Prepare for Death |
Cowboy mystique cannot be achieved by traveling the beaten path.
I would argue, however, that there are mountain lions, black widows (not to mention tarantulas), scorpions and rattle snakes off the beaten path. If you had never seen a desert before and had decided to hike Death Valley alone, then you would be a little wary, too.
At this point I should offer an apology to M.Sto because I told her that I was going to Death Valley with a friend. I’m sorry M.Sto, but you would have flipped your wig. Obviously I took the proper safety precautions. Also, don’t you forget that I am pretty good with a bo staff, so there was no reason to worry. (Not that I had a bo staff, but I definitely could have used tumbleweed.) Anyway, I thought I’d save you the stress. I will understand if you would like to buy me a present to reward my thoughtfulness.
M.Sto wasn’t the only one who was worried. A few days before I left for Death Valley one of my guy friends IM-ed me: “Little girl, you need a man with you,” he said. Since I have never been hiking with a guy before, usually choosing to go with my friend Heather, I didn’t see the importance of having a guy along this time, or any time, for that matter. Traveling alone is an interesting adventure in itself, especially when you are going off into the wilderness and not to some city (arguably less safe: see crime rate) where you stay in a hotel and eat things like “brunch.” Yes, there is something important about traveling alone, and, given the current state of a world, not being afraid to do so. Traveling alone to Death Valley? Well, that’s a higher level of adventure and I certainly wasn’t going to give that up for the false security of having another person around.
The first thing you should know about Death Valley, (after how many creepy crawlies are out to poison you,) is that portions of the original Star Wars were filmed there. That’s right; I may have walked the same Tatooine paths as the beloved R2D2. BTW: That does not make me C3PO, for the record. More like… Han Solo.
The second thing you should know about
Darth Death Valley is that you are not allowed to feed the coyotes. Not even if they stand in the middle of the road until you either feed them or mow them over. (They don’t seem to mind your car being an inch from their deceptively cute snouts.)
The park makes sure you are well aware of this rule by plastering laminated “Don’t Feed the Coyotes” signs on every flat surface. These signs are only printed in English so that anyone who speaks another language is forced to look at the drawing on the sign: A hand with food next to a coyote. Wait, this drawing says I should feed the coyotes? No comprendo, fools.
Where there is not a flat surface to be found the park is forced to improvise. I don’t know what kind of idiot would feed a coyote or need that many signs to remind them not to do so. Probably the same person who needs a “watch your step” sign right next to a huge volcanic crater. They should simply post a sign at the entrances to the park saying “Death Valley Left." Anyone lacking common sense would immediate turn around and go home as the park would have obviously "left" for a better location. This technique of weeding out idiots was first developed by the Romans and is always extremely successful. This technique would also render all other signs in the park unnecessary and the 5% of non-wilderness material in the park would go down to .5403754907509347803%. (Signs being the greater part of the non-wilderness material, you see.)
The final thing that you should know about Death Valley, which also may answer the question of why the hell I would want to go there, is that each location in Death Valley has a badass name, not to mention the badass name of the park itself:
Badwater, Badlands, Devil’s Racecourse… You are already scared. I can tell. And you should be: It’s like Mordor up in there. Well, except prettier. And not as lava-ish. And, although there is no “great eye,” I did see a rock outcrop on the side of a mountain that naturally formed a skull. I pointed this out to another hiker. He proceeded to flip out and then the sand sucked him under. I tried to take a photo of the skull, but my camera melted from it's pure evil so I threw my bo staff at it and ran--
I digress. Let me rewind so that you may better understand my expectations heading out to DV and the experiences that I did (or did not) have while staying there.
Part Two | Part Three | Photo Album
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