Towards the end of our week in Death Valley, a pal from Portland joined us: Mike Glane, high school chemistry teacher; loves all things outdoors; energy and enthusiasm of a Jack Russell Terrier. (Lori or Celia–is the “Terrier” capitalized? I think not but did it anyway.) We left Moby and struck out for the nearest canyon. None of us had been there before. There wasn’t a trail. It’s not in any of our hiking books. But what a wonderful place it was, as you will see.
First find of the day: a tinaja, a pocket in the rock that holds water. The pocket is formed over time when flood water and rocks scour the streambed. Larry can’t resist stirring it up a bit to see what might be lurking on the bottom.
View of the canyon from above.
Mike finds more tinajas!
Note how gravel and rocks remain on the downstream side of the tinajas where the water dropped them as current slowed.
Valentine’s Day Tinaja
Runoff from the red clay hill above these pools has created a spectacular contrast of red stain on white rock.
How long ago since it rained? The shallow spots are all dried up.
Larry considers taking a drink.
These tinajas are full of red silt suspended in the water as well as teeming with larva of large gnats. Thirsty anyone?
Mike busts on ahead, scouting a route of the canyon. That spot in the middle that looks like a green shrub is Mike!
Flowers in the upper canyon.
Near the top, Larry asks Mike to run into town and bring back some beers.
A stunning find on the way back out: the imprint of ancient camel footprints. (For Tad, that’s a trace or ichnofossil.) Larry says these are likely several million years old.
These prints are big, but not as large as ones from mastodons found elsewhere in Death Valley.
The walk out down a narrow canyon.
Back at Moby, Mike journals while Larry looks grumpy. In truth, he’s exhausted from a day of trying to keep up with Mike.