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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2018 ~ Adventures with The LovedOne

Another year and The LovedOne is still not keen on having her picture taken. She has countered by hiking ahead of me (and faster) so as to stay out of camera range. Fortunately, subterfuge and deception allow me to get close enough, from time to time, for a photo.

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Desolation Canyon (Death Valley NP) 26-Sep-2018

Desolation Canyon Death Valley National Park California

After yesterday’s adventure on Mount Perry, we decided that a fun, but shorter, hike was called for. The less than four mile round-trip hike up Desolation Canyon, whose trailhead is just four miles from Furnace Creek, seemed ideal (and it was). This hike reaches into the Black Mountains and features a few narrow sections (but not true “slot” canyon narrow), a touch of scrambling, some colorful rock formations, and ends with a nice view out over Death Valley. We were able to complete it before the air temperature got much above 85º F (29º C) – it would eventually top out at 110º F (43º C). When the weather is cooler, you’re advised to do this hike in the afternoon, when the sun highlights the colorful rock formations. That would have been nice but we were happy to be in the shade for most of the hike.  

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Mount Perry (Death Valley NP) 25-Sep-2018

Dantes View Mount Perry Death Valley National Park California

One way to (somewhat) beat the heat during the hot months (April – October) in Death Valley is to go up to one of the higher hikes, like Telescope Peak or Wildrose Peak. Having already hiked those, we cast around for another higher altitude option and came upon Mount Perry (5,716 feet). The well-defined 4.3 mile use trail (it’s actually as good as some built trails) from road’s end at Dantes View to Perry runs down and up and down and up along the crest of the Black Mountains at around 5,000 feet. The first half-mile to Dantes View Peak (5,704 feet) is a popular short hike (seemingly called the Dantes Ridge hike) for those wanting yet more of a view that they get from the observation platform at road’s end. There are spectacular views east and west from all along the trail, and to the north from Perry’s summit.

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Keane Wonder Mine (Death Valley NP) 24-Sep-2018

Keane Wonder Mine Death Valley National Park California

One winter long, long ago, and unbeknownst to either of us, The LovedOne and I camped at Furnace Creek in Death Valley – she with her family, me with a friend. We didn’t discover this coincidence (or was it fate?) until our marriage 20 years later. I wrapped myself – in my cheap, inadequate sleeping bag – around a creosote bush for warmth while she huddled with other family members (and warm dog) in their uninsulated and unheated pop-up camper. So what we remember most about about our separate desert camping experiences was how terrifically COLD it was at night!

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