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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Death Valley - Mosaic Canyon

Our second day staying in Stovepipe Wells, February 21, 2016, we decided to take a hike up Mosaic Canyon.  Located not far from our lodge, the trailhead nevertheless was at the end of 2.5 miles of gravel road, which Great White was not very happy to drive.  But he did, and we started our hike looking fondly back at our great, white, hulking vehicle, set against the backdrop of Death Valley:

We soon forgot the difficulties of getting up the gravel road, however, as we hiked up the canyon floor.  Here's a typical view looking back down:

Mosaic Canyon gets its name from the unique, tile-like mosaic look of some of the rock, which we'll get to below; but we were also overwhelmed with the number of other interesting formations and patterns in the rocks of this canyon:

The canyon narrowed in placed, making a slot canyon that was in itself a sculpture in stone:

Here, Kathy examines some of the breccia, or conglomerate, rock that gives the canyon its name:

A close-up of the rock says it all!

About 2 miles up the canyon, we reached a dry waterfall that didn't seem passable.  Here, David mulls over the best way to proceed:

Luckily, the NPS trail guide gave us a hint.  We walked back down the canyon about 80 paces and found rock cairns marking a trail climbing steeply up one side of the canyon that helped us bypass the pour-over.

Still, at 2.5 miles, we finally reached a dry waterfall we could not get around.  We again saw a steep side trail, marked with cairns, that appeared to provide a way up and around the pour-over, but we decided that even the work-around was too dangerous for us to attempt.

We contented ourselves with a selfie photo memorializing the end of the hike:

On the way back down the canyon, we saw our first butterfly (other than some generic white ones). He posed willingly as we pulled out the camera:

We also observed some hardy plant pioneers that found some way to stake out a home on solid rock walls where it appeared no soil could exist:

Hiking back down, we discovered how good it was that we had gotten an early start.  The morning light brought out many colors in the canyon walls and rocks that the midday sun, on our way back down, washed out.  We also found all the crowds of tourist hikers coming up as we returned to the trailhead, marveled at how they all found parking spots in the small parking area, and again we were glad that we had gotten to the trail early in the day.

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