DVHA March 31 & April 1, 2007   Bighorn Gorge
    The Death Valley Hiker Association met at Mesquite Springs for our world famous spaghetti dinner.  On the way back from China Ranch I knew that my little geo tracker needed gas so I returned to Beatty, Nevada.  The gas is almost $1.00 cheaper plus the candy shop sells homemade ice cream.  When I got to Mesquite Springs Campground, Gus and Andy were talking to a ranger at the restroom, great meeting place.  As we were renewing old acquaintances along came Stan, then Karen, Gene, Kevin, and Bob with his friend Hal.  Where was Silvia, she has the food?  Soon all of us were together in our adjoining campsites preparing for our world famous spaghetti dinner.  Each year I believe it improves. 

    The biggest problem in the morning was to figure which vehicle would go to the trailhead and which would stay and we had 3 people who would not return to the trailhead.  This was really unique in our car pooling.  Everyone had their own car and we had four vehicles going to the trailhead which left two to return the six hikers and their gear later on Sunday to get the other vehicles.  The three who were not staying over Sunday night had their vehicles left at Mesquite.  We left the campground at 7:30 for the top of the mountain.  It took us over three hours to make it, although we used Teakettle Junction for a regrouping spot.   There was a beautiful teapot left on the pole just three days earlier.  It was uphill for many miles and over some very scenic country.  The road got very narrow and steep as we neared the end, so much in fact that we left Silvia's truck along the road.  That gave us three vehicles at the end of the mining road.  There was still room for the other two to be able to turn around when the group returned after the hike.  Everything worked out great.
    The first part of the trail was not very exciting.  We were just in a wash going downhill.  At each junction with another wash previous hikers had set up ducks (trail markers) to help guide them back to their vehicles.  The weather was probable in the low 50's which was great for hiking.  As we got to the first narrows Kevin was leading and found a 10-12 foot fall ahead, he returned to us and we found a bypass.  It wasn't a very good one but we climbed uphill helping each other get around some obstacles.  We don't think it was the preferred bypass but it worked for us.

    We had lots of dry falls that needed help getting down for most of us.  We could have done it by ourselves but with safety in mind we worked together.  Soon we were at the 60' dryfall, it was very impressive and there was no way down, it was vertical.  Andy and Chuck being too bright saw a trail way up on what looked to be a rock slide area.  Well the 'trail' was a Desert Mountain Sheep trail and the slope was a rock slide.  That didn't stop the not too bright hikers.  Chuck led and poor Andy followed.  We were half way up when the rest of the group came into view.  They agreed we were lacking any smarts.  Well, Stan found the downhill scrambling passage.  He carried everyone's pack over the boulders then returned to assist the rest down.  By the time Chuck and Andy had 'rode the rock avalanche's down, the last of the sane hikers had bypassed the fall.  What Chuck and Andy had done was very dangerous.  We had circumvented the fall by crossing a sheep bedding area then slided down on top of small rock slide. 

    The rest of the group said if the way we had went was the only way, they would have went back to the vehicles.  We continued on, really appreciating the wonderful weather.  Many dry falls were encounterd and most of the time assistance was given to the others from the first one down.  Andy and Gus were taking many pictures along the way and I wish they could all be included in this narrative.  Most of the photos shown here are from them.

    On we continued.  We came across an area on both sides that had fossils for, it seemed like a quarter of a mile.  They were in a vein about four feet high.  We also found two remains of bighorn sheep.  We really enjoyed this canyon.  The hike after we left the canyon, meaning walking down the alluvial fan, was very tiring.  It was hard on our feet, the sun was out and hot but with our friends the total trip was overwhelming great.  We took breaks whenever shade was available. 

    It was time to seperate when we reached Mesquite Springs Campground.  Gus, Gene, and Chuck had to leave.  The rest of the group returned to their vehicles via Bob and Kevins vehicles.  They stayed a few days and explored the Lost Burro Mine and Dry Bone Canyon.  
To view Andy's pictures of the Spring 2007 in Death Valley Hiker click here
                  
I must apologize to Andy as he sent me the photos in order but I managed to screw that up very quickly.  Opps.  Will try and get that one figured out next time.  Thanks Chuck for the great write up.
The bypass was enjoyable, we got to see the area below once we were on top.  It was a great view, but a long bypass.
This is only one of the narrow sections of Bighorn Gorge.
If you look hard Chuck is in the middle of the photo with Andy somewhere on the left.
We also found two remains of bighorn sheep.
Paleozoic era fossils, probably ammonites or as I say snail fossils.
Karen, Kevin, Gene, Silvia, Bob, and Stan taking a break in Death Valley wash on their way back to Mesquite Springs Campground.
Photo credits go to Andy and Gus