Today we did another epic hike of 15+ miles RT. And I’m feeling it tonight. We did an incredible hike out to Cottonball Marsh Canyon and then the side canyon which leads to the newly discovered natural bridge on Tucki Mountain. We had to overcome two major dry falls in the canyon in order to reach the spectacular new natural bridge. A name for this bridge will be assigned in the next week or so and will be published in my upcoming report, along with the info on who discovered it and more details. Thanks to Kauri for scouting out the first of the two bypasses on her earlier trip, thus paving the way for my group to be successful. This was a very beautiful canyon from beginning to end.
For our family day, we tried to get to Marble Canyon, but the road was so bad we had to turn back. As an alternative, we went ahead and hiked Canyon 1 (see Day 1 and maps on my blog if you don’t know what I mean by Canyon 1) since it was in the same general area. Canyon 1 was not as interesting as Canyon 3, but was still worth visiting. It had a neat gorge section with a series of dry falls, and then a nice section later on with colorful wall patterns. I guess I will also try to hit Canyon 2 on this trip to group 1-3 together all into one report. One thing that was very interesting was that I found a truck parked at the parking area for Canyon 3 today. I can only assume that somebody read my Day 1 update and then came out to hike Canyon 3 to see what secrets it holds. Because there would be no other reason to park in that spot and these canyons are all undocumented and not typical hiking areas.
I also dropped by the FCVC today and was impressed with the new exhibits. They were very well done. Some of my pictures are in use there which was neat to see. It is a privilege to be a part of the new Visitor Center even in a small way.
Today we hiked out to the major canyon between Echo & Slit with one goal. We wanted to get past the boulder blockade that has stopped all previous hiking groups one mile into the canyon. And we did it! With the help of sheepranch, he was able to get us all up and over the boulder blockade. We ended up successfully hiking the entire canyon up to the head and then we looped back to Hole-In-the-Wall via Slit Canyon. This is considered a first ascent of this canyon and major accomplishment, as no group has ever documented covering this entire canyon before. All in the group agreed that the most appropriate name for this canyon was Rockfall Canyon, as the endless rockfalls and boulders are the defining feature of the canyon. Tomorrow is a day off for family activities.
My trip highlight was expected to be Slab Canyon, a canyon I stumbled across and named after finding it on Google Earth. It was amazing! We literally spent 3 hours walking through narrows. The reason we spent so long in there is that we had to do 4 bypasses. This canyon is non-stop dry falls, small climbs, and polished narrows. I hiked it at the beginning of the trip because it was 19.3 miles RT. And I knew that later in the trip I might be too tired to do it, and I didn’t want to miss it. I’ve got 300 photos to choose from, but how do you choose when there are endless narrows? These 4 pictures I’m sharing are almost like teasers. This will be a fun report to write later. What an excellent canyon! I will provide a map to find it with my report. I will also explain why I named it Slab Canyon.
I will use this space to post live updates from Death Valley during our February 2013 trip, which began today. We are staying at Furnace Creek this time, which has excellent WiFi. Updates will be daily except in the case where I am overnight backpacking or too tired from long hikes. Since WiFi is excellent, I will try to share at least 3 pictures each day. Many more will be shared in my Trip Reports later.
Death Valley February 2013 Trip
Day 1– Canyon 3
Today we arrived in the park at 1:30pm and headed out to an area I have nicknamed the Ten Canyons Region. To kick off our trip, we wanted to do a short hike into an undocumented canyon. So we decided on Canyon 3, which is just the way I have numbered all of these unnamed canyons that stretch from Cottonwood Canyon wash to Lemoigne Canyon. More on that later in my upcoming report. Canyon 3 is located directly off of Cottonwood Road prior to reaching the drop into the Cottonwood Canyon wash. I had somewhat low expectations going into this hike, but I was pleasantly surprised. The canyon was very interesting… starting out with conglomerate rock narrows and dead-ending at a 20 foot dry fall about 1/2 mile into the canyon. But my friend Tobin found a bypass to get past the dry fall, while I climbed the dry fall. Past the dry fall, we were stunned to walk through a gorge with polished narrows and dry falls (all climbable by those with some minor skills). Then we discovered something interesting which we will be reporting to the park service but not publishing publicly. Finally, the hike ended at a spectacular 40 foot dry fall in the best section of narrows. So a great start to the trip and choice of an undocumented canyon. And this day will always be remembered since it was the first hike I ever took with my son in Death Valley.
I am happy to report that I have been working on some site updates over the past weekend and will continue to as I have some more to do. One of the biggest changes is the addition of a brand new Death Valley Hiking & Backpacking Recommendations page. You can find a link to this new page on the main page of the site in between the links to the Introduction Page and Wildlife Page. The new page has been put together because of the fact that I have been receiving a lot of e-mails lately essentially asking the same questions… where should I go hiking and where should I go backpacking? To help answer that, I added this page and explained why I like or recommend the hikes that I do. Once readers view that page, then they can receive help in planning their trips or write to me for additional details or alternate suggestions. Hopefully everyone will find this new page helpful.
One other big update to the site is going to be the option of viewing pictures in a slideshow format on select reports for my favorite hikes. Hiking reports with slideshows will be identified by a small play button icon on the main page. Once on the report page, there will be a red slideshow button after the introduction paragraph which you can click on to view all of the photos and commentary as a slideshow. The slideshow has an autoplay option as well as a full screen option. Test out the new slideshow format by visiting our Fall Canyon report. The nice thing about the slideshows is that it will allow visitors to see bigger pictures if they wish. Others might prefer the standard Trip Report way of viewing photos, so we will keep those in the report as well, which is also better for mobile browsing of reports. All reports where a slideshow is added will have their introductory comments and maps updated.
One final update to the site is on the Wildlife Page. I completely wrote a new introduction to this page talking about the wildlife out there and what I have seen and experienced. And I added three additional photographs of wildlife that you might find very interesting to check out. More updates are coming to the site soon, and I will update this posting to reflect any additional changes in the coming weeks. I’m going to be updating and revising many of my old trip reports to show more pictures and better maps. Newly updated and released reports include–
- DV Hiking Recommendations
- Wildlife Page (new introduction and 3 additional photos)
- Cottonwood-Marble Backpacking Trip page (several updates)
- Sidewinder Canyon (new map, 20 additional photos, and slideshow option)
- Fall Canyon (new map, 15 additional photos, and slideshow option)
- -282 Actual Lowest Point (updated info and 2 new photos)
- Palmer Canyon (new map, 32 additional photos, and slideshow option)
- Other slideshows added include– Middle Hidden Bridge Canyon, Grave Canyon, Kaleidoscope Canyon, Room Canyon, Funeral Slot Canyon, Willow Creek Canyon, Sand Canyon, Moonlight Canyon, Dry Mountain, Corkscrew Peak, more to come…
- Lower Marble Canyon (28 additional photos and slideshow option)
- Cottonwood Canyon (18 additional photos and slideshow option)
- Dry Bone Canyon (new map, 25 additional photos, and slideshow option)
- Lower Bighorn Gorge (new map, 19 additional photos, and slideshow option)
- Upper Bighorn Gorge (new map, 11 additional photos, and slideshow option)
- Upper Marble Canyon (new map, 9 additional photos, and slideshow option)
- Trellis Canyon (new map, 28 additional photos, and slideshow option)