Death Valley: Canyon & Ghost Town

Our last night's sleep, at Furnace Creek's Texas Spring Campground, was pretty rough. All night, we endured wind gusts up to 60 miles an hour. It was crazy and difficult to sleep, so I just said "What the heck!" and started coffee at 5 AM.

I was gleefully rewarded as I watched the amazing moon set. Wow!
Early rising also got us a seat for this spectacular sunrise. A rough night started off as a pretty incredible day.
Our last Death Valley event was to hike Mosaic Canyon. Described as having "polished marble walls and “Mosaics” of fragments of rocks cemented together (below) make this small canyon a favorite.The twisting lower canyon is so narrow hikers must walk through it single-file. Some rock scrambling is required. The canyon opens up after ½ mile to reveal the heights of Tucki Mountain."



Not a bad place to end a visit to Death Valley!
Our final explore happened just outside the Park at the Ghost Town of Rhyolite. In 1904, gold was found in the area. The most promising was the Montgomery Shoshone mine, which prompted everyone to move to the Rhyolite townsite. The town immediately boomed with buildings springing up everywhere.


In 1906, Tom T. Kelly, built a Bottle House out of 50,000 beer and liquor bottles... early day re-purposing!
One building was 3 stories tall and cost $90,000 to build. A stock exchange and Board of Trade were formed. The red light district drew women from as far away as San Francisco. There were hotels, stores, a school for 250 children, an ice plant, two electric plants, foundries and machine shops and even a miner’s union hospital. It was a happening place with about 3,000 residents at its heyday.


This is a better image of what Rhyolite was like. Wild, right? After the earthquake in SF in 1906, there was a financial panic of 1907 which took its toll on Rhyolite and was seen as the beginning of the end for the town. In the next few years mines started closing and banks failed. Newspapers went out of business, and by 1910 the production at the mill had slowed leaving only 611 residents in the town. Slowly the town was dismantled and abandoned. By 1916, the light and power was finally turned off in the town. Merely 12 years after the first gold was found.
I included this photo of a feral burro, because we had seen evidence of them throughout Death Valley. They are the living legacy of the mining that happened there long ago and are considered invasive species and unwanted by the park rangers. In May of 2015, a man got lost while on a hike. He saw the burros and followed them to water, which kept him alive for days. How lucky he was that those burros were still there.

Lonely Planet best describes Death Valley:
The very name evokes all that is harsh, hot and hellish – a punishing, barren and lifeless place of Old Testament severity. Yet closer inspection reveals that in Death Valley nature is putting on a truly spectacular show: singing sand dunes, water-sculpted canyons, boulders moving across the desert floor, extinct volcanic craters, palm-shaded oases and plenty of endemic wildlife. This is a land of superlatives, holding the US records for hottest temperature (134°F), lowest point (Badwater, 282 ft below sea level) and largest national park outside Alaska (over 5000 sq miles).
We go home to the snow blanketed Sierras but have already planned a trip to return here, to explore more and bask in the unique wilderness (and warmth).

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2 comments:

Karen Booth said...

Che bella luna!!!!!

Nick and Deb's Excellent Adventure said...

Maybe we can build a house from wine bottles! WOW on the moon and that amazing sunrise! Spectacular!

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