Fall 2014 Death Valley Trip Reports

Now that we have returned home from another successful trip to Death Valley, we will be writing up and releasing six new trip reports.  The six reports will cover areas that we hiked over the course of five days.  As you may have noticed, the Main Page of the site has been updated with these locations.  The links to these locations will become active once the new reports are published.  As a side note, I have decided to remove all the older reports for the Keane Wonder Mine area.  I did this for several reasons.  First, I needed to create more space on the Main Page to make room for the newer reports.  Second, those reports are all older (some being based on photos from a decade ago) and in need of updating.  Some of the Keane Wonder area reports only had 5-10 photos in total.  I cannot update these reports until the Keane Wonder Mine area reopens (in 1-5 years), thus I am just taking them down until I can do that.  I did leave space for the future Keane Wonder reports, as I intend to hike them in three separate sections — Keane Wonder Mine (and Big Bell Mine), Big Bell Extension Mine (and Cyty’s Mill & Keane Wonder Spring), and Keane Wonder Bridge.  As soon as the park service reopens these areas, I will take a trip out and carry out those hikes to provide new reports on those areas.  In the meantime, enjoy my newer reports for the Grapevines, Funerals, and Owlsheads which will be released soon.  Check the chart below for updates as to when the new reports will be coming out.  I will also be updating my Wildlife Page in the next week or so with some new photos that I took on this trip.  Two of the pictures I will be adding can be seen below.

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Day 5 – Pyramid Peak

Our trip ended with an unforgettable hike to the summit of Pyramid Peak.  Everything about the day turned out fantastic — we had great weather, crystal clear views with no haze, a full hour to spend up on the summit, and a very enjoyable (but sometimes challenging) hike.  Pyramid Peak has such great views all around from the summit that it really surprised me.  I wasn’t expecting to be able to see so much.  I look forward to sharing the views that Tobin and I had from the summit with you when I write up a report about this hike in the near future to share here on the site.  After the successful hike of Pyramid Peak, we headed back home.  It truly was a great Fall 2014 trip to Death Valley.  For the Spring of 2015 and Fall of 2015, I will only be making brief 2-3 day trips to the park to carry out hikes.  But in the Spring of 2016, I will be doing another extended family trip there.  I’m already really looking forward to it.  Six brand new reports will be coming soon from this trip.

Tobin preparing to head into The Crags section of the hike up Pyramid

Tobin preparing to head into The Crags section of the hike up Pyramid

Steve taking photographs of the Grapevines while this view shows central Death Valley

Steve taking photographs of the Grapevines while this view shows central Death Valley

Steve with Schwaub Peak as seen from the summit of Pyramid Peak

Steve with Schwaub Peak as seen from the summit of Pyramid Peak

Day 4 – Crescent Bridge MSC & 2SC

For my fourth hike, I headed out for a solo adventure deep in the Grapevine Mountains to visit Crescent Bridge Main Side Canyon and 2nd Side Canyon.  Crescent Bridge MSC had been previously documented in another report and I liked what I saw, thus I wanted to go see the beautiful white cliffs and false natural bridges for myself.  It definitely proved to be a great canyon, even better than what I was expecting.  After fully hiking up CB MSC, I looped over the ridge and came back down through CB 2nd Side Canyon.  The 2SC had never before been documented, but after hiking it I can now see why and will explain that in my upcoming report.  I was able to hike the entire length of CB 2SC from end to beginning and it really had some great narrows.  Since CB 2SC has never been seen before, I will share a few pictures of it below.  The hike ended with a return visit to Crescent Bridge itself, which is one of the most spectacular natural features in the entire park.

