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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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20 hours ago

Who loves to get up where the oxygen is thin??!! Mt. Langley is one of the many 14,000' peaks here in our backyard. If you are coming this way, make sure to check out the current guidelines and state regulations. www.bishopvisitor.com/covid/
#KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen
Thanks, @wanderlena82 for this awesome shot!
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Who loves to get up where the oxygen is thin??!! Mt. Langley is one of the many 14,000 peaks here in our backyard. If you are coming this way, make sure to check out the current guidelines and state regulations. https://www.bishopvisitor.com/covid/
#KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen 
Thanks, @wanderlena82 for this awesome shot!

Comment on Facebook Who loves to get up ...

I went up to 12,500 at Ski Apache in Ruidoso, N.M. My head nearly exploded.

Yep. I feel so amazing in high altitudes.

Very well done. I’ve never been over 12,000 and that just about ended me.

Why cant we post pics on this site anymore?

Been there a couple of times. Better than Whitney

Congratulations!

BEAUTIFUL

I like those kinds of places. You can get a natural high. I think I've been there before. Hope to get back there soon. <3

Badassery

Great photo! Looking great @ 14k+ ❤️

Definitely has a great view

...would have done it 40 years ago

How come females look so good after bagging a peak, but guys look tuckered out?

Mammoth parade starts at 11:00

Always head up to Whites Mountain for Ancient Bristol Cone Forest.

Awesome

Been up there.

My friend Jack McBroom from Hemet climbed the highest 14 peaks on California in about four and a half days. Not sure that is still the record but I know it was for awhile. Sports Illustrated did an article about him.

Hayden Pester adding this to our list

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2 days ago

In case you need to do a little reflecting today....

Thanks for the beautiful shot of Honeymoon Lake, @biffnix
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen #MaskWashDistance
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In case you need to do a little reflecting today.... 

Thanks for the beautiful shot of Honeymoon Lake, @biffnix  
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen #MaskWashDistance

Comment on Facebook In case you need to ...

So beautiful California gold 😊😊❤❤

Reflection pix are my fav 🤩

Oh my, unimaginable beauty! Stunning!

Beautiful

So where exactly is this lake?

Just amazing!

Beautiful

Incredible!

See you there 4ofjuly

Can’t wait to get back up there!

I love it!

I like that you can go there even when you aren't on a Honeymoon. Even single folks go there. <3

So which side is up? Lol Great shot 👌!

Maayan Damti

Gorgeous.

Can't wait for August 1st will be there a whole week

Absolutely beautiful

Sharp knife and a shave! Awesome.

That water is like glass!

How beautiful

Hot creek. Much good for skin! Be respectful of native americans!!!!

Amazing

Hopefully we'll be able to go up there Labor Day weekend.

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3 days ago

The night sky here sure is something magical. 😍

Thank you, @Pat Pester for this beautiful shot!
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen
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The night sky here sure is something magical. 😍

Thank you, @Pat Pester for this beautiful shot!
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen

Comment on Facebook The night sky here ...

Amazing! Don't see this very often!

The stars at night are beautiful. Miss them

Just beautiful. One of many reasons I love going there

Just spent 3 days there. Beautiful as always.

Missed my annual trip this past Memorial Day weekend, the beautiful Eastern Sierras Lake Sabrina South Lake etc were always so peaceful & tranquil to visit!

Absolutely amazing 😉

So beautifulth thanks for sharing 😊😊❤❤

13 days..... I We’ll be there!!!!

South Lake

This is at bishops??

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6 days ago

Happy Friday!! Ahhhhh, Big Pine Creek, looking sooooo good!
Thank you, @Pat Pester for the photo!
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Happy Friday!! Ahhhhh, Big Pine Creek, looking sooooo good!
Thank you, @Pat Pester for the photo!

Comment on Facebook Happy Friday!! ...

Beautiful!! I wish I would be there!!

Such breath taking beauty! I so 💙 the Sierra's, and have many awesome memories of my times there. Thanks for sharing! 🌞

I love second lake especially for the view of temple crag

Just magnificent!

Great picture love Bishop

I wish the same as you Mary!

Was up there last week. Weather was perfect. Hiked up to Chickenfoot while I was there.

Still having earthquakes?

Been there! Beautiful!

Wonderful picture

Spent fathers day week there

Love the Sierras.

Beautiful!

Remember doing this hike. Gorgeous

So beautiful

Headed that way soon! 🏕

Beautiful

Sure hope to get there soon.

Very peaceful setting.

Breathtaking

Beautiful

What a godly view. On the hwy. drive you can see Snow on top of Mount Whitney mountains, so awesome during in month of June when its hot

Mt. Sill ! Sally Spear Molé. Stephen Busch . Do remember climbing this mountain Stephen ? That was an adventure !

I used to live in the town of Big pine many years ago

I wish !!!

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7 days ago

We love seeing folks doing their part to #KeepInyoOpen by wearing their face coverings! #lovebishop
Thank you, Chris Bubser for Congress for this cool shot!
#visitbishop
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We love seeing folks doing their part to #KeepInyoOpen by wearing their face coverings!  #lovebishop
Thank you, Chris Bubser for Congress for this cool shot!
#visitbishop

Comment on Facebook We love seeing folks...

Thank you for doing your part. Just get used to it, we're in it for the long haul. It doesn't hurt to err on the side of caution. I would.

Best little town in the West. I hope you're all hanging in there. Stay safe so I can visit this fall!

I love Bishop because of it’s proximity to Death Valley and the Sierras. On a motorcycle!

A family hiking out in the mountains on a warm summer day..... with masks on. This has to be the stupidest photo on FB all day.

Ah, wearing a mask outdoors in the Sierra's. They're obeying their globalist masters. Good little sheep.

What a sad picture that this family appears to be out in the countryside ,away from people, wearing a mask..

You don’t need masks if you are outside hiking with your family.

Makes no sense to go up to the mountains for fresh mountain air just to breathe in your own co2

The masks with the exhale feature on it does not block your droplets from exiting and infecting the people around you.

That is not the Bishop I grew up in. We didn’t live in fear‼️ Bishop as lost it’s way. Sad fir a beautiful area ,

What time does the 4th of July parade start ?

masks are nonsense,, please stop

I really miss living there. Be back soon.

Enough of this bs. No way I would go hiking in the mtns and wear a mask. Just may as well stay in the cesspool known as LA County and breathe the air here with a mask on.

Hopefully the mask wearing works, cause the social distancing and all the sanitizing isn’t...

Wearing masks in fresh mountain air & sunshine. Just can't fix stupid.

More crying 😢 about wearing a mask. Pitiful little babies!!

Guess I won’t go this year👎

Jeeping this 4th of July!

More sheep

Looking good!

Yellow star,mask..same thing advocated by the same types of people.

No more masks.

Missing hometown

Lived in Bishop early 90's. Can't believe what houses cost there now!!!

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