Slickenside Canyon is the northernmost canyon in the Owlshead Mountains and perhaps the hardest canyon to hike into because of the sheer distance involved in reaching it.  It is the major canyon northwest of Talc Canyon.  To reach Slickenside Canyon, the best parking spot is on the West Side Road about 1 mile from Badwater Road.  There is a major bend in the road and that is the place to pull over and park.  Slickenside Canyon is visible from there because of the prominent white hill which can seen from a long distance away.  Slickenside Canyon is one of the few canyons which I have assigned a name to.  I usually don't like to refer to canyons on my report with general terms.  If I was doing so for this one, then I would label it as "Major Cyn N of Talc Cyn".  So that's why I chose a name and also use the informal canyon names selected by others and printed on geology maps when there is no official name.  Previously, I had originally assigned this canyon the name "Colossus" because of an anomaly that appears on Google Earth which appears to show the canyon to have a deep section of slot narrows.  However, we found out when we hiked into the canyon that this was only a distortion of the satellite imagery and there were no slot narrows.  At the same time, we also found a huge slickenside (shown in the logo image above) as we hiked through the canyon.  It was definitely the largest slickenside ever found in the Owlshead Mountains, and thus Charlie and I switched the name from Colossus Canyon to Slickenside Canyon in honor of the amazing slickenside we discovered.  Slickenside Canyon has scenery throughout that is typical of the Owlshead Mountains, which happens to be my favorite mountain range in Death Valley.

Upon attaining the ridge, I had my 4th ever view of Owl Lake from the ridge above an Owlshead Canyon.  In succession, I have seen views of Owl Lake from the ridges above Through Canyon, Sagenite Canyon, Sand Canyon, Slickenside Canyon (this hike), and Contact Canyon (later on the same trip).  We ended up looping down into Talc Canyon from the ridge by way of a side canyon which had over a dozen dry falls which had to be downclimbed or bypassed.  It was not easy and it was really surprising that we didn't run into an obstacle in the Talc side canyon which put a stop to our hike.  On our way down the Talc side canyon, we found a desert tortoise which had died a couple of years earlier.  It really was the saddest moment ever in my Owlshead hiking, as I have wanted to find a desert tortoise within the range for years now.  And this was not the way in which I wanted to find one.  The tortoise appeared to have slipped off a dry fall and cracked his shell.  We had no idea how he got where we found him, as he was seemingly stranded in the middle of a series of dry falls that even we had trouble climbing.  I guess it will forever remain a mystery as to how that tortoise managed to get himself into such a predicament which ended up costing him his life.  As darkness descended upon us during our Spring 2011 hike, we hiked down and out of Talc Canyon.  Talc Canyon thus became the first canyon in the Owlsheads that I have repeat hiked.  And one final event which happened to us was being played with by a Kit fox.  For nearly an hour, as we hiked by our flashlights and passed through the Confidence Hills, a Kit fox circled around us and kept running ahead of us and darting back and forth across the wash in front of us.  The Kit fox was quite curious and extremely playful.  It was a neat way to wrap up our hike through Slickenside Canyon and Talc Canyon.  (Note-- click on the Google Earth route map below to enlarge it).
