I decided to go backpacking in Death Valley with my brother. I went
to the Death Valley website and it talked about how people don't
realize how pretty it is BLAH BLAH BLAH
Hey Death Valley, if you are worried about people not treasuring the
natural beauty of your park, how about you not name it DEATH VALLEY?
I imagine the naming meeting.
Well, it is the hottest, lowest place in the country, what shall we name it?
Cactus Grotto? Sunset? Dune Park? No, I have a great name for a
tourist destination- Death Valley- that will make the people visit.
Anywho- It was a great trip to the valley of death.
The first night, we camp on sand dunes wondering whether we are
actually allowed and whether a ranger will wake (6 w's and 5- a's in
12 words, nice! i was tempted to write wanger) us in the middle of
The next day, we backpack up a canyon called Surprise Canyon.
(Surprise- it is freezing cold at the top of this canyon. But, I am
getting too far ahead of myself.)
We hike through a stream, clamber up boulders and hillsides, and enjoy
a cooling breeze. The sound of the breeze mixes with the flowing
water and it is hard to not be overcome by bliss.
At the halfway point, the river goes underground. We round a corner
and see two wild asses. (look, that is what Planet Earth called
them.) (I know that this is a family blog, so I will attempt to
describe the next course of events delicately). The male is feeling
amorous and tries to, well, you know. The female kicks him hard in
the, well, you know. We leave the donkeys to do their thing.
The trail then turns to jagged rock for the next half and we reach the
top of the hike happy that we have reached the top.
As we stop, I realize that not only is there snow on the ground (I
thought this was Death Valley) but it is also quite cold (go figure).
I had almost neglected to bring pants as the forecast had the low at
50 degrees. I had elected to bring them, but that was about the only
concession I made for cold weather. It is going to be a cold night.
As I ready myself for bed, I have certain, well, business to attend
to. (the business of pooping outdoors in the cold. not a good
business to go into it turns out. my parents would have been
severely disappointed if I had chosen that as a major. there just is
not a lot of demand. although, on the supply side of things, it is
almost endless, but I digress.) But, as it is freezing out
(literally), I hesitate until I can no longer (figuratively). It is
now dusk. I scramble up a rock strewn hill. I can just make out the
ground. I find a suitable seat. I inspect the area around the rock
for life, see none, and lower my pants to prepare for business.
I crouch down, about an inch from the rock.
I leap from the seat and bound down the uneven terrain all the time
with lowered pants. I am now very grateful that it is dusk. I am
sure that I would have otherwise made quite a spectacle for my
unsuspecting brother. I am not certain what it was that hissed at me.
It sounded like a combination of a rattle snake and a large cat. I
decide that that is what it must have been. A rattlecat. Think
Battle Cat with a rattle. (not a baby rattle- although that is an
awesome thought.) It is the closest that my butt has been to being
Next morning, we hike to an abandoned mining operation. I should have
been an archeologist. I am fascinated by looking at the remnants of a
place. Especially here. It is in the middle of nature. Abandoned
trucks, buildings, tools. All in a location that seems completely
inaccessible to everything not human or donkey. And oddest of all,
there is no sign of a scheduled retreat. The vehicles look in route
to the mine. The tool shed looks like people went to sleep for the
night, not like they left. It is the sort of eerie that is somehow
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