NV – Valley of Fire State Park, Part 1

I tend to avoid state parks, but after seeing so many WOW photos and being an opportunist, it was impossible to say no. I’d spent the previous few days at Mojave National Preserve and then traveled along Lake Mead where I was lucky to catch this fantastic sunrise from my dispersed campsite. 

I even found some roadside flowers. 

This roadside hot spring surprised me. 

Will I get $10 worth of enjoyment? 

Atlatl Rock

First stop was an aerobic one where I’d get to seem some rock art.
The reward for the climb. 

White Domes

My first hike was the 1.25 mile loop around White Domes. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. YES I was WOW’D!

Fire Wave

It seems everyone knows about THE wave in the Vermilion Cliffs of Arizona. Access to THE wave requires patience, planning and persistence, all things I avoid. I knew the lighting wasn’t ideal, but I decided to check out this 1.5-2 mile round-trip hike. 

Fire Canyon Road/Silica Dome 

Rainbow Vista

I was underimpressed with this 1-mile round trip hike. I didn’t take any photos until the end where you are supposed to get a panoramic view of multi-colored sandstone. No WOW view nor multiple colors in my opinion, so the best I could do was capture an arch like shot. 

Mouse’s Tank (Petroglyph Canyon)

All that was lacking on the Rainbow Vista Trail was more than made up for on the 1 mile round-trip hike on Mouse’s Tank Trail. When you look around you see lots of varnished walls, but look closer and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. 

Age and vandalism is causing significant loss. 

Some art is harder to find than others. You could easily spend days and weeks scouring these canyons. This particular hike is a treasure trove. I took tons of photos as I climbed into nooks and crannies. 

At the end of the canyon is Mouse’s Tank, a pot hole of water, extremely difficult to access. Maybe the name is because only a mouse can access it? But alas according to the handout, it was named for an outlaw who used the area as a hideout in the 1890’s.

The Cabins

This triplex is a good example of tiny house living. Cozy with views, fireplace included.

Elephant Rock

I climbed up on some rocks near the east entrance for a sunset view. It was one of those nights though when not much happened. 

. . . to be continued

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 8, 2018

Resources:

  • Valley of Fire State Park
  • Nice reminder of their LNT philosophy 
  • Heat is a serious consideration when hiking in the desert
  • Be aware and knowledgeable of biological soil. 

Tips:

  • Showers are available at the truck stop in St George
  • Of course there are plenty of choices for good eats like this from Big Bear Diner. 

Links:

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CA – Mojave National Preserve, Teutonia Peak

Continuing on my theme of hike more, drive less I continued into the northeast corner of the Preserve after hiking the Barker Peak and Rings Loops Trails in the Hole-In-The-Wall area, and the Kelso Sand Dunes in the southwest zone.

I camped among the Joshua trees with this sunset view of Kesler Peak. 

Although I’m not in favor of rock art in wilderness areas and parks, I have to say this gave me a chuckle. 

The next morning, I enjoyed a magical sunrise. 

Dispersed camping for the win. 

On my way to the trailhead, I stopped by this memorial. 

Soon enough it was time to go hiking. 

There it is, Teutonia Peak. 

The trail is well signed and easy to follow. 

Rocks, rocks, rocks . . . means plenty of opportunity for exploration and scrambling. 

This slot might be a little narrow for any human to squeeze through. 

Wonder who lives here? 

How do these trees survive with such little access to soil? 

With all these rock formations, you can see how easy it would be to easily extend the hike well beyond 3 miles. 

And of course with rocks comes interesting geology. 

I even found this cactus of perfect proportions. 

Joshua Tree magic, so whimsical. 

What nice feet you have! So many toes.

Adventure Dates:

  • March 6-7, 2018

Resources:

Links:

 

CA – Mojave National Preserve, Hole-In-The-Wall

After spending time at Kelso Dunes (link to related post), it was time to explore the Hole-In-The-Wall section of the Preserve. The caves will have to wait for a future visit. 

