10 Jul Inspiration Found in Isolation — DEVA #4
While Death Valley is known for its lowest point and highest temperatures in the valley itself, the park is actually much more than just the dry desert. It expands to over three million acres, and covers a number of mountain ranges where most of my summer work has taken place. These mountain ranges have become my favorite part of my internship for their diversity and affront to the typical image of Death Valley. Not to mention—I can’t access them on my own time!
Many of the places where limber and bristlecone pines are in mountain ranges which require high-clearance, 4×4 vehicles to reach (compare to: my Honda civic hatchback). Not to mention, to truly explore some of these places, you’d need to camp or backpack. In addition to lacking the proper vehicle type, I don’t have the basics to camp either, so I am very grateful to be provided with gear to work in and experience the backcountry. I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to go to these isolated places and actively learn in the field.
Last week, I revisited the Grapevine mountains. This time, the sky was clear, weather warm but not hot, and many angiosperms had passed their flowering point and begun fruiting. After a rigorous off-trail hike around multiple mounds and saddles, we’d reached Grapevine peak where we surveyed a handful of limber pine trees and took our lunch. I’d like to call the peak Ladybug Kingdom instead, because they swarmed us the entire time! In addition to the cool plants and varying health of the pines, I wrote my name on the peak’s register as my first ever bagged peak. Check out that bag—kachow!
National parks serve to inform and conserve for future generations to enjoy; a visitor center, wayside, hiking trail, or scenic roads exemplify this well, but for me, the best part of going to a park was going to the areas untouched by man. Being in the backcountry has reminded me of that childlike, adventurous feeling as we uncover its many botanical secrets that still have yet to be unearthed.