By: Bob Greenawalt
COTTONWOOD TRAVERSE KNAPSACK EXPLORATORY
Early Saturday morning about 20 hikers met at Towne Pass. The weather was beautiful and remained so the entire weekend. Our leader had thoughtfully shuttled his car the night before to the end of the jeep trail in Cottonwood Canyon where our trip would end. Before we began our hike, drivers took all the cars to Stove Pipe Wells and were returned to our group by a non-hiking friend of the leader. Though his name escapes me (this report is not being written by the leader) I want to extend our thanks to this gentleman for his assistance.
We started north on our route which generally followed the western boundary. of Death Valley. Our first destination was to be Towne Peak and then on to Panamint Butte. However, we expended so much time reaching the first summit that we had a conference to do some replanning of the trip. At this point two people decided to turn back, fearing we would not make it out on Sunday. This might be a good time to state some observations: There was one person attempting this trip with inadequate foot gear who was not prepared physically for such a strenuous outing. Though admittedly she was plucky, it did slow us up to a point where it was necessary to alter our trip plan. A decision was reached during lunch to abort Panamint Butte. Naturally a number of our veteran hikers were disappointed-and understandably so. On the summit we found ourselves surrounded with magnificence-Telescope Peak, the Sierras around us; Death Valley and Panamint Valley below. We also could see remnants of an airplane wreck which aroused our curiosity. Descending Towne Peak, we then walked across the upper end of Lemoigne Canyon, a lovely area offering a forest of joshua trees. Eventually we reached Cottonwood Canyon where we decided to make camp for the evening. We experienced a brisk, windy night. We were also quite aware we were in burro-land and it is really easy to see why these animals are a menace to our desert ecology.
Sunday morning we continued down canyon to Cottonwood Spring where we discovered it was aptly named. Here we spotted some mustangs in the distance and explored two cabins. Stream crossings were numerous but easy. Another three miles brought us to the leaders' car. The plan was to work another shuttle to get us back to our cars parked at Stove Pipe Wells. Fortunately sightseers in adequate vehicles were really cooperative. Our leader left immediately with several drivers who were going to help with the shuttle and in the meantime a substantial number of us managed to pile into the back of a truck and another vehicle for a ride out. This necessitated only one return trip for our leader. The logistics of the shuttles alone were a challenge and Bob Greenawalt is to be commended for.a job well done. We three Petitjeans went home feeling satisfied-we'd seen a pretty area, had a good workout and shared some fun with a lot of old buddies!
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