I started by hiking the Barber Peak Loop, which as the name implies circumnavigates Barber Peak. 

There were plenty of botanical diversions like this one that made me think . .  I’m blonde, I’m red, want to be friends? 

Look at all those colors.

Geologic diversions. 

This would be a cool place to be during monsoon season when that waterfall would be running. 

Early blooms. 

Bird’s nest. 

Bunnies and birds were my companions. 

The rare tree provided much needed shade. 

The trail was well marked and easy to follow, except for the last junction. 

Hidden in this rock formation is a tiny slot canyon which is part of the Rings Trail. 

The rocks inside the canyon looked like swiss cheese. 

There was a tiny boulder scramble at the beginning of the slot. 

Aptly named Rings Trail to assist with either a descent or ascent. 

I had so much fun ending the Barber Peak trail with this tiny slot canyon, I went back and repeated the full Rings Trail. 

A little extra credit on the Loops Trail is a petroglyph site.

 . . .  to be continued

Adventure Dates:

  • March 6, 2018

Resources:

Links:

CA – Mojave National Preserve, Kelso Sand Dunes

After a fab few days with my friend and mentor Rockin’ (link to related post), it was time to move on. I’d originally planned to spend some time in Death Valley, but with a recommendation from Christy it was easy to shift plans. 

I stopped in Baker and visited the World’s tallest thermometer. 

In my post about Sequoia and Kings National Parks (link to related post), I mentioned I’d not previously heard of this thermometer and would not have understood this photo had I not later visited Baker. 

There are four distinct areas in the Preserve.

Northwest – Cinder Cones and Lava Beds:

I drove past the volcanic area, but ran out of time, so will save it for a future visit. 

Southwest – Kelso Dunes: 

I found myself a bit short of time after visiting the Kelso Depot, and knew I’d need to beat feet to make it to the ridge. 

Sure enough I found the sun slipping behind the mountain. 

I adjusted my plan and enjoyed other sunset views. 

The next morning I enjoyed sunrise from my nearby dispersed campsite. 

 . . .  to be continued

Adventure Dates:

  • March 5-6, 2018

Resources:

Links:

CA – PCT Hikin’, Tehachapi Style!

I continued my southern progress after a bit of a jaunt on the PCT at Walker Pass (link to related post) meeting up with my good friend Christy (aka Rockin’ of Lady on the Rock) where I got to participate in their Friday night hike-for-wine and sunset adventure. Photo credit: Christy

The next morning Christy and I prepared to hike the PCT at the Oak Creek crossing (Halfmile Mile 558). Photo credit: Christy

As seasoned hikers, we weren’t going to let a little wind and rain stop our hike. 

Tehachapi has a reputation of being windy, as evidenced by the wind turbines. 

Christy said the canyon was filled with beautiful trees before a big fire. 

Salad would not have been my choice on this brisk, breezy, wet day . . . but hey why not? And might as well bring the weight of heavy glass dishes. Lucky us, we found SUN minus wind, and enjoyed our lunch. 

Hiking in crazy weather is more fun with a friend! Photo credit: Christy 

That night the rain turned to snow. We had grand plans of snowshoeing, but when we found the road closed, Christy had a good Plan B. 

We departed the nature trail in favor of a lumpy up and down adventure. Christy says, yep, this is where it starts. 

The trees were beautiful. 

Spoiled with a table for lunch. 

It was a beautiful day with a beautiful friend. Photo credit: Christy 

We found a few visitors. Snow holds no secrets. 

Adventure Dates:

  • March 2-4, 2018

Links:

CA – PCT, a Walker Pass Jaunt

Leaving Sequoia and Kings National Parks (link to related post), I continued south. I’d always wanted to explore the Kern River Canyon, so I drove Highway 178. I’d selected a couple potential campsites with knowledge I was starting my drive around 4pm, much later than I’d like. I hadn’t gotten far when I came to stopped traffic. 

