Being that the Owlshead Mountains are my favorite mountain range in Death Valley, one of my missions has been to fully explore all of the named and unnamed major canyons which can be found within the eastern half of the range.  After my Spring 2011 trip, I finally completed hiking all five of the officially named canyons.  But I still had some unfinished business with the major unnamed canyons.  Thus, during my Spring 2012 trip, I set out to hike the two canyons in between Sand Canyon and South Smoke Tree Canyon.  Nobody I talked to had ever explored these canyons, so another adventure was about to begin.  We parked at the same parking area which is used for Sand Canyon (which has become a fairly popular canyon over the past year).  From the parking area, it was about 3 miles to the mouth of the canyon (which is not all that far in Owlshead terms).  Once in the canyon, we hiked up it 3 miles to the cross-over point, after which we returned 3 miles down the next canyon North.  From the exit of that canyon, it was 4 miles back to our vehicle.  So, in total, the hike was 13 miles with an elevation gain of about 1,650 feet.  Both canyons proved to be very interesting.  The first canyon was quite confusing at first.  There was a maze of different smaller canyons making it hard to find the entrance to the canyon, and also making it hard to stay in the correct canyon.  But about halfway up the canyon, we encountered something surprising and truly amazing.  We discovered a short passage of narrows between two canyon walls made up of Owlshead rock (decomposing granite).  The Passage, as we have named it, was extremely interesting, especially in view of the mountain range we were hiking in.  In view of this, we assigned the canyon the informal name Passage Canyon.  The next canyon North also had some interesting aspects to it.  First, we came across lots of black grains or sand on the canyon floor, mixed in with the usual small decomposing granite rocks and pebbles.  It was suggested that this substance could be magnetite, amphibole (hornblende), or possibly pyroxene.  Being that it was confirmed to be magnetic, we are going to safely assume that it was magnetite.  On our way down the canyon, when we were almost to the mouth, we walked up to the edge of a stunning 50 foot dry fall in the main canyon.  We had never seen anything like this before in the Owlsheads.  We had to take a 20 minute bypass just to get around it.  In honor of this massive dry fall, we gave the canyon the informal name Great Dry Fall Canyon.  And one more thing that captivated us was the abundance of Smoke Trees which we found in the canyon.  With the discovery of these Smoke Trees, it has now been confirmed that there are Smoke Trees in four Owlshead canyons-- Through Canyon (known for a long time), Smoke Tree Canyon (discovered within the last decade), South Smoke Tree Canyon (the most of any canyon), and now Great Dry Fall Canyon.  The topo map down below shows an overview of many of the informally named Owlshead canyons in the area.  A Google Earth map is  included below it showing our route through Passage Canyon and Great Dry Fall Canyon (click to enlarge).
Passage Canyon GE map
Leaving our truck at the parking area for Sand Canyon:
At the beginning of the hike, we just aimed for the dark spot on the mountain range in the distance and hiked in that direction:
Getting closer to the dark spots on the range:
The dark spots eventually disappeared, so we aimed for this pyramid shaped rock:
Coming up on the wash of Passage Canyon:
From the same vantage point, looking further up canyon:
On the canyon floor now, looking back down towards the East:
Once inside the wash, we continued to aim for the pyramid shaped rock for a short time longer:
But soon we reached a major junction, one of many in this confusing maze of canyons.  For this reason, my sister had suggested calling this place Labyrinth Canyon.  At this junction, we stayed left and were no longer heading toward the pyramid shaped rock:
The familiar rocks of the Owlsheads up above the wash:
Heading up canyon while looking at the fan shaped ridge in the distance:
These were the only flowers we found in bloom in the Owlsheads in March of 2012:
In the lower canyon, the wash remained wide and easy to walk on, as seen in the next two pictures:
We soon started following the tracks of burros, who seem to like Passage Canyon:
