Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Annie and I fancy ourselves adventurous people. We work outdoors, climb mountains and rocks, ski all kinds of snow, and travel to far flung places to do outdoor mountainous things. But, when we step back, we see that a life like this, wrapped in and around mountains and climbing isn't all that adventurous if we keep putting ourselves in familiar situations. Really. It feels that way to us. So, we decided to turn the other direction from Bishop, away from our granite Sierra and the snowy bowls between them, for a mini vacation to Death Valley. We've done the tourist thing through Death Valley before, scooting around on waving sand dunes, strolling on hot salt flats. Not all that adventurous. The most adventurous thing we could think of to do in Death Valley is "canyoneering." It's kinda the opposite of climbing- start at the top of some rugged canyon and go to the bottom, scrambling, sliding and rappelling on down. A little research on line, packed up some of our climbing gear, campground reservations made, fresh water packed up (they don't call the lowest point in Death Valley and North America Badwater for nothing) and we're off, getting outside of our comfort zones at least a little. Paul joined us, we drove over on Friday the 16th after work, in two cars to arrange a shuttle. Saturday morning we woke early, drove one car to the end of our hike, the other to the start, and started downhill. I'll let some photos do the talking now:
Suiting up at the top- the other car is 6000 feet below, just 2 horizontal away!

The first bits of the hike into "Bad Canyon" are on the crest of a sage covered ridge, views to both sides.


In some places we slid...

In others we walked...


A few rappels got us past the steepest bits.


Scouting the way.


Near the bottom, the hard part of the hike is behind us. Annie has no idea what's coming.

The bottom of our hike is literally the bottom. At 282 feet below sea level, the Badwater Basin is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. It's bleak, salty, dry, flat, surrounded by huge grey mountains, striped in the right light with red and orange and topped on one side with forests. Quite a wild place.

Before we drove off I asked Annie to marry me and she said yes!

Newly engaged:

You think she looks psyched? I've had a perma grin for three days!