February 14, 2012

Bad water Basin Death Valley
Puerto Rico has been my favorite place to go with so many wonderful waterfall canyons, Jungle and Desert Terrain, and my favorite...CAVES!!
Carribean National Forrest Puerto Rico

The caves of Puerto Rico are some of the best I have ever seen.  This was a solo trip that I took for a week journey into the Jungle and a week to the Barren lands of Death Valley.
Adam Haydock Solo trip to Puerto Rico and Death Valley

  I figured this will be one unique and amazing adventure to take by myself where all I have to worry about is me and find myself two completely different environments. 
 I was able to get to Puerto Rico and rent a car to take to the El Yunque south district to stay at Robins Farm overlooking the ocean from the Jungle canopy... AWESOME CAMPSITE!!!
but first it was off to Lares to visit some locals that would start this epic journey on the Tanama River.  I got to a locals house at night and was able to finally reach out to him while I was driving around shady looking streets at night.  Thankfully I was able to find him and got back to his place to set up in a bunkroom where I was greeted by scorpains and spiders running around....nice!!! I eventually got some sleep for the following days trek into the rain forest and to the caves.
The following day I woke up and had breakfast with the locals.  Eventually we got ready and set out in his truck through 4x4 muddy roads up and down to where we would park the car. The weather was beautiful.  It was freezing cold outside and the temp was 85 degrees and humid. We set out on foot into the rain forest, up and down a few mogote saddles and eventually got to the river where the first river cave was located.  
Tunnel Cave Puerto Rico
This River cave is in the north section of the tanama river and was more impressive in person than the picture above me.  We got into some life vests and began our swim down the current and into the river cave.  We could see the other side from the entrance but it was between a quarter and a half mile across. Bats flew by and drapery dangled from the ceiling as we slowly made our way out the exit of the cave to have lunch. once we were out of the cave and after lunch we continued to traverse down the river passing banana trees with the mogote mountains in our horizon.

Tanama River Puerto Rico
Continuing down river we passed by boulders and eventually came up to a waterfall.  THIS IS WHERE IT GOT REALLY INTERESTING!! as I walked closer to the waterfall, I noticed a beautiful hanging garden wall that was coated with flowstone formations and raining calcite rich water.  It was one of the best out of cave flowstone waterfalls I have seen. 
A small piece of the hanging gardens on the Tanama River

I continued around the bend and that is where the hole in the wall started to rise up. Another waterfall poured over as large vines, birds, and palm trees waved as the wind blew through this massive hole through a mogote.  Cueva Del Arco...WOW!!!  spectacular.

Cueva Del Arco Puerto Rico
Cueva del Arco is a waterfall natural bridge cave that the Tanama river ate through causing one of the most fascinating karst features I have ever seen. It is the largest natural bridge in the Rio Tanama river and one of the largest in the world. This place is one of the most amazing places I have ever been to in the world and I waited a long time to come here. 
Cueva Del Arco
 When we made thr cut around the bank on the tanama river you could see a waterfall gushing with water from inside a mountain. as you walk past the waterfall there is a spillway with numerous waterfalls covered in moss, vines, and flow stones that have been created from all the calcite in the water. The river ran through this natural bridge as you look up at the amazing natural wonder. There were snakes, bats, even palm trees growing inside this cave. Cueva Del Arco is something I have only dreamed of seeing and I am so grateful I was able to experience this amazing place in puerto rico. Afterwards we hiked back up the mountain and around the flowstone waterfalls which took us back to the car and we went back to the locals house to eat dinner.

Rain Forest hike back to Lares Puerto Rico
The following day, I went to go visit Cueva Del Indio, shacks beach, and cueva ventana.
I left the town of Lares and headed back toward Arecibo to a ancient lava bed shoreline that has been carved away by wind and water known as Cueva Del Indio. I pull in and park the rental at the facility and work my way towards the ocean coast.  The waves were hammering the shore line pretty good with 6-9ft swells but there was a distinct down climb to a ladder that continued to drop down into this cavern structure. This was quite a beautiful place with Tanio Petroglyphs on the walls and skylight windows allowing the sun to poke through the salty mist during high noon.
Tanio indian petroglyphs Cueva Del Indio Puerto Rico
I continued down the cavern and I could see where water was creeping in and out which created a siphon pool of ocean water full of mollusk life including urchins...these guys were everywhere!!

