Mojave River

Looking at this map, the pink wriggle in Southern California that begins nowhere and ends nowhere is the Mojave River. It flows year round underground, visible in only a few places. In better, wetter days it watered the desert plain and helped to fill those empty lake beds you pass by on the way to Vegas. The land was green, even lush in places and if the fossils are any evidence it must have been as crowded with creatures as the Serengeti. Eventually the Mojave spilled into the now even sadder Amargosa River to help fill the immense lake that is now the unlaked Death Valley. In the wettest winters the Mojave reappears and fills the emptiness of Soda Lake, surreally threatening to submerge Baker. But only for a few weeks. Summer comes, the lake evaporates and the Mojave retreats into its subterranean bed, flowing unseen deep into the Mojave Desert where gravity eventually pulls it down into the water table. That’s the pink squiggle on this map in the middle of southern California, the one you’d never notice if someone didn’t post about it instead of finishing the dishes, the 110 miles of the longest river we have south of the Kern and west of the Colorado. You’ll have to wait till the Earth’s tilt changes enough in 90,000 years or so for things to get wet enough to bring it back to the surface, when it refills the lakes and send the residents of Baker scurrying for higher ground.

This gorgeous map was created by a geographer who goes by Fejetlenfeh, though I saw it in the Daily Mail of all places.

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