Stillwater Mountains
Rampart Canyon
June 25-28, 2011



The objective of this trip was to evaluate two east side Stillwater Mountain canyons, Ramparts and Hare and to find a way around Ramparts Waterfall. On a previous trip coming down the canyon we found no easy way around this falls. This time it would be approached from below.

The trailhead road to these canyons enters the mouth of Hare Canyon. A shortcut between Hare and Ramparts that goes over a pass was found to be difficult. This shortcut takes about the same time as going out of Hare along the bajada. At the pass at the top of this shortcut there was a derelict barbed wire fence with tree limb posts.


Ramparts near the mouth had wide meadows of thick dry golden grass. At a quarter of an hour there appeared the first of several intermittent flowing streams, this one in a wide gravel wash. Bighorn tracks were seen in fresh mud. The canyon became progressively narrower and steeper with small steam cascades. There were cottonwood trees and many flowers were in bloom including a particularly impressive crimson columbines.


On reaching the waterfall at two and a half hours from the mouth of the canyon a small steep ravine to the left was investigated. Around the first rock buttress there was a pass over the steep ridge between the ravine and the canyon above the falls. It was composed of loose rocky soil and topped with a line of low trees. The near side was easily ascended by going up the ravine to the level of the top of the pass and traversing back. With careful foot placement the far side was securely descended. A flat gravel area was found above the fall for the night.


The next day ascending to Stillwater Crest several streams and small pools were encountered as well as many different flowers including several dramatic mariposa lilies. While traversing a short section of the crest and the ridge that lead into Hare I was conserving water in case I would need it that for dinner that evening.

Fortunately at the entrance to Hare Canyon there was a small clear stream to allow me to replenish my water supply. I soon drank the liter and a half I had with me then filled from the stream and set out to see if I could get to the car by dark.
There were scenic gravel slides on the wall of the canyon. Two separate short-horned lizards paused long enough to be photographed.

I arrived at the car with just enough light. I did not bother to boil water for dinner but sat in the back of my car and ate food that was available and got into my sleeping bag. As I was relaxing and moving around to get comfortable I developed a severe thigh cramp first on one side then the other.


Something was wrong – I realized that I had taken in considerable water that afternoon and had not eaten any salted food. I was in the early stage of salt depletion. I sat up, taking great care not to flex either knee, found salt, water, and cup then swallowed a teaspoon of salt in a cup of water. A smooth comfortable night followed.


The next morning I walked in the mouths of Ramparts and Cottonwood Canyons to explore the Fault Scarp of 1954 where there is obvious linear and vertical faulting that was caused by a 6.8 earthquake in 1954 that extended over 60 miles with maximum vertical and horizontal faulting of 12 feet.