Sudden Lake: A Death Valley Wonder

Water is back in the famously dry national park, at least for a time.

DRIEST, HOTTEST, LOWEST... WETTEST? When you drive into Death Valley National Park with a group of friends, it can be tempting to play a few silly, pass-the-time games in the car, the kind of games that enhance any road trip through a large expanse of land. One such game might be to think of places, things, or concepts that are lower, hotter, and drier than the arid landscape you're entering. Is a piece of toast without butter drier than Death Valley? Is the surface of the sun hotter? Is the deepest trench in the ocean lower? No one ever said that road trip guessing games were serious, but something has emerged in Death Valley which seems so fictional that it might belong to a light-hearted guessing game and not the real world. It's Lake Manly, an actual span of water, as in H20, as in the moist stuff, inside the parched park. Thanks to a drencher of a recent autumn storm, water appeared in the spot where an ancient lake once stood. But while exceedingly cool, this isn't the first time this has happened in this epoch or even in the last few years; Lake Manly has reappeared following especially stormy events, and the snapshot of kayakers out on the desert lake back in 2005 made headlines near and far.

CALL IT A FINE CHANCE... to admire a phenomenon rarely seen around the country's largest national park (largest in the contiguous United States, that is). It's also a way to peer back through the veils of time, back to before the last ice age called it a day, when a lake existed in Death Valley, one that was "roughly 80 miles long and 800 feet deep." Whoa. As for kayaking on this newest version of the old lake? A fan asked the park if he might show with his vessel, to which the park responded with "I don't see why not," though the water is described as not all that deep. 

AS FOR THE LAKE'S NAMESAKE? That would be William L. Manly, an original D.V. pioneer back in the 1800s. If you're also keen to know more about the people who passed through this epic stretch back in the middle of the 19th century, the annual Death Valley '49ers Encampment trots into the area in the middle of November.

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