I don’t like to drive at night, and I would never choose to drive a road like this in the dark, but circumstances seemed to favor otherwise. This was not where I planned to watch sunset. 

Finally a couple hours later, the semi accident was cleared. 

I drove through the canyon . . . in the dark . . . missing all views while feeling extreme anxiety and stress. I found a place to camp, saw the full moon rising for a few minutes before it was obscured by clouds. Rain came during the night. I continued my drive toward Lake Isabella in the morning, hopeful that maybe this glimpse of sun would win. 

By the time I got to Walker Pass, the skies had cleared. I’d call that a WIN! 

Blue sky one direction, rainbow another. That’s a great way to start a hike! 

Who doesn’t like rainbows? Are these sycamore trees? They are a bit Dr. Seuss-ish.

When there are rainbows, you might as well expect rain. 

Look at how pretty. 

When it was time to turnaround, I was greeted with another rainbow. 

I was surprised and delighted by the variety of vegetation. 

These dried orange flowers really pop in the winter landscape. 

My first Joshua trees. 

I hiked south a few miles starting from the Walker Pass Campground (Mile #651 per Halfmile). 

Adventure Dates:

  • March 1-2, 2018

Links:

CA – Sequoia and Kings National Parks, Winter Perspective

It’s the end of February which seems to signal time for an early spring jaunt. Last year I departed home the exact same date. As I constructed my loose itinerary, I elected a western route along the Sierra unlike previous years when the eastern side got all my attention. I’d never been to Sequoia and Kings (SEKI) National Parks so now seemed opportune. I had no idea there was also a Giant Sequoia National Monument. I drove through it on my way to the northern end of the Park, aka Sequoia National Park (now merged with the southern end Kings National Park).

I was happy to find signs of spring. 

But I was reminded it was winter. I had one day for sightseeing. 

I camped near the entrance so I could make the most of the day. I awoke to fresh snow. 

Winter means . . . road closures and limited access. 

But look at that pretty canvas. 

I hiked the Grant Tree Trail to view the General Grant Tree, the third largest tree in the world. 

The ranger suggested I drive to Hume Lake. Along the way I got some WOW views. 

Hume Lake is outside the Park on Forest Service land. It was disappointing to see their lack of maintenance, I’m sure due to funding versus caring. But this really sends the wrong message. 

Much of the signage indicates the separation of the parks.

With the road closures and winter driving conditions, it took me nearly 3 hours to drive between the General Grant and General Sherman trees. 

I was ever so grateful to be driving a 4×4 with mud and snow tires, otherwise chains were required. On this date 75% of the pavement was clear of snow and ice. 

And finally it was time to see the largest tree in the world. General Sherman! 

Oh to be average. 

I really like this pictorial for gaining perspective. I didn’t know about the item second to the left until a few days later when I visited the world’s largest thermometer.

With low level snow in the forecast, I decided to stay at the Park’s Potwisha Campground and watched the mackerel clouds, wondering whether predictions would come true. 

The Marble Falls Trail begins from Potwisha Campground. The next morning I awoke to dry skies and decided to see if I could beat the rains with a quick hike to see the waterfall.

I found one early blooming Monkey flower. 

Those must be the falls? They look so tiny from a distance especially on this misty day. 

A zoomed view. 

It started raining about two thirds of the way. I was grateful as always from my hiking umbrella and rain jacket. I was proud of myself for not turning around. But as I climbed higher, the rain turned to sleet, turned to snow. You know I wanted to reach the ridge. 

I found some social trails to the falls, but this was not a day to go wandering so I settled for this distant view. 

I was delighted to find green along the trail, but not so happy to find two ticks. 

As I returned to the trailhead I meandered up the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River.

Adventure Dates:

  • February 28 through March 1, 2018

Resources:

Links: