Last time we visited Silver Lake I was looking for its outflow point to the north where its waters entered the Death Valley basin long, long ago during the last ice age.
I knew where it was from a US Geolical Survey hand-drawn map I saw on the internet, but missed it driving the dirt road on the north because I was headed for the lowest point on that road: mistake.
The outflow point is, in fact, at one of the higher points along that road, what matters is how high the terrain rises beyond that road, not the road itself.
So, to re-orient you, here is what we saw of Silver lake the same day I walked the outflow:
To orient yourself on the satellite image below, note that Interstate highway 15 is the line coming in from the right, and where it hits the dark rock mass it has just passed baker, lying to its north, and soda lake to its south (with a few blue areas indicating water at the time of the satellite photo).
At that same place, straight north of the black line and soda lake, there is a light area with a slightly darker smudge: that is silver lake (dry). It appears as if there is a drainage along the right margin of the lake that ends at some darker rock to the north, then the drainage continues north about ten miles, makes a left turn in front of some dark rock, where the amargosa river drainage meets it coming from the north, both turn west, then north, to enter death valley as one river, the amargosa river.
following the white flow-channel deposits is generally a good way to see where the water also goes when there is surface flow. the light-bluish-green narrow channel in the very center on the very top of the image below is the amargosa river coming from the north, the small greenish tributary coming in from the right is the canyon from china ranch, a date-palm ranch. the river then moves through amargosa canyon (click here to go there) and turns west before going back to the north, into death valley
Now we drive to the north end of silver lake and park just off the highway. the town of baker lies behind the lake's far southern shore:
note that the car seems to be at about the same elevation as the high water marks (lighter colored materials below darker materials) on the small mountain ridge in the background
the ancient shoreline, from pleistocene time (our last ice age), is more clearly visible on the opposite shore:
So, where do we see an exit from this lake for when the water-level gets that high (and baker no longer exists)? here (looking back to the lake and its powerlines)!
and here, looking north toward the silurian valley and the dumont sand dunes. salt creek is the name given to this drainage as it picks up other drainages as tributaries in SILURIAN valley below.
So, we are walking in a formation that is only used during ice ages, and thus hasn't seen lake-water flow through it since about 10,000 years ago!
iS that exciting, or what? I believe it is exciting to have tangible evidence underfoot for the strange world of the last ice age when the seedS of the modern human-dominated world were sown soon after agriculture was developed (elsewhere).
were there flowers here? Just a Few verbana, this is not a well-watered location:
Now let's go and see what is happening this same day in death valley.