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First Place in the Mary Austin Prize for Writing contest
Naiya Luna Warren
Bishop High School

Death Valley – full of gyrating heat waves, dusty landscapes that last an eternity contrasted with intermittent blips of apricot mallow and occasional swaths of desert gold, and at night the whole galaxy spills out into the sky. To be in a place where the quiet is so saturating that you can hear your own blood pulsing and the slightest breeze through the mesquite trees sounds like a symphony is a truly magical experience. I often find that I yearn for this desolate solitude; that it nurtures me in a way that is comparable to nothing else.

On January 3rd my stepdad, mom and I set out for Butte Valley; one of the more remote areas of Death Valley nestled in the far southeast corner. Following the narrow and rugged Warm Spring Canyon Road we passed stark talc mines, craggy canyons, and intensely compressed rock terrain marked sporadically by the tell-tale evidence that burros had been there. Even with my stepdad’s four-wheel drive, the rough road could only safely be traversed at times by a deliberate creeping rock crawl that caused the vehicle to buck, and it felt as though this was the longest drive I had ever experienced. Eventually, the road gave way to a vast brush-covered valley and rising magnificently was Striped Butte; our destination, the Geologist’s Cabin, was close.

Upon reaching the cabin, we raised the flag to signal to anyone who may be near that the camp spot was occupied. After helping unpack our gear, I trekked up a nearby hill and perched atop a boulder, in awe of the expansiveness of the surrounding desert. It’s often perceived as being plain brown, but it is deep purple and tan and sunny yellow and vibrant orange and chestnut with striations of silver. In the distance I noticed burros meandering along well-worn trails and overhead crows flew high. As the sun cast its evening rays of liquid gold, highlighting the collection of Striped Butte’s hues, we huddled up next to the fireplace and roasted marshmallows.

At this point, the main act of Butte Valley’s production was introduced: the night sky. The temperature had dropped significantly, so after covering in many layers I went outside and gazing up I fell deep into the glittering heavens. The Milky Way spilled its celestial contents across the hemisphere, and I had a revelation of just how strongly the stars affect me. I am captivated, and I am acutely aware in this moment that there is a distinct parallel between the broadness and infinite possibility of space and the remote expanse of Death Valley.

Jostling me from my trance I was alerted by the sound of a very heavy creature walking uncomfortably close by. My flashlight beam revealed a burro staring at me, dead in the eye. We remained in this position for only a second, but at that moment I wondered what that burro had seen. I wondered if it looked at the stars with the same mysterious elation that I felt; if it wandered aimlessly around Striped Butte without a care in the world, if it felt fear. As if to answer my question, the burro glanced upward towards the firmament, and trod away. I walked back into the cabin, pondering the events that had taken place, and was met with a wall of heat from the fireplace. I crashed nearly as soon as I nestled into my sleeping bag, a testament to the minuscule, yet profound experience that had just occurred.

At dawn, we trekked along the ridge of Striped Butte. Upon reaching the Butte’s summit, I located the hiker-log and memorialized my journey by signing the book. I considered the many pages of names and felt strongly that each person had experienced their own personal awakening. I gazed at the entirety of the valley with a wonderment reserved for gazing at the stars. Death Valley has always held a special place in my heart, and this trip to the Butte Valley, while short, will forever stay emblazoned in my memory.

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22 hours ago

What's your favorite season in the Eastern Sierra?

Beautiful photo by @robert_lachman from October 12, 2019
#keepbishopsafe
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Whats your favorite season in the Eastern Sierra? 

Beautiful photo by @robert_lachman from October 12, 2019
#keepbishopsafe

Comment on Facebook

I go every year! 2nd or 3rd week of October! Beautiful scenery and weather!

Fall

I was raised on the Eastern side of the Sierras. When I was young it was Summers. When I got a little older it was Spring for the opening of trout season. Now at 73 it's Fall...😊

Nice One!