Slickenside Canyon GE map
Parking along West Side Road about one mile off of Badwater Road:
The major canyon north of Talc Canyon cuts to the left in between the two ridges which are sticking out.  It is nearly 3 1/2 miles of hiking just to reach the tip of the closer ridge:
Wildflowers were in full bloom in the Owlsheads during our early March 2011 hike:
Charlie hiking up the long fan to the mouth of the canyon.  The terrain was rugged and hard to deal with:
A massive field of decomposing granite boulders signaled that we were in the Owlsheads:
Reaching the tip of the first ridge and then looking out into Death Valley central to the north:
The prominent white hill seen in the distance here is the guide for finding your way into Slickenside Canyon (informally named by Steve and Charlie):
Slickenside starts out very wide.  The small hill in the distance has to be navigated around as it guards entrance to the inner canyon:
Working our way around the hillside by staying to the right:
Coming up on the huge slickenside which we named the canyon after:
Indeed, this is the largest slickenside ever found in the Owlshead Mountains and is simply breathtaking to behold and stand next to:
Another view of the slickenside before heading further up canyon.  The hike is somewhere between 5 to 6 miles to reach this point:
A picture of Steve standing next to the canyon's namesake:
The canyon narrows as we continue heading towards the white hill in the distance:
The next three pictures show some brief narrows which were in a side canyon we happened to pass by during our journey:
Check out the rock designs in the next two photos which show the type of scenery which sets the Owlsheads apart:
At this juction, we split off and are no longer heading directly towards the white hill, as the canyon we wanted to check out turned to the left here.  There are quite a few different junctions in Slickenside which would take a week to fully explore:
I hiked up a nearby hillside to take this picture of the white hill in the distance:
A massive boulder has fallen into the middle of the wash here:
Our hikers are passing by a wall of boulders which have lined up naturally in the wash:
Passing by some large boulders in the narrow canyon in the next two pictures:
The red colors on the hillsides are very prominent throughout the many junctions and side canyons of the Slickenside Canyon area:
Looking ahead to see the canyon rising steeply, with a quick left, right, and another left:
A narrow passage which we were expecting to lead to a dry fall:
And sure enough, a dry fall blocking passage with nice steps leading up to the top of it:
Jeremy and Jordan getting their first taste of dry falls in Death Valley.  Little did they know that they would encounter a dozen more in the Talc side canyon later in the day:
The canyon stayed narrow above the dry fall as we kept progressing:
A small area to climb up as elevation gain was greatly accelerated in the upper canyon:
This area felt like we were walking through a cathedral of Owlshead rocks:
The final ridge can be seen in the distance here which provides access to the other side of the range.  We would head left at the next junction:
The next four pictures were taken as we continued getting closer to the ridge:
Check out the gorgeous red pinnacles off in the distance.  Charlie said it would be worth coming back here just to check them out:
Working our way up the side of the canyon now to attain the ridge:
Looking back down on the canyon which we had been hiking in earlier:
Looking at the scenery due west of our position:
Attaining the ridge and seeing our first view of Owl Lake and the Quail Mountains:
Looking to the north from our ridge we could see some more colorful red pinnacles and rocks:
An excellent view of the prominent white hill which had guided us since the beginning of the hike:
Looking through a rock outcropping with howling winds nearing 60 mph.  It was around this time that we found a rattlesnake which almost got stepped on:
View up Badwater Basin into Death Valley central from our ridge:
An even clearer view of the white hill.  We are not sure if the white is from talc or something else:
Crossing along the top of the ridge as we hiked towards the head of Talc Canyon:
A panoramic looking at the basin on the other side of the range with Owl Lake in the distance (click to enlarge):
Owlshead basin panoramic
A couple of rocks sticking up on a nearby bump on the ridge:
Two more pictures of Owl Lake off in the distance.  Views like this are very hard to come by:
Zooming in on Badwater Basin and the salt flats around it from our 3,670 foot peak.  We are nearly 4,000 feet in elevation higher and 10 miles away from where we started at this point:
This is the dividing line in the range between the officially named Owlshead canyons and the basin on the other side.  The small canyon you see near the bottom left of the picture is actually the head of Owlshead Canyon:
Looking down into Talc Canyon from its head:
Incredible panoramic view of Talc Canyon and the massive headwall which surrounds it (click to enlarge):
Talc Canyon overview panoramic
The huge boulders of decomposing granite can really make a person look small:
Looking straight down the Talc side canyon which we hoped would safely drop us into upper Talc Canyon:
If you look carefully, you can see a hiker at the top of this dry fall:
The next five pictures all show more dry falls which we had to either carefully climb down or bypass:
And the moment which ruined my day.  Finding a deceased desert tortoise in between a series of difficult dry falls.  I still cannot figure out how the tortoise could have gotten here in this remote, steep side canyon of Talc:
Three more pictures of dry falls as they got more difficult in the lower part of the side canyon.  We very nearly cliffed out several times, which would have meant hunkering down and spending the night here:
Working our way around one more massive boulder before getting to the bottom.  The last two dry falls were the most difficult of all of them, but we made it:
Returning to Talc Canyon one year later.  My first hike in Talc Canyon took place on March 4, 2010 and my second on March 7, 2011:
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