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CA: Death Valley Styx 2-14-16

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Ram, Feb 21, 2016.

  1. Ram

    Ram

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    The place is called Slabby Acres. The named coined by the quite clever Hank Moon. An abandoned trailer park with rows of concrete slabs, in the middle of the desert. The miners that occupied this area, long gone. I arrived at 3:30 in the afternoon....and the wind was blowing. The place was a ghost town. Tents everywhere, many blown over, but few people. Death Valley canyon days are long and I did not expect others to arrive back for several hours. The sun went low and the peaks glowed. People arrived, telling the story of their day's adventure. The wind stopped.

    Pyramid Peak from Slabby Acres
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    As day turned to night, there was a potluck dinner and most snuggled up to the many campfires. A memorial to Mike Putiak, brought tears . A world made much poorer by his absence. The last 2 groups made it back to camp after 11 PM. Not uncommon in Death Valley.

    Those around the fire tossed out ideas. What to do tomorrow? I was inclined to do Styx Canyon. It was my first Death Valley canyon, done 8 years ago almost to the day. A 5,000 foot descent, ending below sea level, that has a closed in, more intimate feel that several of the big wall, long rap canyons nearby.. Lots of folks signed up. I landed the car shuttle job along with Brian and Chris. We drove out to spot the car at 4:30 AM, meeting the rest of the party at 6 AM for the trip up to the top of Dante's View. Death Valley days start early.

    Sunrise looking down 5 grand
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    People at Dante's View
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    Everett warming up
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    Kat and Ken
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    Banditio Carol
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    Vista
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    Our idea attracted lots of people and we divided the group of 17 folks into two groups. We had one person from our group in front, meet one person from the other group behind us, just once, at the first rappel. Brian had suggested the north fork of the canyon and seeing that I had not done that fork before, I jumped right on board. The north fork had about 7 densely packed rappels and the main canyon, 9 raps, much more spaced out. No rappel exceeded 100 feet and we had two ropes for every three people. With moving ropes forward and meat anchoring along side the anchor rappel, allowing 2 folks to rap at the same time, we managed to move the group along nicely.

    Karen
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    Carol
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    Tom and Alane
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    Ellen and Brian
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    Wes
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    Chris X2
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    Shapes
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    A well fed midget
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    What was it?
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    Styx signature rap
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    Chris
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    Very green this year
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    Spinesnaper
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    The temperatures were on the cool side, barely topping 70 degrees and a little bit of cloud cover also helped. We finished the canyon a bit before 3PM. On the final hike down the alluvial fan, our shoes got coated in pollen from, the fields of wildflowers, which were everywhere. I heard it was the best year for flowers in a very long time. We drove around to pick up the vehicles at the top and most made it back to camp before dark. A fine day with friends both old and new.

    Almost down
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    Pollen on the shoes
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    More pictures to be founds here
    https://picasaweb.google.com/108034287150978265447/Styx21416#

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  2. Relentlesshiker

    Relentlesshiker

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  3. Ram

    Ram

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    Do you really hate snakes? A visual thing? I start days early. I have/had good distance vision and all those years I could keep up and stay in front, I would do the route finding. I swear if I were to find an arrowhead I would have to get a puncture wounds from it. Now I just try to struggle to figure out where everyone one has gone, ahead of me. BTW the pictures you take from the rear are worse than from the front. I think that I miss that most with my declining abilities...taking pictures of people coming forward. But I digress....with early starts and scanning the horizon, I have nearly stepped on more snakes than I can count without realizing it. Once, with Todd Martin behind the shutter, on the approach to Kaleidoscope, I nearly stepped on one. I found out about it when I saw my footprints just missing the dormant fella, from Todd's pictures WEEKS later. Clueless am I.

    From this album in Styx, this bugger had a recent meal...I think? It was all of 5 inches long uncoiled. I would have squished it except for who I was strolling with. For the life of me I don't remember who was walking with me and pointed it out to me, before I nearly stepped on this one, Who was it? I want to know who and thank them again. Speak up! That happens with fading memory.......Soooooo, what is my point? In Australia, they have like 9 out of 10 of the most poisonous animals, in the world....I admit to be scared of them But is that from lack of exposure? Even read of a tiger snake bite, on the Collective or the Yahoo archive. SCARY! I entertained the perspective....... when I found most folks from the first world absolutely and I mean absolutely terrified of bears, when coming over here to America. Bears? They just run away, if you are lucky enough to glean one! So maybe knowing something well, is the antidote to fearing it?? BTW I am dismissive of bears, but have never met a grizzly, although I saw a fresh grizzly track once, in British Columbia and that set my heart to "'pitter-patter." What we know, we don't fear perhaps?

    just for fun,...what 6 animals look at humans as just food? Not talking about the occasional forage or scavenge. I mean "see us and see dinner!"
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
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  4. Relentlesshiker

    Relentlesshiker

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    I am terrified of snakes for no good reason other than I prefer to see my aggressor before they see me. I know that most snakes are not aggressive but it does nothing to ease my fear. What if I'm hiking off trail in leaf cover and accidentally step on one or have to suddenly grab hold of a crevice to keep from falling. Ya know, "what ifs".

    We have Rattlers, Copperheads, and Water Moccasins, frequently here on the farm. They make me very nervous. However; I've been in the jungle and been around an 8 - 9 ft Boa and that doesn't bother me. I'm not going to get cozy with it but I'm not terrified of it like I am these smaller sneaky snakes we have here.

    I do understand how fear is generated and I have studied and educated myself in depth. I guess my fear boils down to the "control" factor? No matter how I try to rationalize my fear of snakes nothing eases it, in fact I think it gets worse each year. I think its just some horrible joke being played on me. My favorite place to be is off trail somewhere deep in the woods. On the other hand, we did witness a massive Black Bear meandering in a valley while hiking the Benton MacKaye Trail in North Carolina. Now THAT was cool!!
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  5. Ram

    Ram

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    Makes total sense to me. The pictures I have seen of tissue damage from a venomous bite? Horrific. Makes sense to be scared of um. I recall a study of "who gets bit" by snakes and the profile is young male, messin with them. I ain't young no more, but i do like trying to pose them. Not the brightest bulb am I.

    Once I am on the approach to Sad Cow Disease and I am....big surprise....storytelling, while moving about.......The rattle was but a few feet from me. I jumped a few feet. My stomach jumped even further....and from my vocal cord came a sound in the soprano range, belying my gender. I can still taste the adrenaline in my mouth just talking about it :jawdrop::wideyed::wtf::vomit:
  6. EvergreenDean

    EvergreenDean Master of the obvious

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    Nice TR Ram.
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  7. townsend

    townsend

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    Relentless,

    Please note -- from your "farm list" above, one only has to fear rattlers in Utah canyons! Living in North Texas, I have had encounters with copperheads (at the nature preserve in Plano) -- a beautiful snake -- but they seriously keep to themselves (like most snakes). I think we should respect and admire snakes -- but from a distance. I understand that stumbling upon them is unnerving.



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