California, Death Valley is one of the hottest places in the world with the hottest air temperature recorded at 134ºF (1913) and hottest surface temperature recorded at 201ºF (1972).
Photo #1:  North from Badwater
White crystals crunched beneath our feet and the 5 mile long distance in front of us appeared ominous.  Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level, the lowest elevation point in North America.  During the middle of the Pleistocene era, inland lakes formed but as the area turned to desert, water evaporated leaving an abundance of evaporitic salts such as common sodium salts and borax.  Even today, a small spring-fed pool of water exists next to the road but accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make the water undrinkable or “bad water”…thus the name Badwater.
Photo #2:  Bent Rock Wall
Bent Rock Wall is located in Mosaic Canyon and is an example of the results of enormous geological pressures that pushed and distorted the rock over millions of years.
North from Badwater and Bent Rock Wall were captured on film with a 4x5 view camera.  Arriving at Badwater before sunrise, we hiked out onto the salt lake, setup our breakfast and waited for the sun to come up.  In Mosaic Canyon, we hiked through the canyon where the beauty of various formations was stunning but the most outstanding memory was the rain.  It rained in Mosaic Canyon…really!
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