Monday, March 22, 2010

A Day in the Canyons

This morning we drove 23 miles north to Stove Pipe Wells and up a gravel road 2 more miles and 1000 feet in elevation. We parked the truck and began a hike up Mosaic Canyon. The first half mile of the hike was an extremely narrow canyon, lined by polished marble.


A number of spots required a bit of scrambling, and we admit we missed the high-friction granite on which we’re accustomed to climbing at home and in Baja, as the slick marble is more akin to ice. At one point while Bob was clambering up a short, steep slope and juggling his camera to prevent its’ banging against the rock, he lost his footing and slipped 3 feet. We missed a great photo opportunity: on the slide, Bob hooked his right ring finger on a rock and bent it 45 degrees sideways, at the second joint. What a photo that would have been! Bob yanked the dislocated joint back into alignment, and it’s now swollen, a little sore, and a pale green shade, but frankly we expected worse. Following some ibuprofen and ice, he’s managing just fine as long as Cathryn doesn’t grab it to hold hands.


We continued up the canyon 2 miles for another 1000’ feet of gain and many great views of sedimentary and other types of rock.


We returned to our campsite for lunch, then traveled 15 miles south to the Natural Bridge. This is a short hike, or walk really, half a mile up a canyon to a natural rock bridge. Unlike the natural bridges we’ve seen at places such as Arches National Park in Utah, this one is made entirely of sedimentary rock. Suffice it to say we walked rapidly while underneath.


We again returned to our campsite for dinner, then packed a small water bottle with wine and headed up to Zabriskie Point on the east rim of Death Valley to watch the sunset.



Zabriskie Point is the singular most spectacular site in Death Valley as far as we’re concerned. If you were only going to see one place here, this is it. We saw it last year when we were here with Adrienne and were eager to return. It’s been overcast all day, and as a result the colors in the rocks have not been quite as vivid as they were last year, but it’s still an awesome place.


We’re headed north tomorrow. Not sure where exactly, maybe Lake Tahoe. Check our SPOT (see the right-hand column) to find out where we end up.

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