Greenwater Valley Road, Photos by Karen "Red" James
This November's DVHA outing began Friday night with another outstanding Italian feast. The night was perfect. Everyone went to sleep sated.
Drycamp brought a new hiker, Vince, who is now officially the youngest DVHA hiker. A couple from Oregon, Skip and Bonnie were first-timers to our group too, although Bonnie stayed in camp with "Derelict" Dave, Don's friend from Reno.
As in last year, the hike started from Miller Springs on Saturday morning, but six of the hikers missed it last year, so Don set out with them across Greenwater Valley, as we wouldn't want anyone to miss the entire experience of doing the southernmost portion of the Desert Trail. A bit of deja vu for Silvia, Bob, Al and me, so we did the car shuttle. Which took most of the day with a couple of stops, at the mouth of the infamous Willow Creek and at Rhoades Spring, where we spent some time checking out the wonderful cabin. We also had a mission: to find a piece of tailight that fell off Gene's truck on the dirt road the evening before. Amazingly, I found it.
The group met up mid afternoon at the top of Gold Valley. Saturday was another perfect night, no wind, few clouds, great stars and moderate temperatures, unlike last year when I thought I would freeze to death.
Sunday morning we were hiking early, up and over the saddle to the head of Sheep Canyon. Watch that first step, its steep! There was evidence of sheep, but if anyone spotted one, that would have been Bill, who as always, was way out in front. The few dry falls were a piece of cake after last years adventure in Willow Creek Canyon. A light steady rain began to fall mid morning. Which kept the temperature nice, and made the rocks much more beautiful.
Everyone made it across the alluvial fan to the vehicles by 3:00 p.m. and we all crammed into Al and Silvia's trucks and shuttled back to Greenwater Valley. Stan drove the guys back into Gold Valley to retrieve Don and Bob's vehicles. They came back down that road in the pitch dark! Looked a bit treachous from camp.
Although it took two years to do it, we have officially finished the first leg of the Desert Trail in Death Valley. Looking forward to seeing more next year. Hope everyone else does too.
Friday evening campsite, about seven miles north of Hwy 127, on the Greenwater Valley road. The mining past lay all around us, old broken glass bottles, rusted cans, remnants of rock foundations.
The hikers start out Saturday morning across Greenwater Valley headed for Gold Valley and Sheep Canyon. Great day for hiking, cool temps, no wind and a little overcast.
Alkali Al, Claimjumper, and Drycamp check out ruins of the main cone-crushing element of the Rhodes Springs mill, which measures eight feet in diameter.
The shuttle crew hiking up wash towards Willow Creek Canyon. Could not have asked for a better day. Its a rough life but someone has to do it.
Rhodes Spring cabin.
The group Sunday morning, a good nights sleep, full day packs and ready to go early.
The saddle above Sheep Canyon looking down to the valley floor 4830 feet below. The Panamint mountains across the valley were snow capped by earlier snow storms. This was a great spot to take a break and admire the beauty that is Death Valley.
One of the many rock falls. Like Red mentioned. They were a piece of cake compared to the ones in Willow Creek Canyon. Don't ask us how we know...
Sunday afternoon hiking down Sheep Canyon. The light rain brought out the color in all the rocks.
Lunch break underneath rock overhang. Wanted to thank Stan for his outdoor geology class. It was a treat learning about the surrounding rock formations.
Entering the narrows in lower Sheep Canyon.
The wet valley floor below. Sunday afternoon turned out to be all rain. Just ask Silvia and Stan who rode in the back of the pickup truck 41 miles back to Greenwater Valley.
The view looking back up into Sheep Canyon thru the rain and rainbow. Walked out on the playa until my hiking boots weighed ten pounds apiece. This hike worked out just the way it was suppose to. Wanted to thank everyone for making this a wonderful experience.
Grubstake mentions in his book that the next two sections lie in stark contrast to all other sections of the Death Valley Desert Trail. After steep canyons and high valleys, the route now crosses the flat, below-sea-level, salt crusted valley floor and seasonal Amargosa River. Vegetation and animal life are near nonexistant and perception of distance is highly distorted.
Don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to it. Till then, Happy Trails thru Life