Friday, April 3, 2015

Vinegaroon Canyon, Best Approach Ever

Most of the time, going to a canyon means an approach that just seems to get in the way of the actual fun—the canyon itself. You bushwhack, you climb, you down-climb, you scramble. It's usually tedious and I'm almost always so glad to get it over with.

Ah, but Vinegaroon Canyon in Death Valley is different (by the way, a vinegaroon is a kind of scorpion). For four miles or so, we hiked cross-country from 29 Mule Team Canyon into the hills near Zabriskie Point where minerals have tinted the landscape yellow, green, blue, red. And, as we climbed higher to the drop-in point into the canyon, the views turned spectacular. There were the Panamint Mountains with a hint of snow on Telescope Peak. We had a unique view of Zabriskie Point and Furnace Creek. The scenery nicely balanced out the fact that we were hiking in 90-degree heat.

Once we down-climbed into the canyon, I wasn't as thrilled. Where we put on our gear was stifling hot. The rappels were half-way interesting and challenging so there was that, but somehow, compared to the approach, the canyon itself lost its appeal. It was just, uh, okay. This is probably why most of my pictures came from the approach and not the canyon.

But, as I always say, a day of canyoneering beats sitting on the couch, even if you are sweating out every last bit of moisture and struggling to get around overhangs in the rappels.

Headed up the wash and eventually out of 29 Mule Team Canyon.

Old tins cans that I can only assume came from some miner in the distant past and are now protected, historical rubbish.

Climbing out of 29 Mule Team Canyon.

Rich approaching the top of the climb out of 29 Mule Team Canyon.

There were scatterings of wildflowers.

The colors were like frosting.

There was a lot of conglomerate-like rock, looking like it was once on a seafloor.

Yeah, it was hot.

Headed for another helping of frosting (and the canyon drop-in point).

Starting the down-climb into the canyon. Annette liked one way, Kevin another.

Rich on the first rappel that featured very little contact with the rock.

Hiking through the canyon.

Rich checking out a rappel before continues down.

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