We drove down an obscure road that led past an airstrip at Stovepipe Wells campground and then finally saw the sign for Marble and Cottonwood canyons. We scooted across the sand on Mesquite Flat for about 8 miles before getting to the mountains.
After the mouth of the main wash, things started to get rough. Since we were driving up a large river size wash, one of our hiking companions was convinced that it was going to rain and that we were going to get hit by a flash flood. The weather forecast did not foresee this, although I must admit that the clouds looked black and ominous. Driving in a riverbed can be thought provoking.
After bumping along for 45 minutes or less, we found a place to park. The track was becoming more indistinct by the minute. We got out and continued walking up the canyon. We didn’t meet anyone on this hike. The desert silence surrounded us except for our feet making crunching sounds on the wash gravel underfoot. The desert or any quiet place in nature, is definitely a place to do a little soul searching.
We followed some Jeep tracks into the canyon and watched how they went over some seemingly impassable stuff. I looked continuously for petroglyphs trying to think like an Indian bent on "graffiti". The author of the Hiking in Death Valley by wouldn’t say where they were, in order to defeat further graffiti over them.
After the canyon opened up again, we came to the first side canyon and stopped for a snack break. After exploring the small side canyon, we followed the main canyon until we came to a chock stone blocking the canyon and followed the bypass around it. The chock stone has been there for quite some time because its edges have been rounded off. The power of water is mighty.
The wind report came into action, causing us to get wind burned later. Hearing that wind whistle through the next set of narrows was a bit scary as one could easily imagine a wave of water coming down the chute. We heard military jets just out of sight which took away some of the peacefulness and added to the thoughts of rushing water.
The second set of narrows were awesome! Nice smooth gray walls. We finally spotted some petroglyphs. They did have graffiti over some of them caused by people carving their names and dates into the walls over the faint and older petroglyphs. One example of graffiti was of a person from 1913 or 1906 indicating water 5 miles away. Prospectors we thought. I wonder if they were awed by the narrows as well.
Emerging back out of the canyon, we walked our mile back to the vehicle, trying to walk along the packed mud stream rims instead of the rolling pebbles. That makes quite a difference as one felt like one was moving faster. It feels like the difference between trying to walk in rollerskates vs. tennis shoes.