New Slot Canyons

Now that I’ve added some colors of spring to the blog, I feel like there’s some balance that allows me to add more desert images. :) The following photos are the “part two” from a desert hike in the Coyote Mountains Wilderness in January. In part one, I mentioned that I had set out to explore some spots that looked like potential slot canyons — and this is the result of that exploration.

Near where the sandstone ended and the mud hills of the badlands begin, two smaller canyons merged, and from an older photo overlooking the general area, I had determined that both might be good candidates for slot canyons. Using the 3D feature of Gaia GPS I placed waypoints on the potential entrances.

Satellite imagery can be quite misleading of course, but this is an area that I am familiar with, and the waypoints made it easy to find the two spots “in real life”. The first slot was quite short. I liked this “pool” of pebbles near its entrance, and the lines leading further into the slot:

After a turn or two and a small climb though, it ended (or rather, became so shallow that it wasn’t really a “slot” anymore). I turned around and made my way back out. Retracing my steps to where the two canyons merged I now followed the other fork, and this canyon looked much more interesting.

At its entrance, untouched sand! It would have been great if the Brittlebush had been in bloom, but alas, it didn’t look like this area had received any rain worth mentioning yet this winter.

Before I would add my footprints to the sand, I walked along the canyon’s edge to take a peek into it, from above — what I saw looked really nice. Walking in and disturbing the untouched sand felt a little weird, but curiosity and the sense of exploration were stronger. :)

The pressure difference between the mountains and deserts during winter storms often leads to really strong winds in the desert, so by now, 2 1/2 months later, the footprints that I had left in the canyon may have been smoothed out, already. :)

A little bit further in the canyon got narrow and little dryfalls had to be climbed to get further in. The walls never rose as high as the more well known slot canyons in the area, and neither was the canyon as narrow as “the twisting staircase“, but it was fun nevertheless, of course.

Just a few minutes in, the canyon opened into a little room with alcoves in the sandstone walls — a really beautiful spot! The following photo is actually looking back towards the entrance of the canyon (a little bit past the dryfall in the previous photo), and is probably my favorite from this canyon:

If this was the living room, then just a little bit ahead was the study, perhaps — namely, the boulder study. This looked like a relatively new rockfall:

Around the next corner, the end of the canyon awaited, in the form of a dryfall that was too steep and tall to climb it. Above it, the canyon appeared to continue, shallower though, but perhaps still worth exploring.

It wouldn’t have been too difficult to walk along the edge of the canyon to circumvent the dryfall altogether, but considering the short daylight hours of January, I felt like I’ve had enough, and began to make my way back. The timing worked out well since I was out of the canyon in time for twilight (see photos from part 1, linked above).

In the following video, I’m showing how to balance light and shadow easily in Lightroom, with an example photo from this same canyon. If you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel you’ve surely seen it already, since I posted it back in January:

As you can see, the photo that I used did not make it into this blog post… :P

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6 thoughts on “New Slot Canyons”

  1. I never grow bored looking at and learning about the incredible range of geological features out there. I’ve never been in a slot canyon so all this is my vicarious way of visiting.

  2. Funny about showing colors and now desert – I get it! I love seeing the slot canyon with the untouched sand and all those curvy shapes – really beautiful I would have hesitated, too, but probably would have to go in. ;-) The boulder study is just perfect. Kudos for using technology to find the slot canton(s)!


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