I noticed this gorgeous canyon to my right (southeast) as I passed it on my way to a failed attempt to climb Winters Peak from its south face a few months ago. So I naively thought I could return and drop down into this same spot and descend all the way via Funeral Slot back to Harmony Borax parking (from whence I commenced). Everything was perfect and eye candy as I meandered down the canyon and over a few easy dry falls until I hit a dry fall I was not aware of, the sixty footer named Chimney Fall (I later read about in Michel Digonnet's Hiking Death Valley) and for good reason.
I could not lean over the fall with outstretched arm far enough to capture an image of the drop-off and not knowing how far down it was except that no way was I going to scale down this one, I backed up a hundred yards or so and luckily picked out a crack in the north ridge that led to my escape from having to completely retrace the route.
I could have bypassed Chimney Fall on this north ridgeline with some difficulty but not knowing if I'd get stopped again and being tired I headed straight back to Harmony Borax via Roadrunner Rock and the main drainage.
While typing this trip report it just dawned on me how frequently bassackwards I go about exploring Death Valley. Step one: Get time off and decide when to drive the nine hours to Death Valley. Step two: Have some vague ideas of places to explore. Step three: With the goal of minimal driving in the park decide which area to explore which lately has been not too far from Furnace Creek. Step four: Get an early start - but not always, to enjoy the sunrise. Step five: Start the hike in generally the correct direction but then veer off as soon as another non-traditional route presents itself and then wander around and if lucky end up at the destination, return via another route for variety, if possible. Step six: Upon returning home get on Google Earth or into Digonnet's Hiking Death Valley or my National Geographic - Trails Unlimited Death Valley or Steve Hall's Panamint City, and figure out where the hell I've been. Step seven: Produce a video that may or may not make sense of the whole outing.
I used to try to plan out my trips to DV in great detail but then the details got in the way and I started having even more fun making things up as I went. I still don't take or rely on GPS or topo maps. I feel more like an old miner stumbling around looking for gold but this time I'm mining for great images and memories. An example is coming across my fourth bighorn ram skull and horns in the park near the entrance to this slot. The three others are in Trellis Canyon, below Panamint Pass, and a side canyon of Virgin Canyon (trip report in the works). I feel very lucky in my stumblings because rarely do I get skunked without finding some cool artifact, creature or formation.
I try to cram two adventures per day while in the park, but some are just all dayers or I'm too pooped to try another one. I usually fall asleep with a grin on my sorry mug while downloading the images or doing some basic editing at night. Sometimes it takes several weeks after returning from DV to find the time to pull the video trip reports together. So here's the latest.