Sorry for the small photo but internet connection here is very slow so it’ll have to do.

After our little 3-day detour through the Mojave National Preserve, we have now firmly ensconced ourselves in Death Valley to do some serious tourist stuff here. The park is surprisingly well-visited for this time of year with all of the sites occupied at the Furnace Creek Campground where we are. We will have to move on to a different campground after tomorrow (they’re kicking us out!) That’s OK though because we plan to move up to Stovepipe Wells which is closer to many of the canyons we want to explore.

I bought a copy of a thick (542 pages) and fact-filled book entitled Hiking Death Valley which should keep us busy for the foreseeable future. Today we hiked up nearby Echo Canyon, which, like many of the side canyons in Death Valley is deep and narrow. At the end is the defunct Inyo Mining Camp where gold was extracted in the early 20th century. We strolled around the grounds hoping to pick up a few spare nuggets that the miners had overlooked. No such luck.

We are very pleased with our truck/5th wheel setup and consider it far superior to motorhomes and campers. This is because we can detach the pickup, leaving the 5th wheel in the campground and drive off to various venues on bumpy dirt and gravel roads – something that is hazardous as hell in a camper or motorhome. The road up to Echo Canyon today was a prime example.

We haven’t yet solved the great mystery of the draining batteries that plagued us at Mojave. My current guess is that we have a bad switch to one of the many electric motors on the 5th wheel that is continuously siphoning off electricity. We have patched over the problem for the time being by disconnecting the truck from the trailer and disconnecting the battery cables in the trailer overnight. We also use our little Honda generator in the evening.

The valley is bordered on all sides by mountains with numerous canyons. These canyons are the channels through which the bulk of the hiking trails wind. The nakedness of the terrain here exposes a wide variety of rock types which makes for interesting prospecting for the former Rockman himself (me). Park policy is that nothing can be removed from the park, including rocks. Pity, because there are zillions of interesting rocks here. Especially tempting are all the squared-off river rocks with rounded edges. Oh, how I would love to fill a couple of dump trucks with these and build a little stone cabin on our land (sigh.)

Walking up the creek bed in Scotty’s Canyon yesterday, we were hoping to see the yellow glint of gold nuggets exposed by the recent rain. But, of course, we wouldn’t pick up gold nuggets because you’re not allowed to remove rocks from the park. Yeah, right.

20130128-092219.jpgINYO MINE RUINS