The Abyss: Death Valley Canyoneering
Abysmal Canyon, actually. I love the name because "it is way past Bad". Quite a few years ago, Ram and I were invited on the first descent of this canyon, and it seemed like a good way to start this year's Death Valley trip. We have learned that hiking up from the bottom 3000 feet is easier on the body than hiking down from the top 3000 feet, plus from the bottom does not require a time-consuming car-spot.
And we had LUKE to get us up there. So we parked at Natural Bridge parking lot and sauntered over to a pile of dirt against the face of the mountain. With an early start, we were able to get almost the entire ascent done in the shade. Up up and away. Fun group of people this day.
We made the top of the ridge and found the top of the canyon. And went down. A bunch of nuisance raps and downclimbs eventually lead to the Big Event, the Abyss. Two long rappels in a row. Most of the canyon we are able to stay in the shade, as it is darn hot out there in the sun, especially as one gets low on the mountain, down at an altitude of say, -100 feet.
Death Valley canyons tend to have a lot of rappels, such that one gets punchy by the end. Oh, another 80 foot rappel down a polished marble(ish) chute, off a pile of rocks. How Novel! Ram and I were in front, generally without ropes, and we just sauntered downcanyon and enjoyed each other's company.
We got done. Some of us went to Furnace Creek and got showers. Back to camp for a wonderful Single-Person's-Awareness-Day potluck and party. Then to bed for another early rise...