A few weeks ago I started a report on our Spring Break trip to Death Valley and other cool (warm) places with a bit on the Eureka Dunes. Time to move on to DV proper for the second installment!
To get from the Eureka Dunes to Furnace Creek, you have two choices. You can (after driving the excruciatingly rough 10 miles back to the "main" road) turn right, and drive roughly 50 miles of decent, but still washboardy, dirt to Scotty's Castle, then the 50 miles or so of pavement on south to Furnace Creek. Or you can do what we did: turn left and backtrack to Bishop, take US 395 south to Lone Pine, and then follow the main road past Owens Lake and over the Inyo Mountains, down past Panamint Springs (a spectacular bit of road, and well worth the drive), up over Towne Pass (at about 5000') and down down down to Stovepipe Wells at 5' above sealevel, then around the corner...it was getting late, the wind was fierce, and the Death Valley Dunes were in the process of relocating themselves.
Next day, being thwarted in our desire to rent a jeep (see note about reservations), we went for a hike in the deservedly popular Mosaic Canyon, back around by Stovepipe Wells (another word to the wise: starting early for such hikes not only beats the heat, but the crowds. We were so-so about start time, but at 10ish there was still parking. When we emerged around 1, no way).
|Starting into the canyon. You can kind of tell there's something good.|
The marble is well polished by flood waters (which periodically re-lay the canyon floor--it's no place to be in a cloud-burst!).
|This wasn't marble, but still really cool rock.|
|Phacelia. For some people (my spouse!) this plant has an irritant effect much like that of poison oak. It's still beautiful.|
|Some of the more interesting bits are optional. You don't HAVE to walk this ridge above the flat, smooth canyon floor!|
|The Spouse tackles the Falls with grace and aplomb. I like to make him go first, as I do less well with photos taken from behind and below.|
The hike ended for Second Son and for me at the Third Narrows, with this unclimbable falls (well, it can be climbed, but only with gear and skill). The Spouse and Eldest Son found a by-pass that we didn't like, so we began the amble back to lunch, giving us a nice head start on the other two.
|"Can I climb it?"|
The entire hike was probably only about 3 hours, but with bits to explore and climb and photograph, it took us about 2 1/2 hours. It was hot by then, so we refreshed ourselves with ice cream at Stovepipe Wells, and a drive up past Wildrose Campground (4100') until we found flowers, and storm clouds. It wasn't a good year for flowers--there was some rain about the right time, but the spring was too hot. Higher up, though, there were places with flowers, if you were willing to look.
|Always a favorite (and they grow pretty nearly everywhere): Indian Paintbrush|
Next week: Jeep Tours!
Text and photos ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2015