Friday, February 16, 2018

Singing Sand

Hike track link

Fringe toed lizard

We were off to meet friends down at the Colorado River for a weekend of camaraderie and birding.  What to do along the way?  My first thought was more birding.  After looking at the birding options, I quickly switched to hiking and Kelso Dunes caught my eye.  According to various internet sources the dunes reach 650' and cover 45 square miles.  We would explore a mere fraction of the total dune complex and focus our time on climbing to the top of the highest dune and then sliding down to see if we could get the dune to "sing" to us.  Sing you might ask?  Yes, when conditions are right the dunes make sounds when you walk on them.  Conditions were right and we got to hear the dunes sing.  It was amazingly fun and definitely worth the hike to the top.

A couple of you tube videos with sounds of the sand:

On the way home we stopped at the Blythe Intaglios.

For a nice site that includes overhead photos try:

Other web site with overhead photos.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Backus Peak

Hike track link
ebird list

More peak bagging for us, and I am really at heart more of a lake bagger sort of person.  Peaks are nice, and can have great views, but it is also possible to fall off of peaks.  Lakes, not so much.  Unfortunately, lakes are in short supply in the desert, so ...

Backus Peak

One of the local peaks we had a route for was Backus Peak.  I think Bacchus Peak would be a better name.  My reasoning is Bacchus was the god of wine, and too much wine can cause people to do foolish things such as climbing hideously steep sandy mountains.  But we figured we had never been.  We decided to invite our friend Brian whose trail name is "Nuts" along, as this would certainly fit.

After an hour of walking in the sand it is getting closer
More peaks to climb
And closer

And closer
And closer
The view from the top looking west
The view from the top looking east and down at Five Fingers

Try not to fall off when you sign the peak register

And it was a death march sort of day spent either in steep sand or in steep shale.  The view was certainly nice, ok it was spectacular - Morris, Owen's Peak, and Jenkins Peak up close and beautiful.  It really showed why the PCT curves around in this area as it does, but I decided not nice enough to ever justify another trip in this life time.  And then it happened, Bob was reading the peak register and there was my name boldly emblazoned.  I had been there in 1997.  Well maybe I'll put this one on my list to do again in another 21 years.

The infamous peak register

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Nightmare Gulch

Hike track link

This is a hike we recently missed two opportunities to join a group for, so we got a track from Paul and set out on our own. It was the last day before the area closes until July for raptor breeding and it will be much too hot for hiking then. Nightmare Gulch is a popular area in Red Rock Canyon State Park - a land of beautiful eroded sedimentary and basaltic cliffs and mesas.

We set out across the sandy floodplain and into the canyon proper. Almost immediately we saw the attraction of this area as the red and brown cliffs started to close in. In flooding rains the various rock and soil types erode at differing rates and create amazing shapes and colors.

Farther up the canyon we entered a maze of close-in slots and gullies. Travel became more interesting and fun as we continued. In some spots I had to remove my pack to fit through the limited space.

At the top of the loop route we entered an area Paul's route noted as Magic City. The incredible formations made it easy to see how well this name applies! More interesting formations continued all the way back to the car. Definitely a hike we will do again!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Dome Mountain

Hike track link

Paul planned another fun And Day Hiker event.  We started at the upgraded and rededicated memorial to USAF MAJ Michael Adams, the fatality in a 1967 X-15 crash.  This was very interesting as I had no idea it even existed, or the X-15 program for that matter.

Our group for the day.

Then we did a bit of 4x4ing out to the trailhead to Dome Mountain.  I wasn't really expecting much from Dome Mountain.  I thought it will be just another volcanic dome, but I thought I haven't been there, so I should go.  And it was just another volcanic dome, but the volcanic columns along the way were interesting, and the Artists's Pallet tuff on the way back, was lovely.  So, lovely in fact that I could spend a day just in that area.

The remains of last years desert candles.    It must have been glorious.

The fast group heads down.

Rachel and I explore the tuff area.