Fall when leaves change and late summer when tubing in cut off’s by day with jeans and flannel by the fire at night

I have to say mid to late fall. Although mid spring is awesome as well. ✌️

Fall

Beautiful picture

Fall is the best...but the other 3 run a close 2nd!

Yes! 😅😁

We from Bishop

Fall🍁🍂🎃

Gorgeous

FALL...used to go up from L.A. EVERY OCT.

Autumn and Winter

Spring

Anything but fire season 😭

Love the fall leave. We try to go every year in October

Fall by far! I love the colors. We try to go every year in October for my husband's birthday.

In Bishop all of them. Bishop picture love this site 🙂🙂❤❤

So pretty

Beautiful

Fall

Fall for sure. Before the snow shuts the roads. And early summer. When it is just a little cooler. 🐈😷

Beautiful!

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3 days ago

With fires, poor air quality and COVID-19 all currently going on, who needs a little something to look forward to??
How about Wynonna for Labor Day Weekend of 2021!!
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With fires, poor air quality and COVID-19 all currently going on, who needs a little something to look forward to?? 
How about Wynonna for Labor Day Weekend of 2021!!

Comment on Facebook

Lol whatever floats your boat Bishop. With way things are we might be in a middle of some other bs that will shut it down. I’m done hoping and waiting for “better” times to come.

its sept 21??!!

Can’t wait!!

oh next yr ugh

Looks like she needs an enema !

Mary Allegra Nicol

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6 days ago

Wishing all of the firefighters and emergency support teams a safe weekend. Thank you for all that you are doing!!!

Sending love from Bishop to all who are being affected by the fires. ❤️

This photo by Instagram user @sammyzz17 and is from February of 2018 when we had the Pleasant Valley Reservior Fire. Hoping that he and his crew are safe!
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Wishing all of the firefighters and emergency support teams a safe weekend. Thank you for all that you are doing!!! 

Sending love from Bishop to all who are being affected by the fires. ❤️

This photo by Instagram user @sammyzz17 and is from February of 2018 when we had the Pleasant Valley Reservior Fire. Hoping that he and his crew are safe!

Comment on Facebook

🙏God Bless you all. I have been praying for rain to help put all the fires out and is in the forecast for some areas yeh!

God Bless all of you amazing men and women fighting these horrible fires. Stay safe!🙏❤️👩‍🚒👩‍🚒👍

Thanks guys!! Hope you all stay safe and return home to your families soon!!! Bless you all❤️

Wonderful pic.of these brave Firefighters! Prayers for their safety! 🙏🏻💕🙏🏻

Thank you to ALL FF's and Incident Command crews, Strike Teams busting butt out there. Love & prayers for All Your Safety from Santa Rosa 💜😷🐈

🙏 to all the first responders and thank you for your hard work.

Thank you Bishop firefighters for all of your extremely hard work!

A big Thank You To All Our Firefighters God Bless You And Your Families Stay Safe

Sending love and prayers from the Florida Panhandle. Be Safe! God Bless you and yours!

Thank you for your service. and God Bless You All .

God be with you all. Thank fort doing what you do

What a commitment! Thank you! Your work can never be repaid!!!

God bless you boys! Please stay safe!

Thank you God bless and stay safe

God Bless you all🙏☮️

Thank you all for what you do for us everyday 💗

Stay safe 🚒😊👍🏼

Amen

Ty

👊👍🤙😎🙏

Thanks to all the firefighters out in California, Oregon & Washington who work tirelessly everyday ❗️❗️. You are true heroes❗️

This is a spectacular photo, a real prizewinner! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks never were more than a few brave people

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7 days ago

To any of our Inyo County residents....Please take a minute, if you haven’t yet, to sign up for the Inyo County emergency alerting system, CodeRED. This will ensure that if there is a local emergency such as an evacuation notice or missing child report that you will be notified. Stay safe and stay informed!
Click on this link to sign up:
public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/DAD807D480BF

📷 by John Paul DeRousseau
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To any of our Inyo County residents....

Comment on Facebook

Jack Lila McKinney just making sure your signed up ❤️

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