It rained in Red Rocks. The road to Eureka Dunes was impassable. They had just graded the road to Mahogany Flats Campground at the foot of Telescope Peak. There we went.
There we found jaw-dropping views of the Sierras to the west and Badwater Basin to the east. Mt Charleston still held snow, as did the tippy top of Telescope Peak. Looking down to the green canyons below, we knew our plan for the next day.
Surprise Canyon is one of several drainages for Telescope and the Panamints. I knew desert canyons could be surprisingly lush, but Surprise took me by--wait for it--surprise. For a while we skipped from rock to muddy patch to bank. Eventually we gave up and got wet.
Baja California tree frogs croaked from the scouring rush, and birds sang from cottonwoods adorned in iridescent new growth. We saw two common side-blotched lizards, and Brian almost stepped on a snake. There were yellow and purple flowers everywhere, and bright red blister beetles doing the hard work of pollination.
If you walk far enough up Surprise Canyon you'll reach the ghost town Panamint City. Before that you'll encounter some equipment washed down canyon by a major storm. Those same storms washed away the road that once ran the length of the canyon, leaving behind precious riparian habitat and an adventurous hiking trail. Progress!
Between hiking canyons below and peaks above, we cooked delicious meals and read amusing stories in our trusty home away from home. We could get used to this #vanlife thing.