Cueva Del Indio Puerto Rico
I left this cave and walked a bit north to the 7 apostle sea caves of Puerto Rico which was another amazing site to see.
Sea Arch Puerto Rico
There were seven arches so I scaled around a few and worked down to one where I could be close to the water. 
Sea Arch Puerto Rico
It was a really nice change of pace to go from the jungle to the open ocean and view these amazing places all in just a few days worth of time. Even through I was by myself, I was having a blast looking at all of these locations and appreciating how beautiful Puerto Rico Really is.
I left Arecibo to work my way towards shacks beach which turned out to be a 4 hour drive round trip and I was not able to even get out of the car to see shacks beach due to all of the people parked in the area.  It was ridiculous.  I did get out to jump in the ocean a bit but later returned to the car to get back to Lares and make one last stop to Cueva Ventana.

Cueva Ventana Puerto Rico
 Cueva Ventana or (the Window Cave) has become a popular place for locals and is starting to become a popular place for tourists.  There were a lot of people that coming in and out of this cave system but I wanted to check it out so I parked and hiked up to the first entrance where you drop in through some vines and walk through a large cave passage
Cueva Ventana Puerto Rico
 Next you exit this large cavern and continue on into another smaller cavern till you reach the karst window overlooking the valley below.
2nd entrance to Cueva Ventana Puerto Rico

The cave itself had people coming in and out but that cause too much of a problem as the cave itself was quite large.

Cueva Ventana

Once I got to the window I could see why a lot of people love coming here.  It really is a beautiful place and the vista overlooking the valley in amazing.  There are multiple karst windows above and below this feature that require ropes that I did not have so maybe some other time I will come back with ropes and rap into the other quieter karst windows. Afterwards, I drove back to Lares and got some sleep so I could get ready to go across puerto rico to San Cristabol Canyon.

Cueva Ventana

I woke up super early the following morning to take meandering slow mountian roads down to ponce and around to Aibonito. The drive was a lot more annoying than I anticipated but I eventually made it to Aibonito.   Located between the towns of Aibonito and Barranquitas, the picturesque San Cristobal Canyon cuts its way dramatically through the Central Cordillera Mountains. This is Puerto Rico’s only canyon and is a very popular hiking destination. The canyon is nine kilometers in length, with its deepest point being around 150 meters, and has the Usabon River flowing through it.

San Cristobol Canyon Puerto Rico
 Diverse vegetation clings tenaciously to the cliff sides of the canyon and several fast flowing waterfalls and crystal clear pools add to the dramatic beauty of this unique location in Puerto Rico This hike was a more strenous hike which requires a helmet gloves and good water shoes so be prepared for a good workout.  After traversing around large waterfalls and scaling over house sized boulders, we made it to the deepest section of the San Cristabol canyon where we set up a rappel and descended down into a pool of water where the river continued. 
Top of San Cristobol Canyon Puerto Rico
This was amazing in itself as this was the location where the deepest section of the canyon was and is the deepest canyon in all of the carribean. The shear cliffs towered 1000 ft above me with a waterfall a few stories high.  We swam under the waterfall and climbed back through the rocks to a ledge where we could jump back down in the water from 30ft. 

San Cristabol Canyon Puerto Rico
After this, we continued on and continued to traverse down the canyon to view the massive 200 ft waterfall that feeds into this canyon system.  It was rather amazing to see and would make for a fantastic rappel from the top.  Finally we work our way to a confluence where we had to hike up the canyon and to the neighborhood where the locals lived.  muddy brown water started to flow from upstream indicating that a rainstorm hit and flood waters are starting to make their way into the river.  Just time time to get out!!

Afterwards, I left and headed over the the El Yunque where Robins Fruit farm is located which is where I usually go to camp in the South El Yunque District. The South El Yunque District is a jungle and is the most vegatated section of Puerto Rico.  The following day I slept in a bit and the clouds were in the valley below which was a beautiful site to see
El Yunque South Puerto Rico
I continued to drive over to the north district which is more of a tourist attraction but had some decent hiking trails I wanted to check out including the hike up to the cloud forest. It was a trail that took me up to the top of one of the highest mountains in Puerto Rico. 

