November 200l Hike
Dear Death Valley Hiker,
     The Inyo Mine's extensive ruins was a perfect start for this fall's DVHA backpack trip.  Our group of fourteen left cars a few miles west of Hole in the Wall and shuttled up Echo Canyon to the Inyo Mine.  Along the way, we saw six bighorn sheep teetering on the ridge high above the roadbed.  Exploring up Echo Canyon, we found Indian petroglyphs in a narrow area of the canyon.  Later, the topography opened up to a broad, long wash ending in a drop off to the east with sweeping views of Amargosa Valley and Mt. Charleston beyond.  Over the contours to the south, we dropped into the drainage of upper Red Amphitheater.  This wash sweeps down to the south and consticts into minor narrows of red and orange breccia rock formations.  We took a side trip further east into the Funeral Mountains exploring more of the Red Amphitheater.  Other than the narrows, the area is not all that red, and we speculated that the person who named it must have been persuaded by a red colored sun setting against the side of the Funerals.  We continued on down the wash and explored the old quarry of red, gold, and buff colored sandstone slabs used in the construction of the Furnace Creek Inn in 1927.  The Explorer's Guide suggests that this quarry areqa was the inspiration for the Red Amphitheater and where is was to have been originally labeled on the map.  Below this, we crossed the Hole in the Wall which is a 300 foot uplifted wall, notched cross-way by many years of water erosion.
    On a separate note,  Charlie Callagan, Wilderness Coordinator for DVNP, will be conducting  guided day hikes into Copper Canyon on November 24th, February 17th and March 2nd.  This canyon is in the Black Mountains accessed off the Badwater Road.  I've taken the tour before and it's quite unique with extensive fossilized animal prints.  If you would like to go, contact Charlie directly at  charlie_callagan@nps.gov or by phone at 760-786-3244.

Thats it for now.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season.
Regards,  "Grubstake" George

The groups all here,  with the Inyo Mine in the background
When do you see Nelson Big Horn Sheep?  When you least expect it and when your 400 millimeter lens is back at camp!.
In l904, after Jack Keane's first discovery of gold in the northern Funerals, dozens of fortune seekers were combing.the mountains hoping for new strikes.  In January 1905 two prospectors, Maroni Hicks and Chet Leavitt, got lucky and discovered rich gold-bearing quartz veins in Echo Canyon.  For the rest of the story pickup the book Hiking Death Valley, Guide to its Natural Wonders and Mining Past, by author Michel Digonnet.

    Signs of ancient cultures have been found thoughout the park; rock shelters, house circles, bone and stone tools, pottery shreds, storage pits and rock alignments.  With a little imagination, they will help you reconstruct the story of the vanished cultures that, for centuries, called this place home.  If you come upon some of these remains, do not disturb them.  They are sacred to the Shoshone people, and should be treated with respect.
Past the narrows and the Indian Petroglyphs the canyon turns into a broad valley and rolling hills.   If you continue east for a few more miles you will reach a spectacular overlook on the eastern edge of the Funeral Mountains.  Commanding views of the Amargosa Desert and beyond to Mount Charleston. 
One of the best things about this group of people, is the fact that you can hike at your own pace and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings and take the time to investigate the small and seldom seen surprises of the desert.   The snake is a Lampropeltis getuls californiae.
Lunch Break, across from the Red Amphitheater
If you decide to spend time trying to find the Red Amphitheater, good luck!  The topo map gives you a large area but no red rocks that stand out.   While the group hiked up a larger canyon, I tried a small canyon to the north.  The canyon opened up into a large steep bowl.  Off to the right of this bowl is a small narrows that opens into another interesting area.  At least the coloring is correct.  
Several of us spent the evening down by Tecopa......  Its difficult to say goodbye. So I'll say; "See ya in April"..........