There was so much to write on the last blog that the story of the name of the valley had to be moved to this blog. So here it is. The California Gold Rush brought the first people of European descent known to visit the immediate area. In December 1849, two groups of California Gold Country-bound white travelers with perhaps 100 wagons total stumbled into Death Valley after getting lost on what they thought was a shortcut off the Old Spanish Trail. Called the Bennett-Arcane Party, they were unable to find a pass out of the valley for weeks; they were able to find fresh water at various springs in the area, but were forced to eat several of their oxen to survive. After abandoning their wagons, they eventually were able to hike out of the valley. Just after leaving the valley, one of the women in the group turned and said, “Goodbye Death Valley,” giving the valley they endured its name.
The first two pictures are of the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. If they look familiar, it might be because they used this area to film the first Star Wars movie when R2D2 leaves C3P0 after their pod crashes on Tatooine. We did not have time to hike in there, but we enjoyed the view. Why did we not have time you might ask? We had a flat tire on the rental car the night before and had an afternoon appointment in Pahrump, Nevada (an hour and 15 minutes one way) to get it replaced.
The next 8 pictures are from Mosaic Canyon. The first picture shows the beginning of the canyon which is all marble. Absolutely beautiful. The in and out hike is all uphill on the way in which led to better and better views. The last 2 pictures are from the ghost town Rhyolite — a one time booming town of 15,000 where they mined rhyolite. The Goodwill Open Air Museum is there and we got to see a sculpture called the “Rhyolite Last Supper” which was completed in 1985 by Poland-born Belgian sculptor Albert Szukalski. He used residents from nearby Bodie to make it, putting plaster-soaked burlap on live models until the plaster dried enough to stand on its own. The other statue is called “Tribute to Shorty Harris”, a prospector whose discovery in 1904 led to a gold rush.