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March 2019 trip

Been on a recent trip? Here is the place to share it.
MidwestDesertRat
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March 2019 trip

Post by MidwestDesertRat » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:52 pm

Hey all! I got back 2 weeks ago from another awesome visit out to Death Valley. My original plan was to try to hike some canyons but changed that up a bit when the floods happened so I could try and see some of the flooded areas. I spent basically an entire week there with a few days sprinkled in hanging out in Vegas.

Day 1 -
Stopped on the road north of Furnace Creek to walk out the "Cottonball Lake" (I think it was in the middle of Cottonball Basin. The mud was brutal and slippery in a few places especially near the lake... definitely cost me a pair of old shoes.

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Panamint Valley had some nice water too but the sunset did not cooperate much that evening. These were taken just from the side of the road.
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I spent the night in Lone Pine and had really good pizza from the pizza joint there. :)

Day 2 -

Started out this morning at the Alabama Hills. This was a much better visit imo than my visit last year if only because there was so much more snow on the Sierras.
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Heading back into DV I wanted to check out the difficulty of the Darwin Falls bypass to get to the upper falls. I am pretty confident that I found it, but both ways up that I found had a very difficult short climb to the next section. I could definitely see how an 8 year old could easily have been boosted over it by a parent though.

With the nice snow in the mountains I took a side trip down to Lee Flat to try to photograph some Joshua Trees with the neat snow capped mountain background. Saline Valley Road had a big closed sign at the park boundary and of course it was being ignored by everyone. I think about 5 or 6 vehicles, including an NPS ranger who was very helpful, passed by me in Lee Flat while I was stopped at different spots.

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I finished the day with a walk out on Badwater Basin to try to capture the night skies. I am not in love with the result.

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Day 3 -

I had a few canyons I wanted to try to get into while here but knew I couldnt get to all of them. So this morning I picked Foundry Canyon and followed Steve Hall's directions. The hike did not go as well as I'd hoped. I think I had the parking for Room instead of Foundry in my gps as the Foundry parking because I ended up taking a diagonal path to the canyon mouth. Once getting to the bottom of the mountains, I had to backtrack many times to actually get into the main canyon wash. I did come across this neat little teaser narrow along the way. Incidentally I think someone else had made the same mistake because I was following footprints for most of the way... including the backtracking.

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I will also point out that the Foundry wash is not at all easy to walk in. However I did eventually make it and was pleasantly surprised by a neat trickle of water down the not-so-dry fall... and the rock pile the previous group likely left behind to help get over the dry fall. The lens I took this photo with added a lot of distortion and the rock pile really only went about 1/4 of the way up the fall.

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I could not tell if the trickle was a seasonal thing or related to the flooding.

As Steve (and I think Kauri?) indicated, the dry fall is not as challenging as it looks to get over, and is quite fun to slide down too. What did however stop me was the bouldering above it. It is described as fairly easy and for the most part it was. However, I decided to turn around before completing what might have been the last section because I could not find a safe way around it. That was a bummer, but I was still happy to have made it that far.

I took this on the way out.

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Going back down the main wash was MUCH easier than the silly round-about way I came up. There was a small side-canyon that did not lead anywhere but its enterance created a nice border.

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About 20 minutes away from the car I started to feel a little sick to my stomach. I suspected that it was probably a touch of dehydration as I had probably not been drinking as much water as I should have been. I was not thirsty but downed a bottle of water back in the car. From that point I decided to take it easy the rest of the day. I started slowly driving up and down Badwater Road noticing a lot of really pretty spots just by the road that probably go missed by many. I also noticed a lot of tire tracks on salt flats. I really dont understand why people do that..

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I got to Dante's View just at the tail end of the sunset but still ended up with a decent image.

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Day 4 -

A nice dinner the previous night and a good night's sleep can do wonders! Unfortunately I had to make my way back to Vegas to meet up with some friends who I'd be bringing back. I started this morning climbing up the trail to the cliffs along the side of Zabriskie Point. Ive seen several photos from those locations and feel like they're often more interesting than the traditional Zabriskie Point photos. As luck would have it a photography tour group had picked this time to do the same thing. The sunrise was mostly blocked behind some clouds but it did come out long enough to cast some really cool light on Manly Beacon and then make some interesting patterns in the Panamint Mountains.

