We must be having a really good time since our list of injuries grows. Poor Talus has been rolled by Byrdie and then Mr. T stepped on him in the pitch dark. Mr. T is sporting a twisted knee and I have a punctured thumb to add to the hand tendonitis. Thank a cactus for that new one.
But oh the exploring we’ve been able to do!
After all these years of coming to Death Valley we had never paid any attention to some dirt roads off to the right just before entering the Furnace Creek part of the park. How could we have missed these two fantastic canyons? Throwing the necessary desert survival supplies into the Jeep, we set off.
Echo Canyon was drive up a mostly-okay dirt/gravel/rock road. The ‘almost’ part made things interesting. Only a few miles off the main road we were completely alone and surrounded by colorful desert hills and high rock walls. One of the walls had a keyhole in it that focused the setting sunlight much like a magnifying glass on an ant. Great fun.
The other new–to us–canyon was right next to Echo and called Hole in the Wall. Great-Big-Gap-in-the-Wall-You-Could-Drive-A-Tank-Through is more accurate but it was fantastic! We didn’t see anyone else the whole day. This canyon has to hold the record for the most rocks per square yard anywhere. Slippery rocks, rocks with faces, rocks that have fallen off cliffs–no dirt–just rocks.
We reached the end of the road about 6 miles into the canyon and that’s where we had a bit of a close call. The road didn’t just abruptly end–it kind of petered out into slipping, sliding rocks–next to a steep drop into a wash. I wasn’t driving(bum hand) so I was the one helping Mr. T navigate a 15 point turn in the Jeep. All was going quite well, I thought, until the Jeep began to slip.
“Brake! Turn! No, the other way!” I yelled. To no avail. The Jeep just continued to slide sideways towards the cliff edge. Thankfully, gravity cooperated with Mr. T’s driving skills and the Jeep came to a rest dangerously close to the drop-off place. If we hadn’t had such a close call we might have missed the best part about this canyon. With all the rocks and the steep drop it was a perfect place to pitch rocks over the edge and listen to them roll and break up all the way down to the bottom. There was something about the rock composition that made them give off a pretty tone as they banged other rocks and broke into smaller rocks. We spent close to an hour pushing, heaving and tossing rocks down into the wash. It was as good as being eleven years old again.
Today we leave the comforts of the Valley floor campground and head out to more remote areas. There won’t be any internet for a bit. I have a tea kettle I need to nail up at the Junction and there are more pictures to take before the dust renders all the cameras inoperable. We’ll be back!