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Valley Benchmark allows you to encounter a morning high up in the mountains when the snow-capped peaks are just barely glittering in the rising sun. Be it flying over the vast green expanses or hiking along rocky slopes, this journey continues as long as you wish. Unique in every corner, this open-space world provides a wonderfully relaxing experience under the tranquil music and sounds of nature.
The low-lying Scorpion Valley has always been subject to flooding, but overgrazing by sheep increased the intensity. The El Niño event of 1997-1998 had a devastating impact upon the Scorpion Ranch area. During the night of December 5, 1997, over 12 inches of rain fell on eastern Santa Cruz Island, sending over one billion gallons of water down the valley in which you are standing. Flood waters crested at almost four feet above the valley floor, inundating the area with mud and alluvial deposits over two feet thick. Imagine water up to your armpits, mud and silt up to your knees. The next morning, the valley was still under water. This torrent destroyed the campground and caused extensive damage to trails, property, and the structures in the historic ranch. The storms swept away the historic blacksmith shop, barn, and moved the wooden bunkhouse (1914) 30 feet off its foundation.Floods and storms have always been part of life at Scorpion - it is a river delta. The National Park Service can't do much about the weather, but it can reduce flooding in the Scorpion Valley. Decades of overgrazing devastated plant cover, leaving the soil vulnerable to erosion. By removing livestock and encouraging native plant growth, we are increasing the soil's ability to hold water and slow runoff.
Calming the horse down to a quick trot, they hurried on in the wake ofthe stampede. They had lost all sound of the herd, and the trail whichthe ploughing hoofs had made at the beginning of the storm had beennearly obliterated by the beating [Pg 89]rain. Once they thought they caught the sound again and must be offthe track. They followed it and found it was the roaring of a highwave coming down an arroyo from a cloudburst farther up in themountain. Hurrying back, they kept to the general direction the cattlehad taken until the trail began to show more plainly in the soakedearth, like a strip of ploughed land across the hills. When theyreached the next arroyo, they found it a torrent of roaring water. Thegreater part of the cloudburst had flowed down this channel, and whereMead and the cattle had to cross merely wet sand and soaked earth,they would have to swim.
They picked their way carefully up the canyon, watching the gorge thatlengthened beyond them and the walls that towered above their heads,listening constantly for the faintest sounds of human voice or foot,speaking rarely and always in a whisper. The floor of the canyon wasstrewn with boulders large and small, and its sides rose above them inrugged, barren, precipitous cliffs. Nowhere did they see the slightestsign of vegetation to relieve the wilderness of sand and rock andbarren walls. Not even a single grass blade thrust a brave green headbetween forbidding stones. Above them was a sky of pure, brilliantblue, and around them was the gray of the everlasting granite. Exceptfor the sound of their own footsteps, the canyon was absolutelysilent. There was no call of animals one to another, or twitter ofbirds, or whirr of feathered wings, or piping of insects. Now and[Pg 199]then a slender, graceful lizard darted silently out of the sunshineto hide beneath a stone, and far behind them in the canyon thebuzzards wheeled in low, awkward flights above the carcass of the deadhorse. But aside from these no living creature was to be seen. 1e1e36bf2d