No Name Canyon
|Up canyon to Sierra crest|
I typically drive up into the canyon and park just below the aqueduct pipe, hike up the road until it ends, and then follow the cow trails up curving to the north. Eventually, it gets so rocky and steep that I just declare victory and have lunch before I head back down. And that is what we did this time. I expect 10-15 species on a hike like this in the winter, so was happily surprised to end up with 18 species. Nothing unexpected, but having a singing California Thrasher was very nice, and the group of noisy Pinyon Jays escorting us up the canyon was a joy.
|Up canyon toward crest|
|View south down canyon|
|Looking down canyon to the Indian Wells Valley|
|Upper LA Aqueduct at the finish|
|Upper LA Aqueduct|
Bird List (such as it is)
Bob and I have an annual trip where we meet friends at Lake Havasu to bird and laugh a lot. On the way there we look for birds and flowers. This year’s good bird to chase was a Lark Bunting in Helendale. When we got there the wind was blowing 40+ miles per hour and all the birds were hiding on the wrong side of the fence. Fortunately, I hadn’t yet used up my all patience for the year. So, I waited in the car burning through it until our bird hopped through the fence. Very nice.
The wind ended any more thoughts of birding in the area, so we decided to see if Amboy Crater had any flowers. We choose that as Death Valley already has a nice bloom in progress and Amboy has had amazing displays in the past. We figured it would be a bit early, but we could scout it out.
Along the drive we lost the wind, and while we weren’t greeted with stunning fields of desert gold, bummer, we needed to stretch our legs so we started to wander out to the crater. There is a 2-3 mile loop trail that goes to the top of the crater for nice views of the surrounding area. Along the way we discovered blooming sand verbena, and dark-eyed evening primrose. We were happy to see any flowers so we kept wandering, taking photos, and enjoying the day.
|Dark-eyed Evening Primrose|
It didn’t take long to get to the crater, so we headed up for the views. When we got to the top, the wind found us. Not a little breeze, a howling wind. I crab crawled off the summit into the crater and thought I would be OK. Not so, the wind was being funneled through the crater and was rushing over every bump and ridge. As I walked along the wind kept blowing my legs out from under me. Eventually, the wind got both my legs at once and I was down on the trail holding onto a rock for dear life. Bob showed up and grabbed hold of me. He had a death grip on my arm and I had my other hand on my shoulder. While I was on the ground my hat slipped over my glasses, so while we headed down the trail I could see Bob’s shoes with one of my eyes. Every time his shoe moved one of my feet went into that spot. After we got off the crater, the wind was just howling and I was able to walk on my own, getting sand blasted along the way. In the time it took us to get down from the crater our footprints in the sand had disappeared.
|Amboy Crater from a distance|
|Amboy Crater and surrounding area|
|Descending the crater rim|
|Battling the wind on the crater rim|
The wind was really howling!
The BLM brochure can be found here.
Barbour Peak Loop Trail and Hole in the Wall Trail
|Sunrise on approach to Hole in the Wall|
Bob was happily taking photos, so I decided to head into the Barbour Peak Loop Trail, which connects with the Hole in the Rock Trail. This is also marked as Barber Peak. I guess spelling wasn't that important when it was named. Barbour Peak is an easy 5-6 mile loop, up and down through the rocks and out into the desert. Once upon a time there was a nice section of juniper pinyon to travel through, but that burned years ago. It doesn’t look like it will grow back anytime soon, a general lack of water and grazing cows. There is in other sections an amazing diversity desert plants. I had four species of cholla, a yucca, a prickly pear, and two different cactus. There was also a bush with cat claw thorns on it that I got a bit too close to.
Along the way my first bird was a singing Crissal Thrasher. I did not expect that at 4000’. I was thinking it was a confused bird, but as I had several more, I guess not. I also ran into several flocks of Black-throated and Brewer’s Sparrows. My funnest bird was a Golden Eagle. It was perched on a cliff and was calling loudly, perhaps looking for a mate or defending territory.
I ended up having a nice hike with fun scenery, plants, and birds and Bob took photos of several cooperative birds.
A bit about the Hole in the Wall trail can be found here.
|Hole in the rock|
|Entrance to Hole in the Wall|
|The trail complete with trail marker on the left|
|Up I go|
|Looking back down the first set of rings|
|Looking back down the second set of rings|
|The trail is worn in the rocks on the right|
|Opalite Cliffs with a few junipers and a pinyon|
|A different prickly pear|