** Discovery of a Double Arch **

While hiking Grand View Canyon, I spotted a potential double arch high above the canyon. This double arch seems to be only visible from two spots in the entire canyon due to the high walls of the narrows which disguises the uppermost walls. This double arch appears to have a dry fall between the two arches and could possibly contain a small canyon draining through them. In the Spring, I hope to hike back into the Grand View area and possibly find a way to photograph the double arch up close (if it is safe to do so). If it turns out that a canyon drains through the double arch, then it would actually be a double natural bridge. But for now, it is considered to be an arch… and an amazing one at that.

newdoublebridge1

Day 3– Grand View Canyon

In my opinion, there are 3 canyons in Death Valley that are unmatched for beauty when it comes to the length of narrows and what can be found there. Those 3 are Hidden Bridge Canyon, Big Fall Canyon, and Moonlight Canyon. In my trip report later, I will expand more on why I feel that way. After my hike on Day 3, I am adding Grand View Canyon in Saline Valley to that list. So I now have 4 canyons which I feel are all equal in beauty (as well as difficulty in seeing). Grand View Canyon has spectacular narrows. But like the other canyons I listed earlier, Grand View Canyon cannot be seen all in one day. That is because there are obstacles which require bypasses, as well as a possible requirement of hiking in from the top to see everything. Thus, I will be splitting up my Grand View Canyon plans into Lower, Middle, and Upper. On this hike, I only made it into the lower canyon. In February, I hope to make it into the middle canyon. But getting back to this trip, Grand View Canyon simply amazed us. In addition to the narrows, which will stun you when I showcase them later, Grand View Canyon has Grand View Arch. Grand View Arch is one of the most incredible arches in the park.  It is located up on a hillside above the canyon wall. More information on the arch will be provided in my upcoming report.  Here are a few teaser images from our day.

Steve in the Grand View Canyon narrows
Steve in the Grand View Canyon narrows
Mel in the Grand View Canyon narrows
Mel in the Grand View Canyon narrows
Steve at Grand View Bridge
Steve at Grand View Arch
Looking at the grand view of Saline Valley from just above Grand View Bridge
Looking at the grand view of Saline Valley from just above Grand View Arch

Day 2– Dedeckera Canyon & Steel Pass

Well, I am currently running a few days behind on updates. But as they come through, you will understand why. We have been doing a lot. And everything has been incredible and amazing these past few days. For now, I will post most of the information from Day 2 and Day 3.

On Day 2, we took our Farabee’s rental Jeep out to Ubehebe Crater and the Eureka Sand Dunes. From there, we went up Dedeckera Canyon, which was a very interesting experience. My friend Mel had no issues going up the rock steps, but if I was driving, I wouldn’t have attempted them since I don’t have the experience. Next we continued up to Steel Pass and then down a few more miles to our camping spot for the night which was situated in the best spot for our hike the next day. Here are a few photos.

Our group at Ubehebe Crater
Our group at Ubehebe Crater
Mel driving up Dedeckera Canyon
Mel driving up Dedeckera Canyon

Day 1– Mummy Canyon & Jensen Bridge

To kick off our Fall 2013 trip, we hiked out Lower Mummy Canyon through the short narrows to the spot where it dead-ends at a dry fall. Above the dry fall is the incredible Jensen Natural Bridge. While my picture below reveals where Mummy Canyon got its name, I’m not going to be releasing any pictures that reveal where Jensen Bridge got its name. Future hikers will have to figure that out for themselves. Jensen Bridge is a spectacular sight to behold. For now, I’m only posting one teaser image that shows my son and I below it. Jensen Bridge became the 9th natural bridge that I have visited in the park. Mummy Canyon & Jensen Bridge are hidden in plain sight within the park. The good news is that it looks like I have been authorized to release the location within my upcoming report.

For this trip, Stefan is now 15 months old. I am carrying him in a backpack carrier and he is wearing an infant bicycle helmet to protect his head in case of falls. Tomorrow, we are heading out to Saline Valley and will not return until Wednesday night. So my Day 2 and Day 3 updates will happen at that time. We have a lot to do out in Saline. I won’t get into it now, but I will say we rented from Farabee’s, which will likely become a feature of most upcoming trips so we can expand our hiking areas a bit.

We figured out where Mummy Canyon got its name
We figured out where Mummy Canyon got its name
Steve and Stefan standing far below Jensen Natural Bridge
Steve and Stefan standing far below Jensen Natural Bridge

DV Natural Bridges Trip– Departure

This weekend, we will be departing for our first Death Valley trip of the 2012-13 hiking season.  Our previous two trips, taken in February and April, laid the groundwork for this trip.  On the February trip, we successfully carried out the incredibly difficult hike to visit Tucki Bridge.  Tucki Bridge was the 7th major natural bridge to be documented within the park and was discovered in late 2012 by two canyoneers.  A short time later, a hiker named Kauri stunned the Death Valley community by discovering Moonlight Bridge, which became the 8th major natural bridge in the park.  Moonlight Bridge looked so impressive in the photographs which Kauri released that I decided to return to the park in April to visit and document it.  After returning home, I published a special web page on Death Valley’s Natural Bridges right here.  The page has since been recently updated with additional photographs and an expanded introduction.  Once my special feature on the natural bridges was posted, some unexpected developments took place.  First, the park service informed me of two additional natural bridges which are currently undocumented and only known to a select few.  I was also asked to include Sidewinder Bridge as one of the major natural bridges.  A hiker named Robbie has published the best pictures of Sidewinder Bridge that I have seen on the internet so far.  (On my own previous two hikes out to Sidewinder Canyon, natural bridges were not a personal focus, so I did not photograph them at the time.)  Second, Lizard Lee, the hard-working and thoughtful camp host at the Saline Valley warm springs, informed me of a little-known natural bridge out in the Saline Valley area which he had discovered years ago.  In summary, I found out there were four additional major natural bridges which I had not yet visited and needed to photograph in order to document all of the known natural bridges in the park, which now numbered 12.  And that’s what this trip is all about– visiting and photographing the 4 additional natural bridges which I was not previously aware of.  As a final twist, I believe I might have located a 13th natural bridge within the park.  As the potential areas that I am targeting are currently undocumented, there is no way to tell for sure without hiking out there and checking the canyons myself.  So that’s what I will be doing on this trip.  Whether or not I can manage to find a 13th natural bridge, the important thing will be to appreciate seeing the 4 additional bridges firsthand and having fun searching for another one.  This trip will feature only one epic hike (about 16 miles RT), which will take place out in Saline Valley.  That is, assuming the roads are passable to get where we need to go.  And that gives you an overview of this trip as we prepare for our departure.  I decided to type it up before leaving home, as once I arrive in Death Valley it will save some time.  I will not be commenting additionally on the 4 major natural bridges until after I visit them for the first time.  My next update for Day 1 of the trip will hopefully be posted on Monday if all goes as planned.

Minor Site Updates

In advance preparation for my fast-approaching natural bridges trip to Death Valley, I have updated a couple of pages.  First, the DV Natural Bridges Page has been updated to include 2 more photographs of each bridge as well as an extended introduction.  Upon completion of my upcoming trip, I hope to add 4 additional major natural bridges to this page if I can manage to get to all of them.  These bridges include Jensen Bridge, Keane Wonder Bridge, Sidewinder Bridge, and Grand View Bridge.  That would make 12 major natural bridges in total within the park.  It sure would be nice to be able to discover a 13th while I am on this trip.  Second, I have updated the DV Hiking Recommendations Page to include more in-depth safety information to help try to keep hikers safe and give them some good advice.  I think you will find the additional information and real-life experience shared to be very informative.