I go to weird places.
Thats pretty self evident if you’ve been following this blog for a bit, from wandering around space ship shaped houses , taking a sunset stroll alonside abandoned factories and exploring old gold mining towns . I come from and love cities but there’s something about reaching out towards the left behind that I genuinely can’t get enough of.
Which is why when I started making plans for Death Valley I was incredibly excited about the prospect of not only seeing a park i’ve been dreaming of seeing since I was a child (yup, I was an odd kid) there was also the thrill of getting a chance to explore some abandoned towns and structures here in this most desolate of places. Since we only had one full day here in the park, there’s a couple of places I decided to leave for another visit to give us the time to make it out to the two places I most wanted to see, Rhyolite and Skidoo.
So lemme start with the fact that technically, if you’re headed out here just for the idea of exploring the ghost town of Skiddo, it doesn’t exist. There are no standing buildings or structures that belonged to the town, and the area where the town used to be only has a placard in place of anything else to see. I figure it would be good to say that, and most guidebooks will tell you the same because getting out here is a real….adventure. Definitely do not attempt if you’ve only got a sedan type vehicle and weak knees. Best case scenario would be attempting this if you’ve got a 4WD high clearance vehicle and guts of steel for when the dirt path called a road starts to climb up into the mountains and your eyes inadvertently gaze down into the valley below. We were somewhere in the middle of those scenarios, my stomach knotted up but fingers tightly gripping my camera as we rounded those curves in our much abused Jeep.
We reached the mill around 1130am, the sun climbing hotter and hotter up into the blazing sapphire tinted sky and even with all the directions i’d amassed from various guidebooks and websites ( here’s one ) we still only managed to make it to the mill by accident, and then we decided to backtrack down to attempt making it up a steeper hill opposite the mill to get a better view of it. A bumpy 10 minute drive later we’d crested over the hills, so far up that far off to our left we could see the shimmer of salty basins below. The whole ride up and around and over, we were completely alone. No signs of life whatsoever, from humans or animals alike, and sitting up there eating our lunch while gazing out at the abandoned stamp mill below and the gentle peaks surrounding us, it was the one moment of complete solitude that I experienced on the whole trip and it was magnificent.
(This is going to be a two-parter because there’s still something to be said for the town and the surrounding area thats a chilling kind of haunting, the doors to mine shafts popping up all over the landscape like little portals to darkness, and then there’s the closer look at the stamp mill I managed to get as well. )