Tiffany hiking up Passage Canyon on her return trip to the Owlsheads.  She had previously hiked Smoke Tree Canyon with me on November 21, 2009.  We did this canyon on March 4, 2012, which was 2 1/2 years later:
Continuing to follow the tracks of burros up canyon:
A small blockade of rocks that we had to climb over:
Beautiful scenery as we hiked up Passage Canyon:
Check out this flat rock slab with broken-off boulders resting below it:
Neat edge lines on this rock wall along the canyon:
The next three pictures show us progressing up canyon:
The canyon started narrowing down quite a bit as we gained elevation:
Steve returning to the Owlsheads after a full year away:
Small dirt hills give way to a towering mountain side in the distance:
Looking back down through the canyon as we kept hiking:
And looking ahead as we passed the midway point in the canyon:
Arriving at The Passage, which is an incredible short section of narrows, very rare for the Owlsheads:
Steve standing in the midst of The Passage.  This area was probably the highlight of the hike for me:
Looking back down canyon from the edge of The Passage:
Overview of The Passage from one side of the canyon wall.  Notice that it is a very straight slot which cuts through the rock:
Tiffany standing in the upper portion of The Passage, while the sun glows off the rocks in the background:
Turning around and getting a picture of the lower portion from this same spot:
One final picture of this area which shows the canyon walls rising up majestically:
Moving on, we were intrigued by this fallen boulder which has left space to crawl through:
Massive boulders resting in the wash of the canyon:
The Owlshead rocks have such a unique beauty which can't be found anywhere else.  Check out this triangle shaped rock-formed hillside in the distance:
From this even higher elevation, we could see further out to the East:
Check out the interesting rock shapes seen in the next four pictures:
A cactus growing out of a crack in the decomposing granite rock:
Now we have reached the cross-over point and are looking down the other side for the first time:
First we had to follow a small side canyon for a while:
Reaching a series of dry falls which would drop us into the main canyon:
Two pictures of Javan and Tiffany making their way safely down these dry falls:
Now in the main canyon, we spotted an interesting lone rock resting precariously in the distance:
And then we found this black substance on the ground:
As seen in the next two pictures, notice that the black substance is small and grainy, almost like sand.  A friend of ours found this same substance one canyon North in South Smoke Tree Canyon, and he confirmed that it was magnetic:
A closer look at the rock sitting up high above the wash:
Notice the contour lines and edges of this rock outcropping:
The canyon wall bends sharply to the left up ahead:
Two pictures of an incredibly large oval shaped boulder which is sitting in the wash:
The canyon stayed narrow for quite some distance in this area:
Tiffany peeking her head out from behind a rock in the wash:
Tiffany having more fun as she hangs from a rectangular rock:
A fearsome looking mountain side above the wash:
Zooming in on a pinnacle standing tall in the same area:
First appearance of Smoke Trees in Great Dry Fall Canyon:
Steve getting a picture by one of the Smoke Trees:
The long branch of a Smoke Tree hanging over the dry wash:
Smoke Trees in the Owlsheads, yet another factor that makes this mountain range unique:
Looking down canyon, it is evident that Smoke Trees are all over the place:
A close-up of the trunk of the Smoke Tree:
Unexpectedly coming to the edge of a massive 50 foot dry fall.  This is the biggest dry fall I have ever seen in the main canyons of the Owlsheads.  Thus, this canyon was given the informal name Great Dry Fall Canyon:
Another view looking down, showing how close we are to the canyon exit:
Looking straight down the dry fall, there is no way to safely climb down this one:
So we began bypassing it.  This is an incredible view of 50+ Great Dry Fall and the surrounding cliff sides as we walked around the bypass:
View from the top of the bypass towards the mouth of the canyon:
The bypass took about 20 minutes.  Once we got back into the main canyon, Smoke Trees were all over once again:
We hiked back up canyon to take a closer look at the dry fall:
Three pictures of our group standing by the 50 foot dry fall:
Saying goodbye to Great Dry Fall Canyon and Passage Canyon:
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