We took a hike up Mosaic Canyon last week. Mosaic Canyon is one of the most scenic and popular hikes in the Death Valley National Park. The hike is not difficult, the path is hard-packed dirt or rock, and a gravel road takes you to the mouth of the canyon. We hiked Mosaic Canyon when we were in Death Valley in 2006. Okay, to be honest, Tom, Steve, and John hiked Mosaic Canyon. It was too hot for me (over 110) and I pooped out on the first turn. Fortunately it was cooler last week and I was able to go to the end of the canyon.
Mosaic Canyon is a narrow, polished marble-walled canyon. The marble is a beautiful white and pink color, polished smooth by water rushing down the mountain during the occasional rains. There are also streaks of composite rock mixed in and sandstone higher up that has eroded in interesting shapes.
The prettiest part of the Mosaic Canyon is at the beginning, then it opens up into a wide, open place with a butte in the middle. Most people turn around here. But it you continue beyond the open place, you come to more marble and big piles of boulders to scramble over. There are two dry falls – “waterfalls” of boulders – that block the canyon and it is fun to climb up and over the big rocks.
There wasn’t a lot of elevation gain – maybe 300 feet – but coming back down the canyon was easier hiking than going up. I especially enjoyed feeling the marble. It was cool to the touch and velvety smooth. Once we got back to the mouth of the canyon we could see the valley spread out before us.
One of the things I really enjoy about out and back hikes, like Mosaic Canyon, is that the view is so different going each direction. I may think I am paying close attention but the view changes completely when you are going the other way.
It makes me wonder about our lives. Looking ahead there may be boulders or obstacles that seem difficult and hard to climb. But when we look at them from the other direction, we realize that making the effort to climb enabled us to see something we never expected and the view from our changed perspective might take our breath away.