Saturday, December 15, 2007

Green Tortoise- Day Two- Golden Canyon

Red Cathedral, Golden Canyon

We awoke to a changed landscape of desolate desert and sagebrush. A few wild horses grazed by the roadside. Soon we stopped to prepare a breakfast of bagels with lox and fruit salad. Then we set off down the trail. George, a lab tech originally from Burma, and I set out ahead as the group loitered at the viewpoint. We hiked down a wash with a wide palette of colors rising up in the rocks on each side. We bent to walk through a short tunnel that water had carved clear through one formation. We saw virtually no plant life of any kind. We emerged from the rock canyon to a stunning view of the Panamint Moutans on the other side of the wide valley. A few other hikers emerged from Golden Canyon at the same time we arrived at the meeting place, and we realized we must have missed the signpost where we should have turned toward Manly's Beacon. We were early, so I hiked back up the canyon to meet Ki'il. When the canyon opened to reveal the Red Cathedral, I was glad that I had come back.

marble canyon wall

I found Ki'il hiking with a multilingual French geologist named Sebastian, who explained how oxidation changes Fe3 to Fe2 to form the contrasting red and green in the rock walls. I got my sack lunch out of Ki'il's pack and ate as we walked.

salt crystals at Badwater Basin
The sun was setting quickly, so we made a quick stop at the salt flats at Badwater Basin, the lowest elevation in the US at 282 feet below sea level.

A short ride brought us to our camp at Furnace Creek. We pitched the tent and I chopped mushrooms, onions and garlic for dinner; a burrito bar. I washed down my burrito with Newcastle brown ale, then sat around a sputtering fire for a while before going to bed early.

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