DV Fall 2016 Day 2: Lee Wash

Our second hike in Death Valley was an epic 15-mile one-way hike of Lee Wash.  We got dropped off at Lee Mine to begin the descent of 3,600+ feet, with the hike ending at the parking area for the Panamint Sand Dunes.  Lee Wash was quite a beautiful canyon to hike through.  The highlight was seeing so many colorful rock layers and patterns on the towering canyon walls.  Here are a few teaser images from the upcoming report.

The infamous Plunge Pool Fall in Lee Wash which requires a safety rope downclimb.

The infamous Plunge-Pool Fall in Lee Wash which requires a safety rope downclimb.

New rock layers and patterns around nearly every bend in the upper canyon.

New rock layers and patterns around nearly every bend in the upper canyon.

A massive polished dry fall pouring over the colorful canyon wall.

A massive polished dry fall pouring over the colorful canyon wall.

Typical majestic canyon walls as seen while heading down lower Lee Wash:

Typical majestic canyon walls as seen while heading down lower Lee Wash:

DV Fall 2016 Day 1: Cavern Bridge discovery

For our first day of hiking in Death Valley for our Fall 2016 trip, we spent the morning attempting to enter Upper Mummy Canyon.  That proved to be a failure, because there were four dry falls in between the end of the canyon and Jensen Bridge.  So we exited the area and moved on to another hike.

In the afternoon, I finished exploration of a certain area which I had been planning to check out for some time now.  These efforts were rewarded by experiencing some beautiful slot narrows.  The highlight came when I hiked into a deep and high section of slot narrows which was pitch black inside.  Only light at the very top was visible (at times).  To my surprise, I hiked around a bend and found a previously undocumented major natural bridge.  This newly discovered natural bridge would be nearly impossible to see unless somebody had a flashlight with them while hiking through, as I did.  The natural bridge of conglomerate rock spans all the way across the slot canyon.  But because the area is pitch black, it is challenging to photograph the bridge.  Above the bridge is a cavern-like area where the slot canyon expands, thus I have temporarily assigned the name Cavern Bridge to the new natural bridge.  Here is one teaser photograph.

Cavern Bridge (tentative name) discovered on November 24, 2016 in Death Valley

Cavern Bridge (tentative name) discovered on November 24, 2016 in Death Valley

Cave of Mt Otemanu (Bora Bora) hiking report released

The second and final hiking report from Bora Bora has now been released.  This was another outstanding hike featuring a challenging climb up the slopes of Mount Otemanu to reach a mysterious cave located a short distance below the summit.  There were a lot of great views enjoyed along the way and the exploration of the cave proved to be quite interesting as well.  I do have a couple of additional hiking reports to release from French Polynesia, but those will have to wait as I turn my attention back to some planned hiking in Death Valley very soon.  To see the new report from Bora Bora, click on the link below or use the main link on the Introduction Page of the site.

Cave of Mount Otemanu (Bora Bora) hiking report

Mt Pahia (Bora Bora) hiking report released

This evening we have published our first of two hiking reports from the island of Bora Bora.  This first report covers the summit hike to Mount Pahia (2,169 feet in elevation).  This was one of the most anticipated hikes of our trip and it truly delivered with some of the best views we have ever seen.  It was also an incredibly challenging hike from beginning to end.  The report on Mount Pahia is now available by clicking on the link below or by following the link now posted on the Introduction Page of the site.

Mount Pahia (Bora Bora) hiking report

Mt Teurafaatiu (Maupiti) hiking report released

The third hiking report from our trip to French Polynesia has now been released.  This new report documents a hike up to Maupiti’s highest point – Mount Teurafaatiu.  It was definitely an all-time favorite hike and I have added some bonus pictures at the end of some of the views of the mountain from various spots on Maupiti along with some of my favorite snorkeling photographs.  The new report can be viewed by visiting the Introduction Page on the site and looking under the South Pacific section.  Or, you can click on the link below.

Mt Teurafaatiu (Maupiti) hiking report

Lower Fautaua Fall (Tahiti) hiking report released

As a follow-up to our first report, the second report also covers a hike in the same area on the island of Tahiti.  This hike visits Lower Fautaua Fall.  This hike is completely different and unique in comparison to the first hike (although they do share the same first 2 miles of trail).  It was quite a challenging and beautiful hike.  I’m sure you will really enjoy this report (as well as the first one released) if you appreciate the beauty of waterfalls.  There is a link now posted on the Introduction Page under the South Pacific section and you can also read the report by clicking on the link below.

