Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wolf Tracks at Two Ocean Lake

Another fishscale tour into Two Ocean and Emma Matilda Lakes, this time DC and I were hoping to sight the wolf pack that has been active in the area. (Taking pictures of footprints in the snow is a bit of a challenge.) Some wolves have been using ski tracks to walk in, much easier walking even for them rather than postholing in the 12-18" of sugary depth hoar with a breakable crust on top. No wolf activity over at Emma Matilda Lake, but the views of the Tetons were good.

Just to say we tried this, here's my trip entry on EveryTrail

Two Ocean - Emma Matilda Lakes

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Playing the Slots in Death Valley

We did a really interesting canyon hike in Death Valley: Sidewinder Canyon. The canyon itself is a pretty desert wash with some nice views across the valley. The real attraction is the narrow slot canyons that enter the main wash. Some of these slots are so dark that you need a headlamp or flashlight in places. Definitely don't want to be here in wet weather.

This picture shows a doorway cut through an older fin. The slot originally went out and around (behind where I'm standing), then water cut a new channel through the bottom of the fin. We saw several places like this.

(Click on photo to enlarge).

Picasa album with more pictures.

GPS track and photos on

I got the beta on this hike from Jim Boone's web site Hiking Around Las Vegas. He has excellent information on day hikes in Lake Mead NRA, Death Valley, etc.

Death Valley Views

Yes, that's a lake at the bottom of Death Valley. January was very rainy, so Lake Manly has about 8" of water.

We decided to leave a day early because the weather turned cold and windy. That's not a sandstorm on the valley floor, it's blowing *salt*

(Click any photo to enlarge)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Death Valley -- Marble Canyon

The first 8 miles from the highway are badly washboarded dirt road, with some deep sand thrown in for good measure. Then you drop into the Cottonwood/Marble wash itself for several miles, high clearance necessary, 4WD highly recommended though it's not technical, just slow going in spots. We didn't drive in all the way to the trailhead, not knowing the road situation up ahead when we saw a good spot to park up out of the wash we took it. Alas, that meant several extra miles of hiking; very scenic desert wash hiking, but we did run out of time and didn't get all the way to uppermost narrows in Marble Canyon itself (3 miles from the trailhead). Marble Canyon itself alternates between sections of narrows and sections of more open wash.

Second narrows

Next time, driving all the way to the trailhead would be my choice, if the backcountry office says the roads are passable. There is a good open area for camping up out of the wash about 1/4 mile before the junction of Cottonwood and Marble Canyons.

(Click on any of the pictures to enlarge)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Death Valley - Red Wall Canyon

We took a break from the mediocre ski conditions at home, and went for a few days of desert hiking in Death Valley. After a guided tour through Scotty's Castle (very interesting) we started with a hike at Red Wall Canyon. 2.3 miles from the road to the mouth of the canyon shown above.

It was maybe three-fourths of a mile to the first pourover. There was a fixed rope in place that seemed to be in decent condition. (Looked like it was also passable with some 5.4-ish climbing up the left side.) We turned around here anyway, so what lies beyond is still a mystery to us.

(Click any of the pictures to enlarge)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Emma Matilda Lake

Nice day, but it feels more like mid-March instead of mid-February!