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Of course they informed me that not only was there still a large area of water in Badwater Basin that I had completely missed, but there was a secondary section with good polygons and good water. So after wishing I had known that 2 nights ago, I headed back and spent a lot of time wandering around and enjoying the cool water on my feet. The midday light was crappy for photos but the effect of the water out there was still very cool.

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I also had a really good time checking out the salt crystal patterns out there as well.

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Badwater Basin gets much more interesting once you get away from the crowds.

Day 6 -
This day was the real highlight for me. I had a couple of friends along who had never been to Death Valley before so I got to show off my favorite park. I picked Fall Canyon as a good introduction and a good destination because I was unable to get over the bypass by myself the last time I was there. This time I was able to get over (going down is much more difficult!) and Fall Canyon certainly did not disappoint! The narrows about the fall were truly breathtaking and it was awesome to show these off to my friends.

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And this was the real postcard photo for me:

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Final day :(
We stayed in Stovepipe Wells overnight and I captured this as we were heading out:

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Grotto Canyon was today's destination, because (silly me) I thought it would be shorter than Fall. The fall at the first Grotto was no joke and I knew instantly I had no chance of climbing it. One of our group made it to the top but the rest of us did not think we could and he had trouble getting back down too. So I had brought along information about the bypass but we decided to take what looked like a bypass on the left heading back downcanyon from the first grotto. This turned into a few hours of bouldering that tired me out but my friends really enjoyed. We finally made it to a point where the obstacles were becoming too difficult so we turned around. We did find the correct bypass eventually on the right back in the parking area. We made it most of the way through the bypass but turned around at a very steep gravelly section that would drop you in the side canyon. From where we were it looked like access to the main canyon was easy as well. But we decided to turn around at this point because of how much the bouldering section had taken out of us (ok, mostly out of me). I think we probably could have completed the bypass but the steep gravel section did look difficult going up and down... and it was mid-afternoon and lunch sounded really good.

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I took them out to Badwater Basin (my third trip there in 6 days!) hoping to find some water but it surprisingly had evaporated over the 2 days since I had been there. We finished the trip by going back to Zabriskie Point to show off some of Death Valley's badlands and ended up having some really nice soft sunset light while we were there. It was a really nice and peaceful way to end the trip.

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Overall we had a really amazing time in Death Valley and we plan on coming back, hopefully later this year.

PS! Sorry for the length! These images turned out larger than I expected when I exported them!

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Kauri
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by Kauri » Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:58 am

Great photos! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your report!
My trip reports, from Death Valley and beyond: http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... eports.php

D.A. Wright
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by D.A. Wright » Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:32 am

Simply beautiful and a joy to look at!
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~When You Live in Nevada, "just down the road" is anywhere in the line of sight within the curvature of the earth.

TrailHound
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by TrailHound » Fri Mar 29, 2019 5:29 pm

A sensational report. Thank you, thank you, for posting. What is wrong with the night shot of Badwater Basin? I love it.

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netllama
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by netllama » Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:13 pm

Thanks for sharing some fantastic photos!

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wbdeford
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by wbdeford » Fri Mar 29, 2019 8:19 pm

Great stuff! Loved the Panamints reflected in the water....I got that in November 2015, but without the snow--the upper Panamints look so much nicer with snow.

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TacoLand
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by TacoLand » Fri Mar 29, 2019 9:18 pm

Top shelf report and photos to match. I was also in the Park for four nights in the middle of March, oddly though none of my pictures are nearly as nice as yours! Thanks for taking all the time to put this together and share with everyone here. Cheers!

MidwestDesertRat
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by MidwestDesertRat » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:15 am

Thanks all! It was quite a fun trip.

@Tacoland - I am sure you have some great photos as well. I remember you talking about the Willow Creek - Sidewinder loop, did you do that one? That was on my list but I ended up not having the time for it because I wanted to check out these places with the water.

@wbdeford - I really like how they look with the snow too. I find it interesting have the snow covered mountains looking over the hottest and driest place in the country. The water was a nice bonus. I kinda wanted to get back to Vegas quickly that evening but I should have stuck around and done another sunset out there in the water. The wind was not too bad at all.

@TrailHound - It is mostly frustration from not being out in the water to get a really good reflection of the moon and mountains. The photo itself is good. Although I have no idea why it is small than the others in the post.

@Kauri - Am I correct that you had also visited Foundry Canyon?

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Kauri
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by Kauri » Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:57 pm

Yes, I visited Foundry Canyon, then told Steve Hall that the lower narrows are accessible to hikers.

