Salt Creek (Death Valley National Park) 13-Nov-2021

After five days of ceaseless adventuring, we faced the long drive home on the morrow. So, for Adventure #6, we decided to visit close-by attractions – Salt Creek and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes – that we’d previously by-passed in favor of more remote, less crowded destinations. We beat the crowds at Salt Creek but were engulfed by them at the dunes – but we still got to see some interesting stuff.

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Saratoga & Ibex Springs (Death Valley National Park) 12-Nov-2021

We had one more day of 4×4 available to us, so we decided to make Adventure #5 a visit to Saratoga Spring and Ibex Spring at the south end of Death Valley National Park. This proved to be a day of minimal hiking and much off-road driving. We could have gotten to Saratoga with a 2WD car but a high-clearance 4×4 was a definite plus for the short, but lumpy, ride out to Ibex.

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Rogers Peak (Death Valley National Park) 11-Nov-2021

We’d spent yesterday bouncing around in a 4×4, so today we needed to hike. A long, long time ago (i.e., 1974), Wayne, Diane, and I climbed Telescope Peak, the highest point in Death Valley National Park. That proved to be a truly memorable trip but one we weren’t interested in repeating. But, inspired by nostalgia enhanced by memory loss, we decided it would be fun (loosely defined) to hike to a closer, lower peak within sight of Telescope. Rogers Peak (9,993 ft / 3,045 m) is only 5 miles round-trip (8 km) from and 1,800 feet (549 m) above Mahogany Flat. And you can see Telescope from its summit. Plus it’s slightly taller than nearby Bennett Peak. So summiting Rogers became Adventure #4 of our adventures in Death Valley.

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Saline Valley (Death Valley National Park) 10-Nov-2021

When we were tossing around possible adventures for our time in Death Valley National Park, Wayne and Diane mentioned that they’d always wanted to see Saline Valley, which is about 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Furnace Creek. I had been there once before in the mid-1980s; The LovedOne had never been there. Saline Valley is one of the most remote and hard to reach places in the park. While you can make it there and back in a 2WD vehicle (bring extra tires!), a high-clearance 4×4 increases your chances of not spending many unplanned hours stuck in the desert. Since we had access to a 4×4, why not go for a visit?

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Sidewinder Canyon (Death Valley National Park) 09-Nov-2021

Sidewinder and Willow Canyons run next to each other on the west side of the Black Mountains about 30 miles (48 km) south of Furnace Creek. The hike to either starts from a minimally signed gravel pit just off of the Bad Water Road. We hiked to the waterfall (which was running!) in Willow Canyon in 2017 and had planned to hike the slot side canyons in Sidewinder that same day. On that occasion, our car was the only one in the parking lot when we left for Willow. When we got back not too much later, the lot was near to full and lines of people were heading for Sidewinder. We decided to hike it later. We didn’t appreciate at that moment just how much “later” later would prove to be. So Sidewinder became (finally) Adventure #2 for this year’s trip to Death Valley.

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Marble Canyon (Death Valley National Park) 08-Nov-2021

This last week, we went with our long-time friends, Wayne and Diane, on what might best be described as several “multi-modal” adventures in Death Valley National Park. We combined stand-alone hikes with those facilitated by a 4×4 vehicle and threw in some touristy stuff too. This was our first chance to spend time with them since our San Juan raft trip last June (a planned mule-packing trip in September succumbed to a critical medical issue and way too much wildfire smoke 😥). In all, we did six different adventures over six sun-drenched 😎 days, then drove home just in time to meet the next batch of rain and snow aimed at Southern Oregon. 🥶

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2020 ~ Adventures with The LovedOne

Oh, 2020. You seemed so nice when we first met. You were fun for two months, then you turned ugly. Real ugly. A plague and a recession and wildfires and an election and continuing drought. Yes sir, you threw quite a bit of hurt at us! Yes you did! But we survived. And The LovedOne remained photogenic while social distancing from others kept her within camera range.


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Telescope Peak ~ Death Valley (Thanksgiving 1974)

Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on 35mm slides. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the slides haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. The photos below are some of those old slides.


Telescope Peak, at 11,049 feet (3,368 m), is the highest point in Death Valley National Park. My recent trip with The LovedOne to the park rekindled long dormant memories of my first (and only) climb of this peak. It was Thanksgiving 1974 and Wayne and I (miraculously in my case) were recent college graduates; Diane had a year to go. I think Wayne had even found a job! Why is lost in the mists of time but we decided to use the holiday weekend to climb Telescope. Today it’s typically done as a long (14 miles round-trip, 3,000 feet of gain) day hike from the trailhead at Mahogany Flats Campground. We, on the other hand, opted for an overnighter, with a camp on the ridge just short of the summit.

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Saddle Rock Mine (Death Valley NP) 25-Jan-2020

Sunlit cactus at Saddle Rock Mine, Death Valley National Park, California

After two hikes in the Funeral Mountains in Death Valley National Park, we went across the valley into the more happily-named Panamint Range. Between 1908 and 1917, the mines around the town of Skidoo, located high in this range, became Death Valley’s second largest gold producers. Skidoo’s first gold strike was made, not at the abandoned townsite you can reach today by road, but at the Saddle Rock Mine about a mile to the southwest. This mine was active between 1906 and 1910, a road was built to it in 1929, and miners grubbed at it until the 1960s. That 1929 road, although now reduced to just a good trail in places, can still be used to reach the old mine site. This road was built along a ridge and a hike on it afforded us some of the biggest views to be had of northern Death Valley.

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Funeral Slot Canyon (Death Valley NP) 24-Jan-2020

Hiking in Funeral Slot Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

There are probably a lot of deep slot canyons in Death Valley National Park, but not many of them are particularly long or readily accessible. Funeral Slot Canyon, located 3.5 miles northwest of Furnace Creek Ranch, is an exception. We had planned to hike it in September 2018 but had to take a pass when we found the trailhead at Texas Springs Campground closed. Which was for the better since it was way too hot then to be walking six shadeless miles in a wash just to see a really, really narrow canyon. This year we arrived when the campground was open and the hiking weather excellent.

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Big Bell Extension Mine (Death Valley NP) 23-Jan-2020

Cyty's Mill, Death Valley National Park, California

After we finished our “make-up” hikes near Las Vegas, we headed north to do some new (to us) hikes in Death Valley National Park. In 2018, we had paid a long awaited revisit to the Keane Wonder Mine. Access to the mine (one of the few in the valley that actually returned a profit) had been closed for several years for safety reasons but had reopened in 2017. Our hike of it in September was HOT but nonetheless very enjoyable. While perusing Michel Digonnet’s excellent Hiking Death Valley guide, we found a hike that started at the Keane Wonder’s trailhead but swung north, past Keane Wonder Springs and Cyty’s Mill, then climbed to the site of the Big Bell Extension Mine.

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