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DEATH VALLEY

Updated: Jul 14, 2019



From Las Vegas to Pahrump, to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.


The Devil's Hole Pupfish are still here, sloshing around in the ancient mud puddle they've been sloshing around in since the dawn of time. They've got it pretty heavily fortified these days, looking sorta like the T-Rex cage in Jurassic Park or something. If you didn't know what lived in the hole, you'd probably be right to be a little wary. "What...is this place?...Oh it's just tiny fish, that's cool."


A variety of pupfish species exist around the globe, 120 different types, or so. They're all notable for their resiliency to extreme and isolated environments, and the 94 degree geothermal pool in a small fracture of rock at the base of a random hill in the heart of the Nevada desert certainly qualifies. The Devil's Hole is the only known home of the Devil's Hole Pupfish, who don't seem to mind one bit the hot tub-like temps or tight quarters. Both their stature and numbers are small, about an inch in length, population hovering somewhere in the low hundreds, the latter making them one of, if not the, world's rarest fish. They've been sloshing around here for upwards of 60,000 years (!), and although they can't get out, they have everything they need.



Under stormy afternoon skies, long shadows begin to creep across the Death Valley sand dunes. There's magic here, I'm convinced of it.



It's a bit of a schlep to reach the Charcoal Kilns at Wildrose. Car schlep, though. Pretty interesting place.


Back in the day they used to mine ore from the nearby mountains. In order to extract the good stuff from the ore - silver, mainly - they had to smelt it, basically, in layman terms, heating it super hot. To get a fire hot enough to do that, they needed a highly efficient fuel, usually charcoal, which burns slower and hotter than wood. To make the charcoal, they needed an oven. Ergo, the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns.


Extractive metallurgy, deep in the heart of the Death Valley desert. Who'da thought?