I'm sorry you didn't get to see the narrows above the boulder section. There may have been some erosion since I was there, from looking at your photo of the initial dry fall, which could have made things more difficult. When I first visited the second dip canyon at Artist's Palette, I couldn't find a way through the boulders, but on a second try a few years later it seemed quite easy, and I'd wondered if things had changed slightly after a rainy season.
My trip reports, from Death Valley and beyond: http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... eports.php

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TacoLand
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by TacoLand » Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:01 am

MidwestDesertRat wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:15 am
@Tacoland - I am sure you have some great photos as well. I remember you talking about the Willow Creek - Sidewinder loop, did you do that one? That was on my list but I ended up not having the time for it because I wanted to check out these places with the water.
Unfortunately I didn't get to revisit that loop. We only had time for one last hike due to time constraints and ended up doing Kaleidoscope Canyon instead, as it was new to me. In the end I was definitely okay with that decision as the trailhead lot for Willow/Sidewinder was filled with vehicles and we had Kaleidoscope all to ourselves, other than one super pleasant dude from the Netherlands.

MidwestDesertRat
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by MidwestDesertRat » Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:09 pm

TacoLand wrote:
Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:01 am
Unfortunately I didn't get to revisit that loop. We only had time for one last hike due to time constraints and ended up doing Kaleidoscope Canyon instead, as it was new to me. In the end I was definitely okay with that decision as the trailhead lot for Willow/Sidewinder was filled with vehicles and we had Kaleidoscope all to ourselves, other than one super pleasant dude from the Netherlands.
Right? I was shocked when I drove by the Willow / Sidewinder parking area and saw at least a dozen vehicles in there. I didnt mention it in my report, but this was the most people Ive ever seen in Death Valley by far. All of the main lots were overflowing and we were sharing Fall with about 20 or so others.. and 3 others at least were in Grotto. Furnace Creek was totally booked and there was not much available at Stovepipe Wells from what they told me there.

@Kauri - quite possibly. The dry fall would have been difficult if it were not for the stack of rocks. After looking at Steve Hall's pictures, I think I actually did stop and turn around at the very end of the boulder obstacles. Had I known I think I would have pressed on, but it was still a nice visit and a great half-day hike if you park at the right place.

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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Sun Mar 31, 2019 5:18 pm

Hey, MidwestDesertRat,

Sure loved your trip report and all of those lovely images. The different lighting and variety of your images were captivating. You covered much territory in your few days in the park and appear to have really enjoyed the whole experience. Thanks for sharing!
Life begins in Death Valley

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TacoLand
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by TacoLand » Sun Mar 31, 2019 5:43 pm

MidwestDesertRat wrote:
Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:09 pm
Right? I was shocked when I drove by the Willow / Sidewinder parking area and saw at least a dozen vehicles in there. I didnt mention it in my report, but this was the most people Ive ever seen in Death Valley by far. All of the main lots were overflowing and we were sharing Fall with about 20 or so others.. and 3 others at least were in Grotto. Furnace Creek was totally booked and there was not much available at Stovepipe Wells from what they told me there.
Yeah, it was a little disheartening – though not Super Bloom bad, yeesh! I don't know if traffic has substantially picked up in the Park or what, but my key to solitude lately is a combination of rough 4x4 roads to desolate locations and long hikes – we averaged 14 miles a day. Both tend to thin out the crowds. Curious to see what the crowds are like when I head down this week, though still can't kick this cold. Details and a double-trip report to follow, hopefully!

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Rockhopper
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by Rockhopper » Sun Mar 31, 2019 5:49 pm

Those are fantastic photos! You balanced the dynamic range in the Fall Canyon shots beautifully. It's one of my favorite canyons too.

We did Palmer, the next canyon north of Fall, this time around. Never done it; nice enough narrows but not as majestic as Fall. Nobody else was there, though there were some tracks...

There were five or six groups hiking Sidewinder the day Laura and I did it this year (3/27?) but we didn't get in each other's way. Nice people, all of them.

Hopping a ledge in Palmer:

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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: March 2019 trip

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Tue Apr 02, 2019 5:22 am

Rockhopper wrote:
Sun Mar 31, 2019 5:49 pm
Hopping a ledge in Palmer:
What a gorgeous image with that lighted ridge in the background. I just can't get enough of this wonderful stuff. Thanks for adding it to this thread.
Life begins in Death Valley

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