Top of the El Yunque Puert Rico

The vegetation was a bit different at the top as the clouds engulfed the summit of the mountain. it was windy, a bit cool and raining. a lot. 
Afterwards, I hiked back down and went to visit Juan Diego falls which is a series of waterfalls that the locals know about.  
El Yunque Juan Diego falls Caribbean National Forest Puerto Rico
Its a beautiful place and nestled in the heart of the North El Yunque District.  I went to go visit La Mina Falls which is a popular waterfall where people go swimming at.
La Mina falls Puerto Rico

After Finishing up here I went back to the South District to hang out and relax for the last day in Puerto Rico. I woke up early to head over to the south district and see if I could find a place to hike around in but from what I saw, there were blown up cars, broken down roads and nobody was around for miles. So I decided not to leave the rental car there and head back to the south district of the El Yunque. I ended up getting a hotel so I could shower and get ready for the flight back out to Las Vegas to start my second leg of my trip and go to one of the most remote and arid places in the World.  Death Valley.   I was thinking to myself how interesting the change will be from a jungle to a desert and I was excited to be leaving Puerto Rico and going to this desert location.
I get to the Airport the following day and spend a day at the airport including my layover in texas so I could finally arrive in Nevada.  immediately I could feel the dry heat from the desert as I left the airport which was really nice!!  I got another rental car and stayed with a friend that night so I could leave early morning the following day to the great Death Valley
Moving Rock Death Valley
Death Valley holds the record for the highest reliably reported temperature in the Western hemisphere, 134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913, just short of the world record, 136 °F (57.8 °C) in 'Aziziya, Libya, on September 13, 1922. However, the record high still remains the hottest July temperature ever recorded Death Valley is one of the best geological examples of a basin and range configuration.
The valley is bisected by a right lateral strike slip fault system, represented by the Death Valley Fault and the Furnace Creek Fault. The eastern end of the left lateral Garlock Fault intersects the Death Valley Fault. Furnace Creek and the Amargosa River flow through the valley but eventually disappear into the sands of the valley floor. Driving down the long straight roads watching the sun rise with a vast open desert to the mountains around was just the shock and awe I was looking for after being in the jungle and in caves for almost a week prior.  It was an incredible feeling even though Iw as by myself throughout this whole journey.

I stopped at the entrance to look out into the vast valley below. I stopped off at a playa to see the moving rocks which is not a mystery at all.  Actually, they move during and after a rain storm when the surface is lubercated by the water from the rain storm and the high winds blow the rock leaving the trail that you see in the pictures.  yes it can take a couple hundred years but this is why the "Mystery moving rocks of Death Valley" actually move. After visiting the moving rocks, I went to Ubehebe crater which is a dormant volcano crater in the middle of the valley. 
Ubehebe Crater Death Valley

After that I drove to mosiac canyon and hiked up the class A canyons which was interesting to see the marble canyon walls and the barron desert landscape. I hiked upa  mountain to view the vista and look out into furnace creek which was very interesting just to think only days ago I was in a jungle and now I am in a barron desert.

Mosiac Canyon Death Valley
Afterwards, I drove back down to the mesquite dunes to watch the sunset and grab a campsite before everything was taken.  It was nice to hike out onto the dunes and watch the sunset in the dry night of the desert and look out into the vast nothingness of the deserts mystery.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Deserts are my favorate places to go to and this was a real treat to be out there.
Mesquite Sand Dunes Death Valley
The next morning I woke up and went to zabriskie Point which was a badland of mineral deposits overlooking the valley below.  I was able to hike through them and do a loop back to the entrance before it started to get hot out.  It was a good hike and it was nice to view the hoodoo spires along with the ripple mounds of mineral deposits that are easy to get lost in. 
Zabriskie point Death Valley

Afterwards, I went to Dantes peak where I was able to overlook one of the highest points in death valley and where I was going to hike across the following day.

Dante's Peak Death Valley
Afterwards, I headed over to Natural Bridge Canyon for a Class B canyon trip down the wash and out the Arch canyon route. This was rather interesting as I had limited technical resources and I was able to manage to drop 7 pitches in just a few hours time down to where the people normally stop.
Natural Bridge Canyon Death Valley
The Day was starting to run out so I took  trip to painters row which is a section of canyon desert bad lands with a lot of mineral deposits and I scrambled up Class A routes and down a few 5 nothing pitches back down to the car as it started to get cloudy out.
Painters Row Death Valley
Afterwards I grabbed a campsite at a place where there was a public campground and got some dinner and a few beers in me before I started to just talk peoples ears off...remember, I am by myself this whole trip so it was quite interesting to see and find myself around boy scout campfires to talk about this particular trip and other places that I have been to recently.  Night fell after the attempt for Verga to turn into water failed and evaporated before it hit the ground.  I got up super early when it was still nightfall to make it over to badwater basin so I could get a early start to cross the playa before the sun got too hot.

