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2010 Trip Report - DE Rendezvous - Echo Canyon

Echo Canyon, Schwab Ghost Town and Petro Site
March 20, 2010
Leaders: Johns and Hansens

With Mike Vollmert and the Liparis once again in the rear, we began our tour by  taking Hwy. 190 west from Death Valley Junction. Near the Death Valley National  Park boundary we encountered a do-it-yourself pay station which demanded a hefty  $20 fee for a day’s visit. Credit cards were gladly accepted, but there was nary  a word about Golden Age or other types of park passes. Not wanting to be found  inside the park without our official permits, several of us diligently tried to  use our passes. Despite our efforts, the machine rebuked our plastic, and we  concluded the possession of a pass would have to do.

As we drove on down the highway, CB comments were made about the rich colors of  the eroded formations in that area. Plus, there were small patches of colorful  wildflowers along the way that caught our eyes. At the turn off to Echo Canyon  we made a finally tally of our entourage – 13 vehicles and 26 passengers who  included: five members of the Ted, Joan, Emily, Katie, and Mike Berger, Mel and  Nette Patterson, Glenn Shaw, Danny and Norma Siler, Dave and Penelope Bullock,  Terry Ogden, Mike Vollmert and Ron and Jeff Lipari, Nelson Miller and sister,  Ellen, Bob and Shirley Bolin, Bert Eddins, Homer Meek, Jean and Sunny Hansen and  Neal and Marian Johns, plus several pooches.

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 Before entering the canyon itself, we made a stop to follow Glenn Shaw on a hike  along the power line poles to an archaeological site with sleeping circles and  rock alignments. There is also supposed to be a geoglyph, but we had to skip  that because of time constraints.

After Glenn’s hike, we proceeded on into the narrows of Echo Canyon which is a  stunning defile with high cliffs on either side. On the way, we kept a vigilant  watch for the “Eye of the Needle”, a small arch on the left side of the trail.  To our surprise we found two such mini-arches, both on the left side.

Next, Sunny and Jean Hansen led us on a short hike to a nice petroglyph site.  While the more agile among us scrambled up the rocks for closer photos, we who  are vertically challenged remained on terra firma and used our cameras’ zoom  features.

For lunch, we stopped by the ruins of the Inyo mining camp and then took a side  road and headed for the infamous dry waterfalls where our trail became real 4x4  challenge. Most everyone piled out of their vehicles to inspect this bedrock  staircase. The Johns’ Tacoma was the first up and made it with no problem. About  then a herd of motorcycles and quads came from the other direction and stayed to  watch the entertainment. Our audience later said they didn’t think we would make  it. Ha! Five of our caravan decided this was not something they wanted to try,  but they also stayed to watch. With plenty of by-standing supervisors handing  out advice, all who tried made it. Then, while the remaining folks returned to  camp at Death Valley Junction, we continued on – and on and on.

It had been about 12 years since we last made this trek and doubts were setting  in because the further we went the less familiar our trail seemed. At last we  reached a bedrock go-down that did stir memories and we breathed a sigh of  relief. With a little help from Sunny, we all made it down that obstacle. From  there on it was a cinch and we were soon out of the mountains and safely back on  pavement. (I won’t mention the names of those that bent down and kissed it.)  Thanks again, Mike, Ron, and Jeff for being sweep.