Publishing Announcement: "Death Valley: Hottest Place On Earth" By Roger Naylor
"DEATH VALLEY: Hottest Place On Earth" - The latest book publication by friend and excellent Southwestern travel writer, Roger Naylor. I am pleased to have been a minor contributing photographer for the book, and it can be purchased on Amazon for $10 and some change at this link...A large high-quality paperback that will sit well on a coffee table.
Furthermore, if anyone local to the Phoenix Metro area would like to meet Roger, hear more about his Death Valley experience and the book, and have your book signed, you should join me this Monday night, December 9th at 7:00pm, at the "Changing Hands Bookstore" in Tempe, AZ.
Lastly, They’ll be running an excerpt in the Sunday Travel section of the Arizona Republic on Dec. 8. And Roger will also be appearing on Arizona Horizon on the 9th on PBS. As Roger put it to me with his typical style, "Yikes! Apparently their standards have really slipped."
Most of Death Valley's canyon hikes are in-and-outs. You walk until something blocks the way, and then retrace your steps. Golden Canyon gives you another option. It swings open the back door allowing access to a while new set of wonders.
Enter Golden Canyon and follow the curving wash on a gentle uphill slant. A trail guide pamphlet is available at the trailhead. A road once penetrated Golden Canyon, which was not the soundest of planning. A four-day storm in 1976 dumped 2.3 inches of rain and the surge of water wiped out the road, leaving behind only a few scraps of asphalt. The event proved to be a blessing for hikers who get to enjoy this very personable canyon on a more intimate basis.
The Golden Canyon segment of the hike concludes at marker #10, a mile from the trailhead. You can turn around here for a nifty two-miler. If you want to continue (make sure you've got plenty of water), take the signed trail to the east that scrambles up a steep gully. The sculpted vertical cliffs of Red Cathedral loom to your left, colored by the oxidation of iron. You climb across the badlands - that mudstone maze, heaped like so much melted ice cream.
The trail crests beneath the prominent jut of Manly Beacon the drops through a series of washes dotted with trail markers. You'll reach a signed junction with the left branching trail leading to Zabriskie Point. Bear right towards Gower Gulch, a wide, rocky wash, and then just tumble downstream.
Several old mine shafts that once probed for borax and calcite have now been sealed. There is no designated trail; just stay in the main channel pointed downstream. You'll pas through a couple of east-to-navigate chutes until finally the gulch plunges down a thirty-foot dry falls. Don't try to follow. Instead, look for the well-worn path leading north along the base of the cliffs. Follow this back to the parking lot and enjoy dandy views of the salt flats and the mountains along the way.
Where: On Badwater Road, 2 miles south of California 190.
Length: 2 miles round trip for Gold Canyon; 4.3 miles round trip through Gower Gulch.
This is another little corner of Death Valley that takes you by surprise. Salt Creek forms a shrubby, half-hearted oasis amid otherwise desolate badlands. For much of the year Salt Creek is nothing more than a few puddles. Yet even such a haphazard waterway manages to sustain a population of pupfish found nowhere else in the world.
Salt Creek pupfish (Cyprinodon salinus) are Ice Age relics, the ecosystem crumbs left over from that era of abundance when Lake Manly covered Death Valley. As water receded, the pupfish were left stranded in isolated pools of varying sizes, temperatures, and salt content. They managed to survive, and Death Valley now supports five species. The pupfish earned its name because of its frisky, puppy-like behavior.
A half-mile of wooden boardwalk loops through the pickle weed and salt grass surrounding the creek. This is easy walking with lots of good viewpoints. Pupfish are small - only an inch or two - and are best seen in the spring during mating season. That's when the males turn bright blue and aggressively defend their territory. And who can blame them? Nobody knows better that water is a fleeting commodity in this parched landscape.
In case you want more Death Valley imagery and don't want to buy Roger's book, then enjoy my own imagery from my Death Valley Collection.