Lower Fautaua Fall (Tahiti) hiking report

Fautaua Waterfall (Tahiti) hiking report released

This evening, we have released the first of our 7 brand new reports which document hikes in French Polynesia.  This first hike took place on Tahiti and visited Fautaua Waterfall.  The report features wildflowers, plants, scenery along the trail, waterfall views, and the beautiful area above the top of the waterfall.  The report can be found on the Introduction Page under the South Pacific section.  You can also read the new report by clicking on the link below.

Fautaua Waterfall (Tahiti) hiking report

Death Valley updates Sept 2016

Now that we have returned from our wonderful trip to French Polynesia, it’s time to think about the upcoming hiking season in Death Valley.  The month of October is fast approaching.  I generally view the hiking season in Death Valley as running from mid-October to mid-April (for about 6 months).  Of course, that can depend on the weather, as sometimes it doesn’t really cool down enough to begin hiking in the valley until November.  Also, there are usually some cool enough days in the month of May, if you are willing to head to the park on short notice based on the weather forecast.

As of right now, I’m hoping to visit the park during the holidays in late November for 3-4 days of hiking.  But we will see how everything plays out.  I may not make it out until 2017.  As far as repeat hikes, I have been eyeing a return to Albatross Plane Crash Site.  Being that my first hike out there was in 2006, it seems that a 10-year anniversary hike in 2016 would be a good idea.  Doing that hike would also give me the opportunity to write up a much better, newer-format report.  As far as newer hikes, I’m kind of torn between heading out to Saline Valley to wrap up some hikes out there (including the North Fork of Tafoni Canyon, Marble BM, and Middle Grand View Canyon) or going into the Owlsheads to do some hikes (including a repeat hike of Lost Lake, a new hike to Owlhead BM summit, and two other hikes which will remain off-the-record for now).

One final note.  I recently updated my DV Hiking Recommendations Page.  Every month, that is one of our most-viewed pages here on the site.  As for the updates, I removed one day hike and added three new day hikes.  The hike which was removed was Red Amphitheater.  While it is a nice hike, I just didn’t feel that the quality of that hike was in the same league as the others listed.  The three hikes that were added were the Smoke Tree Slots, Room Canyon, and Kaleidoscope Canyon.  I consider all three of those hikes to be must-do hikes, so I thought it was a good idea to add them.  To read the updates, visit that page here on the site (and refresh your browser if needed to make the updates appear).

FP Hike 7: Moorea 3 Pines Pass

For our seventh and final hike of the trip, we did a fairly easy hike to Three Pines Pass on the island of Moorea.  This was kind of a bonus hike that was not necessarily planned, but we had an extra day free today while waiting for our flight home.  Three Pines Pass starts at the same parking area as Three Coconuts Pass, but it heads in a different direction.  This hike was all about the beautiful trees we enjoyed checking out along the way.  The viewpoint put us even closer to the face of Mt. Rotui and we had an even clearer view of Cooks Bay (which was where our hotel was located here on this island).

Charlie heading out on the early part of the trail

Charlie heading out on the early part of the trail

These trees towered into the sky

These trees towered into the sky

Tahitian Chestnut trees were plentiful with amazing designs

Tahitian Chestnut trees were plentiful with amazing designs

Behind me in this picture is a single Banyan tree

Behind me in this picture is a single Banyan tree

Charlie standing at the aptly named Three Pines Pass

Charlie standing at the aptly named Three Pines Pass

FP Hike 6: Moorea 3 Coconuts Pass

After spending some time swimming and snorkeling with Humpback whales in Bora Bora, we continued on to the island of Moorea for our sixth hike of the trip.  For this hike, we did a 3 hour hike to the viewpoint known as Three Coconuts Pass.  From there, we had incredible views of Opunohu Bay, Mt. Rotui, Cooks Bay, and other surrounding peaks which will be detailed within the hiking report released later.

Passing through a bamboo forest during the hike

Passing through a bamboo forest during the hike

Josh climbing the switchbacks to the top

Josh climbing the switchbacks to the top

Beautiful surrounding mountains and trees in the Opunoho Valley area

Beautiful surrounding mountains and trees in the Opunoho Valley area

View of Mt Rotui and Cooks Bay as seen from Three Coconuts Pass

View of Mt Rotui and Cooks Bay as seen from Three Coconuts Pass

Getting a picture at Three Coconuts Pass

Getting a picture at Three Coconuts Pass