Sand Mountain in Fallon, Nevada. Creative Commons – Rick Cooper
Voices Across the Ages – Desert Sands
Ancient voices had fallen into the sands of the desert
As if each grain is a word in its own right
I hear them often when Grandfather Sun has gone beyond the mountain
And Grandmother Moon rises high in the night
Many times the words are all scattered into only sounds
Sounds that have no meaning, as if lost ages ago
When the winds come up there seems to be a change in the sands
Words become a voice with a message for one alone
A message of wisdom that is much needed at the right moment
Where is the one I love, who should be by my side?
Be patient, the sand words carry the voice to me
Be strong, have faith and flow with the tide
All is as it should be, Great Spirit knows all
And the divine plan is working to bring you together
From far away he will come, to be with you once more
As once you held him, you will again forever
I sit in the darkness and listen as tears flow
Many lives the love has been there, pure and sweet
Voices across the ages tell me it is so
Love is eternal when true love, twin souls meet
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My poem is to symbolize the mystery of the desert and ancient wisdom from the earliest of people in this land. I love the quiet desert where I live in Nevada. It is a land of mystery, beauty and romance. The desert is a very spiritual place for me.
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Following is information on some Nevada deserts.
Amargosa Desert ~
The Amargosa lies between the northern Great Basin and southern Mojave deserts. Amargosa Desert is right next to the California border and Death Valley on the west. Yucca Mountain and Nellis Air Force Range is to the east.
The Amargosa River runs through this desert. The 185 mile long river drains the high desert into the Mojave Desert and on into Death Valley where it disappears underground into an aquifer. Most of the river runs underground, except when a flash flood occurs.
Amargosa Desert is home to the Ash Meadows habitat, which is part of the much larger 1.5 million acre Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was created in June of 1984. It protects an extremely rare desert oasis in Nye County, southwestern Nevada.
Crystal Spring ~
Crystal Spring in the Amargosa Desert, an extremely rare desert oasis in the Southwestern United States. Creative Commons – Stan Shebs
Devils Hole in the Amargosa Desert ~
This 23,000 acre refuge also contains the Amargosa Pupfish Station. The pupfish is on the IUCN Red List of endangered species. Devils Hole is the original pupfish habitat and is located in the refuge it is one of the most restricted habitats in the world.
Devils Hole is located in the Amargosa Desert, but is maintained by the National Park Service as part of the Death Valley National Park. The opening to Devils Hole is only 6 by 18 feet, but leads into deep caverns, at least 300 feet beneath the ground. Geologists believe the limestone caves are over 500,000 years old. The saline waters of the geothermal pool stay at a temperature of around 92 degrees F.
Black Rock Desert ~
The Black Rock Desert is 300,000 acres of land consisting of silt playa and over 120 miles of historic emigrant trails that led early settlers to California. It lies 100 miles north of Reno in the northern Nevada area of the Great Basin.
This desert area is a dry remnant of the ancient Lake Lahontan of the Pleistocene era (2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago). There is evidence that humans have lived in the area since about 11,000 BC. The northern Paiute people settled Black Rock Desert in 1300 BC.
The cone-shaped black rock outcrop is called Black Rock Point and can be seen in the photo below. It was a landmark for the Paiute and much later by emigrants traveling across the desert. At the base of the outcrop is a grass filled meadow containing a large hot spring.
Black Rock Point, a landmark for emigrants. Creative Commons – Ikluft
The playa in Black Rock Desert is a watershed ~
The playa is a watershed that covers 11,600 sq miles. If shallow water stands on the surface of the playa for at least a month tiny fairy shrimp hatch from eggs that have been dormant in the silt crust for years. Since this is a migratory zone for birds, over 250 species will stop in the Black Rock-High Rock Country and feed off the fairy shrimp.
The Humboldt River is the fifth largest river in the United States in terms of discharge that does not flow all the way to the ocean. Over 15,000 years ago the Humboldt flowed through Black Rock Desert sub-basin. When the waters of Lake Lahontan began receding the river changed course and flowed to the Carson Desert subbasin.
The Black Rock lakebed was under approximately 500 feet of water when the waters of Lahontan were at their highest level. The sediment on the bottom accumulated and formed the flat lakebed which is now the playa.
The Columbian Mammoth once roamed through the prehistoric Lake Lahontan. The fossil of one of these giants was found along the edge of the lakebed in 1979.
Black Rock Desert showing the playa (alkali flats) and the Calico Mountains beyond. Creative Commons – Raquel Baranow
Burning Man festival in Black Rock Desert ~
The Burning Man festival in Black Rock Desert is a well-known event that attracts thousand of people each year.
The night sky becomes invisible far above the blazing flames of Burning Man and the playa is lit up like it was daytime when the highlight of the festival occurs on a Saturday night. The playa is home to the annual Burning Man festival which is held from the last Monday in August to the first Monday in September.
The structure of the burning man is usually about forty feet tall. It is simply called “The Man” by attendees. Every attendee tries to outdo others with costume creations. Many people wear some pretty wild costumes, or very little, and sometimes nothing at all except a headdress.
Burning Man from the 2004 festival. Creative Commons – Aaron Logan
Forty Mile Desert ~
The Forty Mile Desert lies in Lahontan Valley where the prehistoric Lake Lahontan once teemed with an abundance of fish, fowl and other wildlife before it became a dry lakebed of uninhabited desert.
The name Forty Mile Desert came from the California Gold Rush days. Emigrants travelled the California Trail west along the Humboldt River to the point where it forked to the Carson River or the Truckee River. Emigrants could take either trail, but the Forty Mile Desert still lay ahead of them.
At the junction of I-80 and US 95 there is a historical marker noting this desert as the worst section of the California Trail. If travelers in those early days of the mid 1800s could travel across at night they stood a little better chance of surviving, for ahead of them was forty miles with no usable water due to the alkaline soil.
According to an 1850 survey 953 emigrant graves and lost hopes of the dead line the trail. Their long ago dreams and joys now linger as voices across the ages in the whispering sands.
Great Basin Desert ~
Between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch (Utah) mountain ranges lies the Great Basin Desert. It is immense – it covers most of Nevada and stretches into western Utah, eastern California and southeast Idaho, with a very small part in southeast Oregon.
Temperatures in the desert are moderate with hot dry summers and snow in the winter. The terrain ranges from low valley salt flats to mountains with 33 peaks above 9,800 feet. It is high desert country where most of the lowest elevations are above 3,900 feet.
The biological diversity of the desert is drastic, from alkaline soil where very little grows, to zones where sagebrush and grasses thrive, through woodlands with Pinyon pines and juniper, on up to the higher elevations where the ancient bristlecone pines exist, the finally up to the alpine zone above the treeline.
Bristlecone Pine Grove in the higher levels of the Great Basin. Public Domain.
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