Did I mention 3 of us on this hike were Peace Corps volunteers? I love that. We are still trying to save the world in our own ways.
We woke in our rabbit brush rooms to the first light and quickly ate our breakfast and finished our coffee. Today was Marble Canyon!
Now I don’t have much knowledge of Death Valley, but when I told a few people where we were hiking, they got a glint in their eye when I mentioned Marble Canyon. The word was petroglyphs and incredible canyon walls.
The canyon started slowly and morphed from an open chaparral landscape to more confined granite walls a mile or two in. The colors and patterns were dramatic and got even more so as the day progressed. We would stop occasionally to ooo and ahh at the crystals in the rock, or the striking folds of the earth. We could tell there had been a recent flooding event, and there was a mud wall plastered to the side of the canyon much like the ring in a bathtub, and it could have been from a recent rain event about a month ago that closed the road to the original section we were looking at doing.
Two of the hikers, Kim and Dave, decided to do a side loop down Dead Horse Canyon, so the group split up and reconnected about an hour later.
The canyon got really good after that and had narrows smoothed by years of water erosion. Simply incredible. We spotted some petroglyphs and took a few minutes trying to decipher the images. At another spot a few of us climbed up to reach some others, and after lunch break I got up from my tyvek seat to see a scorpion scurry out from underneath. Eeek!
Lots more interesting walls, a chockstone we had fun posing with, and some pretty easy walking took us to the spot where the canyon widened enough for cars to drive in to find Dave Chamness there with water for us. Very excellent!
Skip’s foot was bothering him, so he decided to head back to stovepipe wells with Dan while the rest of us continued on. We walked within a mile of the canyon opening and found camp on a sand bench above the gravel drainage/road.
It’s warm tonight. We lost over 4,000’ of elevation today, but it doesn’t feel like it, except it is a warm mild night. Tomorrow we will finish the hike and we are already talking about the celebratory meal we will eat together at the restaurant.