Friday, October 15, 2004

It was estimated to have been first settled roughly 10,000 years ago, by nomadic hunters. And approximately 2000 years ago, the same terrain was inhabited by native peoples who lived along the edge of a 30-foot-deep lake, hunting smaller game than their predecessors and gathering seed.

In 1849, a small group of gold rush pioneers entered into this same valley, thinking it was a short cut to California. After barely surviving the trek across this area, these pioneers named the spot "Death Valley"... and the name has remained the same through today.

Despite its severe summer temperatures, the Valley continues to attract visitors from all over the world. [During my recent cycling through the heart of the Valley with colleagues, the majority of the visitors we met were either from England or Germany.] As one travel guide claims, "Within the park, you will find some of the most surreal landscapes on the globe - including sinuous sand dunes that ripple into the horizon, shimmering white salt flats, intricately contoured badlands riddled with rushing water, striking copper-colored canyon walls, and even a massive hydrovolcanic blast crater..."

And despite all that [and the wonderful visit and tour my colleagues and I had through it], it forever remains known as the imfamous "Death Valley."

Perhaps this is why I enjoy backpacking so much. For regardless of my trek and experience, Nature remains relatively [as my colleague Keith would say] "unaffected by my presence." Regardless of name and reputation, Nature's essence in Death Valley remains alive and thriving. In some areas, you may have to look more closely for the drought-resistant desert holly or the salt-resistant pickleweed, but is most definitely alive and resistant to whatever name we choose to give it or any portion we choose to inhabit within it. Perhaps we humans could learn this wonderful lesson from this seemingly lifeless valley.

While others may view us by particular names, titles or images, we still have the best understanding of who we are. Our proverbial waters may run deep and unseen, but we are each alive and thriving. We each have vibrant colors, rushing waters and ominuous sand dunes of our personality. Nothing can, nor should change that. Each person we meet is who they are - badlands, salt flats, sand dunes, majestic peaks and lush oasis. It just depends on when you experience them. Regardless, they are alive and thriving - just as you are - in their own unique natural way.


Post Note: What is the one thing I learned from the Valley itself? Respect. You don't have to understand or even appreciate the Valley and its existence, but when you are in its elements, you best respect it and its vitality... especially if you are biking across it in 100-degree temperatures...

hoedl's haven
All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2003