Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Southeastern Nevada & Death Valley – March 2013 - Part Three

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

Something was in the air this evening that told us a wonderful show was in store for us. The clouds were not dramatic but a nice pastel pink began to grow in the distance.

It was the kind of sunset that would bring a mother and daughter together to watch it.

As it grew dark I asked the Spiders to turn on their back light so I could try a 6 second exposure.

The next morning the predawn light was just as much fun to enjoy and marvel at.

The rising sun’s light began to hit the hilltops.

Just above camp was a high outcropping with petroglyphs. We named it the sunrise billboard because it was the first place that sunlight hit.

We were like kids, climbing rocks, watching the light.

Our time in this wonderful place had come to a close. Home was starting to call. Little Spider had not visited Death Valley and Mom & Dad wanted to show her some of the sights and Death Valley makes a convenient stop over point for us on our way home. The Lady, well she is always anxious to continue our explorations there.

It was a pleasant drive across Nevada. This time we skirted Las Vegas on the north side and intersected highway 95 that took us to Beatty. From there we drove into the National Park and made our way to Mesquite Springs Campground.

In the morning we went our separate ways. The Spiders were off to share Scotty’s Castle with Little Spider. The Lady & I we had two canyons to investigate in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Our morning hikes revealed some secrets to us that we will come back to investigate further. Around noon found us near milepost 20 on the Scottys Castle Road. We looked across the 2.5 miles up the alluvial fan we had to cross before reaching the mouth of Red Wall Canyon. It was warmer than we expected, in the low nineties, but we were well equipped and experienced with this kind of fun. On the hike, just as we would really start feeling the heat, a breeze would stir the air. Too bad it wasn’t a cool breeze as the wind came up from the depths of Death Valley.

We found some shade inside the canyon’s mouth, lay back, and looked back at the bajada we had climbed.

Was the effort worth it? The colors inside this canyon were spectacular.

After enjoying lots of water and taking a nice break, we headed up canyon to see what we would find.

This was our stopping point.

To put the size into perspective…………………….

There were good handholds near the bottom. Footholds were mostly friction. I spotted the Lady as she got up about 7 feet. The rock was smooth and dusty as she neared the bottom of the chockstone. We decided climbing shoes would help here along with a bit of webbing and a short length of climbing rope, just to be on the safe side. We were alone, it was cool in the depths of the canyon, and this was a great place for another break. Below us the canyon walls glowed with filtered light coming in from above.

We worked our way back down the canyon.

We stopped part way down the fan and looked back at the Grapevine Mountains.

We reconnected with the Spiders for our last evening at Mesquite Springs. The wind had died down; the temperature was cool and nice. We took a long walk together in the night around the campground.

In the morning the Spiders headed north toward Tonopah. The Lady and I headed south. As we were dropping into Panamint Valley on a back road, one of our starting questions got answered - what would happen with the Lady and bighorn sheep.

The two ewes and two lambs were undisturbed as we quietly pulled the truck to a stop. They were in the wash along the road, browsing. I carefully pulled the keys from the ignition and turned off the headlights so no alarms would sound as I opened the door.
“Let’s quietly climb out my door so we are shielded by the camper and look around the corner to get some photos,” I whispered.
I did just that to find the Lady in the road a few feet from them.”They’re fine, we’re not disturbing them. They are continuing to browse,” the Lady quietly said. She was right.

The larger lamb was the only one who paid attention to us and that seemed only because he wanted to show off his new legs.

The smaller lamb was cute as a button…………………………………

………………………………….and mostly interested in breakfast from mom.

They moseyed up the hill and we continued on our way.

We were last in the central Panamint Valley in the 1980’s. We wanted to stop and see how much things had changed.

Manson’s power wagon was still up on blocks.

Rocky enjoyed chatting with the Lady. He told us about the Jewish group celebrating Passover in the desert. They were camped a short ways up the Surprise Canyon Road. We chatted with a young couple with their young daughter. It was very nice to see them working on not only keeping their traditions alive but giving them new life.

I was first up Surprise Canyon in 1971. It is amazing how the canyon has come back to life after the scouring floods and debris flows and the removal of motor vehicle use here. It is an oasis.

Here’s the old truck buried in flood debris that marks the end of the gorge.

The old buildings at the end of the road were known as Chris Wicht Camp back when I was a kid exploring this area.

We let our last full day work its magic. We were on no schedule. We returned to the truck and headed toward Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills. The Lady wanted to find a high point to camp at. We succeeded but it took many rocks to level out the truck and camper.

We watched the last daylight fade……………………………………

………………………………….and were excited to see what the new morning would bring.

Our trip was about over. This had been another exceptional adventure. How could we be sad it was over? We had left home with so many questions. Many more questions came up as we explored. The answers had fallen into place and we were happy.


  1. Fabulous, awesome photos! Enjoyed the stories, too.

    I look forward to exploring DV and I'll come back to your posts for travel ideas.

  2. very nice collection of photos and stories. elisa and i are hoping to do a similiar trip this year sometime in the fall. Alabama Hills is a favorite spot of mine and I want to travel into Nevada as well. We shall see...we shall see...

  3. Phenomenal photos -- great use of oblique light!

  4. I had to come back and marvel at your photos and adventure one more time!