Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Death Valley April 2012 - Part Three

please remember you can click on a photo to see a larger version

After we returned from our winter trip to Death Valley and our first adventure up Marble Canyon, I found this helpful website:
 Bird & Hike

In particular, I looked at Mr. Boone’s report on Marble Canyon in Death Valley. Marble Canyon
What caught my eye was his description of a side canyon:

“I'll leave the details to be discovered by adventuresome hikers, but dragon eggs become quite common in the wash until reaching the dragon's nest, part of which lies in the center of the wash.

Beyond the dragon nest lie the most amazing narrows that I know of in Death Valley -- even better than Titus Canyon  and Upper Fall Canyon. There are some short scramble-ups in the narrows, but they shouldn't be too much trouble for hikers who can make it that far."

Dragon eggs and a dragon’s nest and the most amazing narrows in Death Valley? Could this be true? What were the secrets here? And no pictures, what a temptation to find out for ourselves.

Our adventure continued as we traveled back up through the second narrows where we discovered signs of geology in action.

As we explored up canyon from the narrows we found an ancient gathering spot.

At the famous Goldbelt rock we turned right up the side canyon. What would we find?

Would we find dragon eggs?

Would we find the nest they came from?

Would we find more interesting rock?

And the narrows above, are they the most amazing in Death Valley? Like Mr. Boone, I will not say too much but I will share a few photos.

You should, if you are interested, make the trip yourself. Draw your own conclusions. I will tell you this –we spoke only in whispers as our eyes were drawn from one detail to another. This is a magical and sacred place; a place where spirits dwell.

This was a day well spent.

Several days before as we were exploring Slit Canyon, I was ahead in the narrows and the Lady said, “You are wearing two socks!”
“I always wear two socks.” I answered.
“No, you are wearing two different hiking socks.” She was laughing.
“I am not.”
She was at my feet unfolding my socks as she correctly pointed out, “See, you have two different socks on!” She was enjoying this.
“Well I brought two pair of hiking socks along. I must have grabbed one of each.”
“I’m going to call you ‘Two Socks’!” She really thought this was funny.
“I’m getting to be an old man. You are going to have to put up with more and more of this stuff.”
“I hear you Two Socks!”
“Next thing you know I’ll have food dribbling off my chin and on to my shirt front.”
“You already do that!”
“How ‘bout long hairs starting to grow out of my ears?”
“I’m already taking care of those for you.”
“How ‘bout forgetting to zip my fly?”
“You’re not there yet, Two Socks, but give it time!” It was nice to see the Lady enjoying herself.

One of the neatest things that happened just prior to our trip was receiving in the mail a copy of my cousin’s (The Big Guy) just released collection of fly fishing stories - Quest for Home Water.

The Lady grabbed it and enjoyed getting in the first read. Finally, on this night, it was my turn to get my hands on it. It is really well done with a great cover photo.

We had a real treat this night, our last in Marble Canyon. As night darkened the sky and the stars burst forth from hiding, the moon rose and cast its subtle light on the hillsides.

We woke early the next morning and enjoyed the predawn light.

It was time to pack up at this secluded campsite and move on. 

The Lady had a place she wanted to explore.

The Lady has gone through our copy of Hiking Death Valley many times. She has made notes in it from all our trips and has entered the dates when we have done the hikes. One she has mentioned several times is Stretched Pebble Canyon.  On this trip I had also brought along Mr. Boone’s guide, Pebble Canyon
As we were ascending and descending the huge Cottonwood/Marble alluvial fan, she would look across at Tucki Mountain and say, “Isn’t that Stretched Pebble Canyon right over there?”

We had no definite plans for Saturday. It was a day to wander and see where we ended up. As we pulled out of Stovepipe Wells I said, “You park along highway 190 about 3 miles up from here if you want to access Stretched Pebble Canyon, Want to check it out?”
“Really? Let’s do it. It will be fun!”

We set out the chairs and between passing cars changed into our hiking clothes. We secured the truck, donned our packs, and headed up the fan. The Lady had read me the geology details of the canyon the night before as we lay in bed. She wanted to know what a “stretched pebble” was. This got interesting. I got this from the description. There are three main layers of rock up the canyon. The top and bottom layers are limestones and dolomites, rocks that have their origins in warm seas. The conglomerate middle layer doesn’t seem to fit because it appears to have its origin from glacial moraine. This is speculated because of the random, unsorted nature of the size of the materials. This conglomerate was buried and subjected to heat and pressure that cooked, melted, and squashed, all the rocks. The striking feature of this “stretched pebble conglomerate” is the elongated flattened boulders imbedded in the rock layer. Well if there were “stretched pebbles” up there, the Lady wanted to see them.

This canyon is rough, narrow and steep. You find this out right away.

And, there are stretched pebbles.

It is almost a continuous series of dry falls. We went up as far as this polished masterpiece.

I thought it made a great spot for a break, a snack, maybe a nap. 

The Lady thought it a great place to leave her pack and try to find a way around this obstacle.

The rock on a possible bypass was awful, loose and crumbling, and any possible route took you out into more exposure.
“I don’t like it out here.” I heard the Lady’s voice from around a corner.
“So, are you coming back?”
She did.

We worked our way back down through the maze.

Stretched Pebble is a wonderful canyon to climb through and explore.

Our trip to Death Valley had been wonderful. We weren’t in the mood to leave. As we dropped down the wash toward highway 190 I said to the Lady, “That’s Lemoigne Canyon right over there. There are a couple little things I’ve been curious about up there. I bet right before the road drops into the canyon at the end is a great camping spot with a panoramic view of Death Valley. But, some say it is one of the worst roads in the Park.”
“Let’s find out!” She was game.

The camping spot was superb with a world class view. We explored up canyon and came upon spring wildflowers.

On our way back we decided to climb out of the main canyon, over a high saddle, and drop down into an adjoining side canyon. The views were worth it. That tiny little spot along that faint road in the middle of the photo is our truck.

We were all alone with an expansive panorama before us. Dinner and chores were leisurely as we watched the shadows creep across the valley.

The wind from earlier in the week had died down, the temperature was perfect, we could not turn in early this night.

We watched the lights of Stovepipe Wells far in the distance.

Morning was just as glorious…………………..

…………………..as we watched the sunrise over Tucki Mountain.

“Isn’t this Easter morning?” The Lady asked.
“Yup, it is and I think this is as good as it gets for our Easter sunrise service.”

Death Valley. It will take us a lifetime to even put a dent in discovering all of its marvels and treasures

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