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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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11 hours ago

Are you spending your Sunday relaxing, doing something you love, or sharing it with someone special? Wishing you a beautiful day!
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Are you spending your Sunday relaxing, doing something you love, or sharing it with someone special? Wishing you a beautiful day!
#visitbishop

 

Comment on Facebook

So love bishop My late husband spent every holiday except Christmas there with our motorhome So many wonderful memories

Love the beautiful starry skies..

I'm spending my day wishing I was there. It's good to have goals! 🥰

My retirement goal!

Love it up there

Oh gosh I have so many wonderful memories of sitting by a lake or creek or river up in Bishop. ❤️

Yep. My bride of 42 years & I just returned from a week’s long visit to Bishop. We can’t wait to go back!

I lived there for 14 years. One of my boys was born there. Truly miss the Eastern Sierra. Bishop was special and still is.

Just got home from spending 4 absolutely grand days there!! Loved every minute looking forward to the next trip!

I want to go back and visit

Mt. Goode from Long Lake

Marlena Leister

when ever I drive thru Bishop I know I'm getting close to home and when I stop in Bishop it's usually to rest for a day and relax.

Paradise

Cesar Sanchez

No but some day maybe

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1 day ago

Checking the view from one of our favorite trees. Yup, another beautiful day in Bishop 😍.
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Checking the view from one of our favorite trees. Yup, another beautiful day in Bishop 😍.
#visitbishop

 

Comment on Facebook

That tree in the fall is one of my favorite spots

Beautiful.oak tree!!!!!

It’s a great place to visit

It is beautiful 🤩

I forgot, when does it start cooling off up there? Is it September or October? I want to visit (when I can), but I'd prefer in one of the cooler, mild seasons (like Fall or Spring).

Was just there !!

California

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2 days ago

How many of you are familiar with these old buildings south of Olancha? Well, here's a little history about them:Motorists traveling on El Camino Sierra about 14 miles south of Olancha, have probably noticed the ruins of a few dilapidated rock buildings with accompanying other small structures and mobile homes on the west side of the highway. This would be Dunmovin. First known as Cowan's Station, it served as a way station for the Cerro Gordo feight wagons, a supply center for nearby mines, a work camp for LADWP construction workers and finally as a gas station, garage, motel and cafe for travelers on El Camino Sierra. When Charles and Hilda King purchased the property in 1936, Hilda was relieved to finally be "settled down" and renamed the property as Dunmovin...according to this little poem credited to Hilda. "We’ve moved from yon to hither Now we’re set and provin In all the world we are perhaps The only folks dunmovin" Like many such establishments, fuel efficient and more reliable cars spelled the end of Dunmovin. It closed for good in the early 1970s...and now stands as a sentimental reminder of times gone by along El Camino Sierra. Thank you for following us on Facebook if you enjoy our posts, and for sharing them with others you think may enjoy them. We sincerely appreciate it! ... See MoreSee Less

How many of you are familiar with these old buildings south of Olancha? Well, heres a little history about them:

 

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Me, driving to a Bishop, many times. Also Crystal Springs Water, too!,

Wow I never knew this existed. Going to have to check this out on my next visit. Thanks for the new adventure.

Great place to visit

At the top of the Dunmovin grade is the turnoff to Haiwee Power Plant. I worked there for a year from the summer of '78. The Espee spur line from Mojave to Lone Pine was still in operation with weekly (?) peddler freights headed to town. The China Lake Weapons Center conducted aerial operations all up and down the Paniment and Owens Valleys including strafing runs over the dam. Loved that year. I'll never forget it

Great info!

Love the history! We always chuckled at the name of Dunmovin but didn’t know the history.

Can't swear to it, but I think I remember passing those as a kid in the 50s, maybe 60s, and they were occupied?

My parents use to be friends with some people who lived there/owned it. Cant remember his name, but I believe he was a Lawyer...

HAHA--I TOLD you Tim Alls!!! ;0 LOL

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2 days ago

Nature is incredible... Photo of Norman Clyde Peak and Glacier (or what’s left of it) reflected in a small tarn at 11,600ft elevation in the South Fork of Big Pine Creek.
Thanks @deserth2o for the photo!!
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Nature is incredible... Photo of Norman Clyde Peak and Glacier (or what’s left of it) reflected in a small tarn at 11,600ft elevation in the South Fork of Big Pine Creek. 
Thanks @deserth2o for the photo!!
#visitbishop

 

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Always beautiful scenery

Awesome 😎

,BEAUTIFUL AREA

We used to live there. We could look out our window and see it every day

Home Sweet Home

Beautiful

Been there when glacier filled this valley in late summer and fall. Sad to see them melt away

Great picture. Norman Clyde was one incredible men of history. Had an interesting life. Wonder if his story is being told in schools today? One case where truth is much better than fiction. <3

Ryan Johnson

Cesar Sanchez

Jana Weaver

Niki Hansen-Daniel

Next time? Jorge Vargas

California

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watermelon_snow

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4 days ago

This is the view from the top of Mt. Tom, in case you have ever wondered what it’s like up there. Many of us love this majestic mountain, but will never see the summit in person. @tarahhnasaurus is a single mom who is achieving her goals and inspiring us. Thank you for the photo!!!
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This is the view from the top of Mt. Tom, in case you have ever wondered what it’s like up there. Many of us love this majestic mountain, but will never see the summit in person. @tarahhnasaurus is a single mom who is achieving her goals and inspiring us. Thank you for the photo!!! 
#visitbishop

 

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Full value, great day.

Congrats Lady!

Always wanted to climb Mt.Tom! Closest I came was living on Mt. Tom Rd!

Outstanding !!!!!!

Great view from up there.

Yes! Thanks for sharing.

Amazing!

Thanks for sharing!! Hiked up to Horton lakes about 40 years ago wanted to keep going, but my buddy’s didn’t

Beautiful but way to High for me😳☺ I don't do high things that well☺

Nice😎

Doug Foley and I climbed Tom back in the 80's. My Ma used to live in Rovana.

thanks for posting this beautiful picture...I don't think I have ever seen a picture from the top of Mt. Tom Kudos to you !

I have been there (as well as on top of Humphreys) and I can attest, the view is sublime! The rock skiing to get down is quite entertaining as well!

I want to go there

Mt Tom was the first summit I did as a teen. Until I climbed it I imagined that I'd look down onto Fresno. I was really surprised to see so many more mountains on the other side.

My oldest maternal cousin met his fate on the flanks of Mt. Tom.

Climbed to the top with Skye and Scotty on Dara’s 50th BD! It was awesome! What a view!

Rachael Nicole Banton this is the peak we see when we hike George like

Single mom, with many "friends " to take her places

Way to go lady!!! You ROCK!! 👍

Any rock climbing with that? Lol! I'd like to try it if it's non-technical. Some boulder scrambling is expected but I'd have to train to readjust to that altitude.

Wow

Matt Cunningham

Cody

💪💪 Appears taller than Ragged Mountain in Penobscot County, Maine.

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