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Trail Canyon and DV Highlights
On January 2, our group of seven, mostly Midwesterners, arrived at last in Death Valley to do some backpacking. We had been anticipating this trip since late July (!), and there were several times when we thought the trip was sunk. But, as it turns out, neither epic flooding nor epic airline meltdowns would keep us away.

We brought a range of experience and expectations. Some had been to DV before; some had not. Some had backpacking experience (including one 2022 AT finisher!); some did not. No one knew everyone in the group; some knew only one other person. We wanted to take in some of the touristy highlights, but also get off the beaten path. Due to everyone's schedules, we had five days to cram in as much awesomeness as possible. 

And we did. In the spirit of practicing maximum enthusiasm, it was the Best Trip Ever.

**Day 1**
Six of us convened in Las Vegas in the morning of January 2. (The seventh, coming in from L.A., would catch up with us in the park later that day.) We picked up our rental car (a Jeep Wagoneer), stopped for lunch and supplies in Pahrump, and made for Zabriskie Point, a must-do since the movie of that name came up in our group text. 

We stretched our legs on the Badlands Loop.  

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Then we made our way west through the park, landing at Emigrant Campground for the night.

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**Day 2**
The next day was kind of moody as we made our way to and along West Side Road. 

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Trail Canyon Road was graded for about the first mile.

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After that, the road got worse, but it was still passable in our Wagoneer. There were only two spots that I was worried about, and neither proved to be a big deal. There was one incident with a rock, but that was my fault, not the rock's.

We found a spot to pull off the road about four miles up the road, before the road dropped into the wash. We geared up and got hiking!

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We heard some fighters flying overhead, and caught a couple of contrails during a break in the cloud cover.

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We stopped for lunch at the Confluence.

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This was a tough morning. From where we parked, it was literally all uphill. We had gone 5.3 miles and gained 2300 feet in elevation, and it seemed that each mile was steeper than the last. With words like "death march" being bandied about, we changed up our plans. Originally, I had planned for us to continue up the West Fork, set up camp near the Smith and Polson Camp, then fetch water further up canyon at Dripping Springs. That would have been another four miles, with a good amount of elevation gain. Instead, we turned to the South Fork and headed for Morning Glory Camp and Spring, which was less than 1.5 miles away and involved far less climbing.

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Morning Glory Spring was just as ... unappetizing ... as expected after seeing TacoLand's video and some other pics on this site. It had a noticeable sulfur taste, but we filtered and drank it with no ill effects. 

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According to the guestbook at the Morning Glory Camp, there had been a few people there over the past couple of weeks, including a group that had 4x4ed up the day before. There was lots of old junk historical items to admire, as one would expect. But there were also some newer materials stored in a shed, including a plastic basin and some pipes stamped with a 2016 date. I guess someone is doing some work to maintain the site?

We sat on the ridge, and the nearly full moon rose behind us. As the clouds passed in front of the moon, different parts of the hills across from us lit up. It was quite the slo-mo light show!

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**Day 3**
The third day was still moodier. There was a bit of mist in the air and more dark clouds swirling around Wildrose. Still, we started off towards Morning Glory Mine. There was ice in places and things were starting to get a bit slick. 

We stopped at the Old Dependable mine.

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Then we continued up to the narrows.

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There was a lot of beautiful blue quartz laying about the canyon.

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After about 1.3 miles, we reached an 8-10 foot fall.

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There was a crumbly bypass to the left.

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We weren't sure whether we could all get up or, if something more difficult was ahead, whether we could safely descend again. Plus, the wet weather continued, calling into question the wisdom of being here in the first place. We decided to turn around.

On the way down, we were treated to a rainbow.

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We stumbled across this, which I think is petrified wood?

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After returning to camp, we hiked to the mines in the hills on the other side of the canyon from Morning Glory Spring.

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**Day 4**
The weather looked great when we started our hike out, but the rain picked up as we descended. By the time we got to the car, it was raining lightly but steadily.

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We grabbed lunch at Stovepipe Wells and then visited Mesquite Sand Dunes, where the weather was absolutely beautiful.

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We had intended to enjoy the full moon that night on Badwater Basin, but the clouds continued to roll in.

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We decided instead to camp at Texas Spring Campground. This was by far the widest open night sky we enjoyed on our trip. The clouds dissipated eventually, but by then we were tired (and had had a few Smile ) so we decided to stay put. Among the other celestial treats that night, we saw 50+ Starlink satellites march across the sky in a line. I know not everyone is pleased about those, but it was quite a striking sight.

**Day 5**
On our last day, Friday, we drove Artist's Drive and hiked Desolation Canyon.

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We wrapped things up with a visit to Badwater Basin, shared a last beer, then turned back to Las Vegas. On the way, we lunched at Tina's Tamales in Pahrump. I highly recommend stopping in if you are in town. Everything was amazing, and the standout for me were the pupusas. We made it to Las Vegas, where we all dispersed to our corners of the country.

As with any journey, the best moments could never be captured on camera. I was lucky to share this wonderful place with some amazing people. I can't wait until the next trip!
Sounds like a super trip and I'd love to see the pix of Trail as I've been trying to get up there forever. But alas, I can't see any of the pix - looks like there is space allocated but perhaps some permissions thing? I just see a "do not enter" kind of sign Sad
Hmm. They're showing up for me. I'll see if I can fix it.
I get the same thing - just a little blue box with a question mark where images ought to be.
~When You Live in Nevada, "just down the road" is anywhere in the line of sight within the curvature of the earth.
I think I fixed it.
(2023-01-08, 08:58 PM)jkpaulsen Wrote: I think I fixed it.

Yes, I can see the photos now. Thanks for sharing, looks like a great trip!
Link to my DV trip reports, and map of named places in DV (official and unofficial):
That's a great trip crammed into a short time. Really lovely variety of terrain you managed to explore.

Thanks so much for sharing!
Oh yes, very nice!
(2023-01-08, 09:21 PM)netllama Wrote: Really lovely variety of terrain you managed to explore.

Indeed. Trail had a huge range of geologic and ecologic features. I wish we had another couple days to explore the West Fork and to try the South Fork narrows again.
Blue quartz!? And mine junk? Love it

That spring looks nasty though. Glad to hear you all survived drinking it.

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