This year, I was fairly healthy on Decision Day, for whether to join the Tullamore Dew Running Club's annual trail running adventure in Death Valley. It's been my most eagerly anticipated event of the winter. I hoped to drive off on Thursday early afternoon, but an urgent security issue at the Observatory forced me to stay till too late, so I instead got off on Friday morning. Arrived at Texas Spring campground at sunset, found a spot, set up my tent and gear, and then jogged down the wash to Furnace Creek where Diane, Judy, and Cat were staying at The Ranch Oasis. At 7:30pm we had our group con-fab and decision making on which trail options we wanted. It was unanimous - we wanted to do a series of slot canyons off Willow Canyon and Sidewinder Canyon, 15 miles south of Badwater. .

Our total group shot, outside the hotel. We had 33 canyoneers. Most were TRDC, but we also had 8 or 10 from the Santa Cruz Track Club.

Larry and David and the rest of the TDRC brain trust

A 34 mile drive south of Furnace Creek brought us to the pullout for Willow Canyon and Sidewinder Canyon

A gravel pile here made the perfect spot for another pre-run group shot

John and Mark, veteran ultra-runners, will lead the pack off up the wash. The plan was to jog up Willow Canyon, find the side-canyon that has a beautiful running stream and cascading waterfalls, then back dow to the main wash, up to it's end, and find a way to get up to the ridge, and find a way down into Sidewinder Canyon, where several slot canyons awaited exploration along the sides on the way back.

Krista, from SCTC, looking extremely stylish in her new gear

We're off! The fast runners got a jump, but good to scout out the best side canyons for the rest.

Looking down towards where we started from. Larry's getting a shot of Diane

Cat enjoys the rising warmth of the sun on this cool morning. Unlike a previous trip, which had temperatures in the 80's, today stayed in the 50's and low 60's - perfect.

Cat was dressed to impress as well

Getting up to our first side canyon, and the big waterfalls.

A lizard's eye view of my progress

Willow Canyon branches; take the left branch and you find a wonderful stream which leads up through a slow canyon to some big waterfalls - impassable, but impressive

Some scrambling required

Beneath the big waterfalls, we found two young bighorn sheep, which look like perhaps they lost their footing from on high

This skeleton big horn was still quite ripe

11,000 ft Telescope Peak and the high Panamint Range had a ton of fresh snow, towering above the valley