Box and Hidden Canyons (Nevada, USA)

Party: Felix (author), Dylan and Ellie
Photos: Felix

I woke when my alarm sounded and headed into Walmart to use the amenities. I had breakfast after driving to our rendezvous point at a pleasant park on Shadows Cliff Pky.
D&E arrived right on 0830 as I was finishing with my teeth brushing. We packed gear and leaving one car drove a short way down the road to Stange Ave. The old topo. map I had was horribly outdated, but nearly any map would be! As we began our approach hike through the foundations of row apon row of future homes. A primitive road was found beneath some power lines and we followed this (past some dog walkers) up to a quarry which was much larger than the map suggested, so large that it now pressed against the sides of the mountains. We contoured ’round on the loose slope until we were past.
An old jeep trail wound up the valley past our target wash. Not far up we found the break dam that meant we were in the right spot. After climbing over the wall the canyon narrowed, small trees and shrubs growing at the bottom of towering limestone walls. The canyon didn’t look very trafficked and we had to weave our way around spiky shrubs as we ascended.

We soon reached the canyon junction, you could go either way from here; we decided to take the main branch that involved climbing up a cable ladder – or as Dylan demonstrated, chimneying up beneath a chock stone.

A larger ‘drop’ soon followed, also fitted with a sturdy cable ladder. We found a dead falcon/eagle at the top.

The scale of the canyon increased as we continued and the hangers from rock climbing routes could be spotted on the walls, and sometimes chains at the top. [Dylan later looked up the area on MountainProject – I think the area was call Waterland].

A huge boulder blocked the canyon above. You could climb around it on either side, but the left was perhaps the easiest. (An anchor was built around a pinch point, so if you wanted you could rig a handline, or if you wanted to abseil/rappel from the top.)

Being limestone, the canyon had lots of small openings in the walls, but we didn’t really find anything you would classify as a cave – though one was pretty dark and I received a small cut below my eye for not letting my eyes adjust.

We were pretty much at the end of the canyon when we scrambled up to look at an impressive cliff-face – where there any climbing routes? Certainly the question on Dylan’s mind… we didn’t spot any. The trail at the base probably made by big horn, judging from the amount of scat.

We dropped back into the creek bed, soon scrambling up the other side for some great views down the valley. We scrambled down a gully going over to a large overhang that had a rope dangling across its mouth. It was very old, and liked like it had been someone’s climbing project, but they had never made it back.
At the back of the overhang was some strange amber-like substance. At first we thought it might be some kind of petrified scat, but it was way too far up one section of the call. It was very hard and quite heavy. In one piece you could see some plant matter.


[EDIT 10/Feb] Rick Ianniello helped me identify this as a pack rat midden (

We continued down the valley which narrowed into canyon with fun down climbing (found one of these runaway balloons that children let loose). We popped out at our packs and had a quick lunch. My wraps had developed a hole in their centre, making for some extra messy burritos!

We climbed out of the canyon a little ways down and contoured around a valley with many small abandoned mines decorating its flanks. Dropping down from a saddle we collected piece after piece of styrofoam until we could carry no more.

We soon reached the top of the next canyon, which began with a 25m(?) abseil, We rigged using the rope I liberated from Frenchmans the day before – it was the perfect length.

Another shorter pitch followed with lots of fun down climbing.

We found some small fossils, but it wasn’t until after the third (last) drop (the anchor was a little interesting, featuring a rock at the top of a long crack. The tape/webbing was girth hitched around the rock and then ran the length of the crack), that we found some larger faces full of fossils!


Soon, we reached the end of the canyon – some very nice diagonal bedding. We headed down the wash, collecting more rubbish/trash and finally following one of the numerous mountain bike trails back to the awaiting car.


As we were driving off to complete the car shuffle we saw doughnut girl! She was wearing a skirt with doughnuts on it, socks with doughnuts, a hair bandanna with doughnuts, was holding a tray of colourful doughnuts and probably other doughnutty things. Her shirt read “Doughnut Worry, Be Happy”. So later that night when I walked past a discounted bakers half dozen (7) I couldn’t resist!fo

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