Monday, March 14, 2016

Argus Mountains -- Great Falls Basin

Last stretch of road leading to trailhead

Back in November Bob and I went to Indian Joe Canyon in the Argus Mountains.  We made it to the overlook of the Great Falls Basin parking area, but were unsure where the trail headed down.  We decided to figure that out today.

The road up to Great Falls Basin is a sandy wash with way too may motorcycle whoop te dos, which makes for slow going.  Finally, we reached an official looking sign board, which we thought would give us some idea where the trail head was.  Nope.  So, we wandered around a bit and when we found all the fencing to keep motorcycles out, we figured we must be in the neighborhood.  We were right.

The trail appears to be an old mining trail and heads up the hillside.  At the top there are rock cairns to help distinguish the "trail" from the many donkey trails.  We wandered down it a bit until we knew how to connect it to the trail to Indian Joe Canyon; so if any of our friends ever want to do a car shuttle hike, we can lead.

After that, we found a very promising looking donkey trail and headed off to explore some of the springs of Great Falls Basin.  Instead of water, the first thing we found was a very belligerent donkey.  We gave him a wide berth and found five more donkeys.  Hmm.  They were much friendlier donkeys and only ran away from us.

Picking our way up and down and around and through the rocks we eventually saw Willow, North Fork, Arrastra, Elliot, and Orchard Springs.  There was even flowing water and tree sized willows.  Even better would have been a bunch of migrants but we were a bit too early in the year for that.  Resident bird species showing nicely were black-throated sparrows, rock wrens, and a prairie falcon that could be nesting in the area.

Flowers were much better than we expected and we were treated to displays throughout the day.  That was an unexpected treat.

Fiesta flower

Trail - up, up, up and into the basin

The "Falls"

Telescope Peak (Death Valley) across the Searles Valley below

Great rock formations everywhere

An old fence?

Phacilia and Coreopsis

Amazing erosion in an area that gets less than 2 inches annual rainfall today

Chia and Coreopsis

Anyone have any idea on what this flower is?

The Basin

Cross-country traveling

Walking the rocks

Rock cress

Argus Peak

Irish Bells


Balance rock

Mimulus in the spring runoff pools

Miner's structure with unknown purpose

Arrastra Spring - one of many in the area with permanent water

North Fork Spring

The Basin looking northeast

Do you see the whale?

1 comment:

  1. You guys are basically off-trail. That's tough hiking. The whale rock photo is especially awesome. Thanks. Wish we had the time and stamina to be with you.