Lengthy slot narrows in Crescent Bridge's 2nd Side Canyon

Lengthy slot narrows in Crescent Bridge’s 2nd Side Canyon

Very impressive conglomerate rock narrows in CB 2SC

Very impressive conglomerate rock narrows in CB 2SC

Very little space for walking between the magnificent walls

Very little space for walking between the magnificent walls

Day 3 – Red Wall Cyn & Upper Little Arches Cyn

Today was yet another epic Death Valley adventure hike.  The morning started with a hike up Red Wall Canyon.  I had forgotten how beautiful this canyon is since I haven’t hiked it in so long.  The purpose of the Red Wall Canyon hike was so that I could write up a brand new trip report with all-new photographs.  As part of this, we used the Talus Jack Bypass, which some hikers have used in recent times to bypass the chockstone dry fall in the lower narrows.  The bypass took us 45 minutes and we consider it to be medium difficulty.  More on that in the upcoming report.  After hiking all the way through the 3rd Narrows of Red Wall Cyn, we looped over the ridge into Upper Little Arches Canyon (our name for the major canyon south of Red Wall).  We were able to hike all of Upper Little Arches Canyon with one big challenge — a major dry fall right in the middle which we had to use a long ridge bypass to overcome.  I will explain more in the upcoming report.  The narrows in the upper canyon were some of the best I have ever seen.  What a great privilege it was to see the entire upper canyon.  Here are a few teaser images from Upper Little Arches Canyon.

View into the dramatic upper narrows from the ridge while bypassing

View into the dramatic upper narrows from the ridge while bypassing

Steve in the towering narrows of the upper canyon

Steve in the towering narrows of the upper canyon

Nearing the end of a very long section of beautiful red slot narrows

Nearing the end of a very long section of beautiful red slot narrows

The double dry fall we bypassed at the end of the long slot narrows

The double dry fall we bypassed at the end of the long slot narrows

Day 2 – Wingate Slot Canyon

In the middle of our 2-day hike down Wingate Wash, we stopped to explore some slot canyons which I had targeted in the area.  The main one of these will be called Wingate Slot Canyon.  In my upcoming report, I will refer to the others (not pictured below) as Wingate Slot 2 and Wingate Slot 3.  The main Wingate Slot Canyon appears to be the only major slot canyon which drains directly into Wingate Wash.  It would be virtually impossible to visit these areas on a day hike due to the sheer distances involved in reaching them.  Wingate Slot Canyon was extremely impressive, having conglomerate rock walls with a variety of colors and textures.  Wingate Slot Canyon is 1 1/2 miles long with most of it having narrow walls the entire way.  Hopefully my pictures will be able to do this beautiful place justice.  This has quickly shot close to the top of my list for being among my favorite canyons in the Owlsheads.  Here are a few teaser images in advance of the more detailed upcoming report.

Lengthy conglomerate narrows in Wingate Slot Canyons

Lengthy conglomerate narrows in Wingate Slot Canyon

Fantastic slot canyon scenery which was always changing

Fantastic slot canyon scenery which was always changing

Wingate Slot Canyon completely changes character partway through

Wingate Slot Canyon completely changes character partway through

Steve in the midst of the Wingate Slot Canyon narrows

Steve in the midst of the Wingate Slot Canyon narrows

Day 1 – Wingate Wash (Nov 2014 DV Trip)

We have arrived in Death Valley for our November 2014 trip.  This trip will consist of four hikes and several days relaxing.  Usually, I like to hike every day on DV trips, but this time it will be different.  Due to the difficulty of all four hikes being carried out, days off to rest are a necessity.  The first two days of hiking have already highlighted that fact.

To start off our trip, we arranged a drop-off out at the end of Owlshead Mountains Rd.  The plan was to hike one-way all the way around the northwestern Owlshead Mountains in between the divide between the Panamints and Owlsheads.  We wanted to hike the entire length of Wingate Wash from one end of the park to the other.  Along the way, we would spend some time exploring Wingate Lake, which has never before been documented in a trip report.  The hike was incredible and filled with beautiful wide-open spaces.  I’m going to save most of the details for the trip report to follow.  The entire hike was 30 miles in length (with heavy backpacks) spread out over the course of 2 days.  Here are a few pictures from the backpacking journey through Wingate Wash.

Following the old Wingate Wash Road with views of the southern Panamints

Following the old Wingate Wash Road with views of the southern Panamints

Exploring desolate and beautiful Wingate Dry Lake

Exploring desolate and beautiful Wingate Dry Lake with the Owlsheads on the left

Camping overnight on a shelf above Wingate Wash

Camping overnight on a shelf above Wingate Wash

Long hiking distances and wide open scenery down the full length of Wingate Wash

Long hiking distances and wide open scenery down the full length of Wingate Wash