October 11, 2008

Death Valley Adventure

We've had a dry patch as far as camping goes, so why not go really dry with a camping trip to Death Valley? Andrew and I just got back from three days boondocking in this beautiful canyon just east of Death Valley.

Our friends Jake and Vickie have been camping twice a year in the same desolate canyon with a bunch of family and friends. They've invited us every year for as long as I can remember, and this year, Andy and I were finally able to take them up on their offer.

This unnamed, and secret canyon, is solitude at its finest. That really means campers have to be self-sufficient, which is one of the reasons these folks always camp together. We heard many different stories of mishaps and we saw one major misstep on our way in.

One of the big motor-homes got stuck in the almost dry creek bed on the way up the canyon. We spent a couple hours discussing strategy, and several more hours digging them out. Andy sure earned his supper with all the hard digging he did on this rescue.

We went exploring along an old railroad right-of-way with metal detectors, and the treasure of the day was found by Andrew. This is an 1899 Liberty Nickel. In that era, a day's wages were about $1.25, so with inflation, this is worth about six bucks. Remarkably, that is about twice the value of the coin on today's collector market. Still, the experience was a blast and the coin will be a keepsake.

The following morning, Jake took us for a hike to the bluffs above our secret canyon. We explored the natural desert pavement, and then Jake showed us these incredibly odd circles. This row of circles extends for miles in either direction. No one knows for sure why they are here, but theories run from UFOs to Native American purposes. In my humble opinion, it is in the character of man to draw lines in the sand. If there are no timbers for a boundary line, stand your ground and pull the rocks up to build a sentinel. I'm guessing this was a boundary negotiated by two native cultures.

Our last morning, the gang went to a box canyon and set up an impromptu shooting range. Most of the bunch are shooting enthusiasts, so there was lots of action in the canyon. Andy got the chance to dial in the scope on his birthday rifle; shoot a WWI sniper rifle; fire Jake's Mini-14; and Mike's .50 caliber pistol.

We did some exploring on our own on the way home and checked out this sun-bleached hopper.

This was an incredible trip, with so much more than I've documented here. We are so incredibly thankful to Jake, Vickie and all our new friends from the canyon. Thanks guys!


Anonymous said...

"As Andy pulls the Liberty dollar from the ground, I prepare to deposit our own archaeological token -- an empty Bud can."

If God had meant for man to go camping, he wouldn't have invented the drive-up window.

-- Stuart