Unbathed and Unsaved

Volume I : Chapter VII


At a point in time there were high hopes for a bustling beach community at the Salton Sea. Land was bought, resorts built but nothing could combat the ever increasing salinity of the water and all was left to waste away. The climate here is brutal, the heat thick and as assaulting as the smell of sulphur emanating from the water. With the population dwindling and the land becoming more and more inhospitable, there are only relics left of what could have been.

I have never felt heat like I did on this day, 54 Celsius, or for you Americans, 130 Fahrenheit. We had wanted to go to Salvation Mountain for as long as we could remember. To say we were sweating like whores in church would be an appropriate parallel but it was worse than that. I threw up. At a religious monument. It was bad but not enough to not get out of the air conditioned car and check this place out in its entirety. If you've been here you understand, its surreal. A monument of vibrant color amidst a dismal desert landscape of flat muted beige. Leonard Knight is the man who built it, well into his 80's now it is maintained by volunteers, parts crumble and are repaired over time. A bright beacon, it is a landmark next to Slab City, an off the grid mecca for those escaping whatever it is they needed to leave behind. We learned it was the off season for Slab City, it wasn't the hustle and bustle it usually is in the winter months. We could understand, the heat was unbearable and we couldn't spot a soul in the compound. I could almost have interpreted the sweat, vomit and delirium to a religious experience on this day, but whatever it was, this place was beautiful. Believer or not, if you come here you'll want to believe in it too.


Words by: Kyla Trethewey


Start reading from our first day on the road or see all of our travel posts.