Saturday, May 4, 2013

Desert Destination: Death Valley--Golden Canyon & Salt Creek

 Our Death Valley adventure continued after Badwater with a jaunt to Golden Canyon. This is one of the easiest canyons to hike, so I thought it would be perfect for the kids. But it turned out I had a rather whiny kid who did not want to hike, no matter what. I tried to distract him by pointing out the pavement--a road used to go up Golden Canyon, but a flash flood in 1976 that dumped over two inches of rain undermined the road and washed most of it out. That distraction lasted all of about 2.3 seconds.

 I noticed some people duck into a side canyon ahead of us, and we took their cue. It was really cool, and Desert Girl and I had so much fun going up the narrow passage. Mr. Whiny? He hung out near the entrance, pouting.
 Next we found a little cave under some boulders, which I checked out to look for snakes--it would be a perfect place for them to escape the heat. When I didn't see any, I let the kids go in. Desert Girl was up for the challenge, but not Desert Boy.

 Finally I found something that really distracted him--a climbing wall. Here the sedimentary layers have been steeply tilted, making for some fun, but crumbly scrambling.

That distraction changed Desert Boy's attitude. He was now ready to have some fun, so we played the shadow game, trying to stay in the shade of the canyon. If we ran out of shade, we would try to get to the next bit of shade in ten seconds or we would melt. It was a good game and got us up to a part of the canyon that was rather straight and wide and didn't look so interesting. We decided this would be a good place to turn around. But first--one more side trip into a side canyon.

 The canyon was narrow enough we could touch both walls at the same time.

 It had some fun climbing obstacles (and the dry waterfall in the photo above wasn't quite as steep as the photo makes it look!).

 Finally we got to a place where it was a little too tough for us to continue. (Plus we had run out of bandaids.) So we took some photos and headed back down, enjoying a game of hide 'n seek along the way. My advice for Golden Canyon? It's one of the most popular hikes in Death Valley because it's so easy to get to and not too difficult. If you want to get away from the crowds, just slip into one of the many side canyons--they are fun and you don't know what you will find!

By the time we finished, it was time for lunch and swimming. I was lucky in that some teenage girls who had been lounging around the pool for a week were ready for a distraction and played with the kids for a long time. They even taught Desert Boy how to dive. It was great, and I appreciated some relaxation time.

 In the late afternoon we went to Salt Creek to look at the pupfish. Spring is mating time, and we saw thousands of pupfish in the creek. The kids thought it was really cool.

 Desert Boy shows with his fingers how big the fish are.

 A blurry, colorful pupfish. It is so amazing that this fish can survive in such a harsh locale. In fact, thinking about the huge lake, Lake Manly, that used to fill Death Valley and that had many fish species in it, kind of blows my mind.

Salt Creek was an excellent late afternoon stop. Then it was back to our campsite for some more relaxing. We went to bed early, as we wanted to get up early the next morning to pack up and see the sand dunes on our way across Death Valley.

1 comment:

Survivalsense said...

I backpacked death Valley in 1977. Your story brings back great memories!


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