Brownie Sam and Emmett Rosse, two Shoshone cowboys, stopped alongside this huge volcanic boulder in late October of 1932. It is a place where their ancestors had camped many times. The ancients had carved numerous symbols on this rock, they decided they would too. They stood on the backs of their horses and added their names to the record above the petroglyphs below.
The Jayhawkers are famous for their harrowing journey through the unexplored lands of Death Valley in 1849 on their way to reach the fabled gold fields of California’s Mother Lode. They made it, but only after burning their wagons and ditching some of their possessions. They are likely the first white people to set foot in the vast alkali valley and are credited for giving Death Valley its name.
Sometimes in the desert, you can find what you are looking for.
It was already dark by the time we started our drive out into the desert. The sky was completely overcast and the wind was howling. And after a few hours of driving on the highway, it started to rain. Light at first and then heavy and constant. We weren’t exactly looking forward to getting into camp late at night in a heavy rain. But that is what we did. And after more than an hour of driving down rocky dirt roads and navigating across sandy washes, we spotted a faint light off in the murky distance. Minutes later, we rolled into our friend’s camp. They had gotten there earlier in the day and were wisely already hunkered down in their tent. We buckled down in our truck for the night. Wind and rain rocked the truck for hours and made for a restless sleep.
There is a place way out in the backcountry of Death Valley National Park called Marble Bath. Actually, it is two places.
Why there are two Marble Baths is a bit of a mystery. The real Marble Bath is a narrow marble canyon that contains some potholes that usually hold water long after it rains (Sometimes these are called tinajas). This is the only semi-reliable source of water in an otherwise very arid stretch of country. They don’t call this Death Valley for nothing, ya’ know.
Back in 2000, we decided to hunt down a small rock shelter that a prospector built into the jumbo rocks of Joshua Tree National Park. We couldn’t find this place the first time, but were successful the second time out. What a neat little hidden spot it is. If you head out there, please respect the place and leave everything there for the next explorer to discover. Removing anything is illegal.