Great Cacapon, WV
Pathfinder | 173 pts
Drive up the Titus Canyon Road to the mouth of the narrows. Park in the designated parking lot. There isn’t any sign for Fall Canyon so one has to have either read about it (Hiking Death Valley by ) or hear about it through the ranger.
What really wears a hiker out is the gravel in the wash. It moves a bit like marbles putting you back a ¼ step or so for each step you move forward. I’m not really good at assessing heights but the canyon walls are very impressive. The canyon’s curves and bends make one wonder what lies just around the corner.
About 2 miles or less into the hike, a steep 75 foot hill presented some fun in that after reaching the top, one could look over the edge into a small side canyon. It was crumbly towards the top, not fun to climb but challenging nevertheless. At the top one could put one leg on one side of the ridge and one on the other, straddling two canyons. The desert silence once one has stopped walking is stupendous.
We approached the first side canyon that begged to be explored. We went up a short piece before being blocked by a 13-foot fall. These falls are dry waterfalls. This one had a slight incline but was mostly vertical. The grotto above the fall promised to be exciting but sadly unattainable unless you have rock climbing equipment.
Back at the main canyon we pressed on to an 18-foot fall blocked by a boulder. According to the hiking book we looked for the side route. It was a doozy at first for those who are afraid of climbing.
As we popped around the top of the fall, we noticed a nice rock art lizard. Someone had made a lizard out of colored rocks on a larger rock surface. There is something about these rock walls that inspires the artistic side of the soul. We decided to eat lunch at the top of the fall as it is at the beginning of a nice tight narrows spot. If one is not moved by the awesomeness of the place, one has a thick sludge over their soul.
After lunch (a bit cool in the shade) we meandered along the narrows. The narrows curved gracefully through slickensides, for about ½ mile. The walls were mostly gray with some brown variations and marble textures, quite different from the orange and red canyon walls of Utah.
At the end of the narrow section, I climbed up some type of stone which overlooked some more of the canyon. I also took a look at the cottonball cactus perched there. The rock had an unusual surface. It was laced with a network of lines like tic-tac-toe, that was very effective in helping you walk up a steep incline instead of climbing on hands and knees. Down in the wash we came across fluffy parts of another cottonball cactus that had dried up.
By 2pm the sun had warmed up the canyon and so some of the bushes were releasing their scent into the air. The smell of the mesquite and creosote bushes reminded me of hiking in Utah. Some of the mesquite bushes were sporting yellow flowers.
As far as wildlife was concerned, we noticed some small orange butterflies flitting about. They also seemed to be dieing, falling along the bottom of the canyon. We spotted some bighorn sheep or deer tracks near the low water holes. Something startled me as I rounded a corner near a rock ledge. I passed about 6-12 inches near something and saw him move out of the corner of my eye. My first thought was “Snake!” Instead, it was a foot long lizard lying on the rock ledge. In one part of the narrows we came across our first tarantulas.
We made good time walking out which was faster than going in. The air temperature had also risen as well.