Wednesday, December 11, 2013

12/11 Golden Canyon, Death Valley

I had stopped by this side canyon briefly a couple of days ago, but it was late and the sun was getting low, making it hard to get good photos.  I decided to come back today when there was a ranger tour.  So I joined about a dozen other people in the parking lot and we headed up. 

The trail is actually a four-mile long loop, but I can't walk that long, but I did manage the half-mile walk and go a few hundred feet farther before I decided it was time to head back.  Believe it or not, this canyon once had a road in it and cars traveled the whole four miles.  This first photo shows the entrance.

Can you believe driving a car through here in the 30s?

Or through here?

The roadway has collapsed here because rocks have fallen from the canyon walls. The rock here is an amalgam of hardened mud and different kinds of rocks.  You can still see how narrow the canyon was here, however.

This is a chunk of the remaining asphalt.  Yes, it was actually a paved road!!  And it looks like there were two layers of asphalt.

There are a lot of small side canyons.  This one is a bit wider than most, but almost all are appropriate only for scrambling by 12-year-olds. You can't tell from this photo, but it is pretty steep.

This part of the canyon is a lot wider.  Actually, if they would put a ramp over the one rockslide area, this walk could almost be handicap accessible.

This is looking back to the valley and the Panamint Mountains in the distance.

This has been a very nice time to come to Death Valley because of the cool weather and very few tourists.  The campgrounds and hotels were pretty empty, as were the roads.  Tomorrow I head to Las Vegas, after a stop at a nature preserve that was recommended to me.  I need to get back to civilization so I can get a new electric heater, get my bike tire fixed, get some repairs done to my motorhome, and run some other errands.
12/12 Postscript:  As I was leaving Death Valley this morning, I stopped at Zabriskie Point, which is where the Golden Canyon hiking trail exits.  Here are three photos of that area.  The last one shows some hikers on the old automotive road.

Can you see the tiny hikers on the road?  The only way you can really tell it is a road is that in places it is shored up with rock retaining walls.

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