Badwater, a basin located in Death Valley, is the specific location (36° 15' N 116° 49.5' W) of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet (86.0 m) below sea level. This point is only 84.6 miles (136.2 km) ESE of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m).
Badwater Basin before sunrise.
I parked my car and started off into the cold night watching the sun start to throw colors of blue, purple, and pink across the basin. The ground was super crunchy and hard. these rimstone webs are from when water collects and evaporates causing these rifts in the ground which resemble a web of dry rimstone dam pools. I continued to walk across the playa and it was a lot farther than I thought it was.  It was interesting to see from the a distance where this ancient oceans shoreline was as there is a strata layer of salt deposit on the mountain to the east of me.  Furthermore we are now 280 below sea level so in the summer months I can only imagine hot ridiculously hot this place must get.
Badwater Basin Death Valley.

These rimstone salt beds started to mix in with the ground composition as it dried, rose, and cracked at the surface along with the salt composition on the ground.  I continued to walk across and eventually I came up on large chunks of salt composition

Badwater Basin Death Valley
this place is nothing like I have ever seen anywhere before in my life. such a barren wasteland and so wide open it was nice to get out there and listened to my ears ring. Eventually I made it to the other side and it was around lunch time so I cooked up some grub and headed back the way I came.  Eventually I made it  back to the car late afternoon.  I got back to camp and zonked out for the remainder of the night so I could spend my last day going into some slot canyons of Death Valley. 
Playa Death Valley
The Following day I woke up earlyish to see the beautiful sun rise in the badlands of the desert and just lay in the cool dry breeze of the deserts morning cool sunlight.

Badlands of Death Valley
 After a hike through the badland mounds I headed towards the Devils Gold Course to check out the sandy patchy grass feature that is here.
Finally I started to head down to sidewinder canyon and which is where a series of Class A and B canyons exist I started up the canyon and found some side slot canyons to climb up and around with some difficultly but I was able to make it to the tops of three out of four canyons. these slot canyons were distinctive for the conglomerate stone walls that they had unlike the smooth red sandstone walls of Utah.  After a day of going through these canyons, I decided to start my way back to Las Vegas to see my buddy and hit up one more spot before leaving back to Chicago, Valley Of Fire. 
Top of one of the mounds overlooking Death Valley from the south
I was so impressed with the spiritual experience that I had in Death valley which built up the anticipation along with the experiences that I had in Puerto Rico just a week prior, I wanted to make sure I wrote this down to not only look back at it but share this experience with the world as one amazing trip to take.

Sidewinder Canyon Death Valley
The road back to civilization was interesting, bitter sweet, and a mix of emotions from the desire to have human intereaction, to a spiritual awakening of what I love so much about this planets beauty.
I made it back to Las Vegas and hung out with my friends but got some sleep for the following days trip out to Valley Of Fire. This is another must do place to visit as the types of minerals in the sandstone are absolutely beautiful. 
Valley Of Fire Nevada

There are arches, small wind caverns, and stratified rock formations that look like candy in some of the places that you could go to.  It is like a mystical wonderland of sorts and I loved every moment of it.

Valley Of Fire Nevada

I followed some trails that took me by petroglyphs and went into the only known canyon route in valley of fire which was a lot of fun to do as well.

Valley Of Fire
I climbed up some mounds and buttes to witness some amazing natural arches like pagota arch and others in the area.

Pagota Arch Valley Of Fire Nevada

There were a lot of heavily travelled tourist routes in Valley of fire but they were pretty nice as they took me into some places that were just so colorful and amazing to see, I couldn't believe what I was looking at.
The layers of colored sandstone was something that I have never seen before and I was amazed to see how perfectly alligned the layers were without mixing in with each other.
Valley Of Fire Nevada

The Slot canyon were easy to walk through and only required some sections to have step walking and some light scrambling.  I Stayed at teh park for the full day and enjoyed hanging out at Valley of Fire, A place I highly recommend visiting when anyone passes by this place.
Valley Of Fire Slot Canyon

Valley Of Fire

As the sun started to set the colors of yellow, red , and orange really started to pop out and truly identify the name given to the desert aound here.
Fire Cave Valley Of Fire  
Some of the wind caves were amazing and intricate to view as to how the sand cut formations developed due to the wind.

Fire Wave Valley Of Fire
It was almost two weeks of Caves, jungles, culture, people, Desert, and spirituaity from which this trip allowed me to gain and I have to say this is one of those trips I dont think can be topped.  At least it will be very difficult to top from all the amazing places I got to venture to on this trip.

Valley Of Fire
 The picture below was the last picture that I took on this journey and its just a turning point in life to see how beautiful this planet is and how amazing and lucky we are to have such wonderful places to go.

Last Picture I took of Valley of Fire

You Might Also Like