A cold winter-like front came rolling in with high winds to keep us in the house Monday. The weather wasn't much better Tuesday morning but we wanted to get out, so we headed out to the Argus Range - our standby for this kind of weather day. The lower elevation, and often less wind, makes for a nice outdoor refuge from the elements. While the Indian Wells Valley to the west and Death Valley to the east were experiencing 30+ mph winds all day, in the Argus we experienced no more than 15 mph. Susan searched around on-line and found this hike with part cross-country, part BLM roads through an area where we had never been. Off we went.
The Argus Range is just west of the Panamint Mountains and Death Valley and experiences the same extreme dry climate. With a relatively decent rainy season this year there are flowers. While it was past peak for most of the annuals, there were still good flowers around. This area has long been mined for various minerals so the historical sites were also of interest to us.
We started by climbing an old mining road up a dry wash to the mine shaft. It wasn't much to see, but there was a Say's Phoebe nest just inside the entrance. Continuing up on a donkey trail we gained the ridge overlooking Water Canyon. Chuckar, Rock Wrens, Bell's and Black-throated Sparrows all kept us company for the climb.
|Hiking up the road|
|Say's Phoebe nest|
|Susan stands in a donkey rolling pit, used for dust baths to rid the animals of parasites in their fur|
|Standing on the ridge above Water Canyon|
|Water Canyon far below|
|View northeast toward the mouth of Water Canyon and the Pamamint Mountains beyond|
|View west to the Argus crest. Susan is hiking on the awesome donkey trail.|
|Water Canyon looking upstream to the west|
|Water Canyon looking downstream|
|Old miner cabin|
|PVC mine claim markers - also known as bird death traps...|
We were able to walk up the side canyon bottom usually following the donkey trail. Along the way Susan found a very cooperative Rosy Boa who allowed great photos, keeping with the general theme of cool reptile sightings for the past week or so.
|Side canyon escape from Water Canyon|
|View across water canyon as we ascend|
|Susan ascends the canyon|
|From the top back to Water Canyon|
|From the ridge looking south|
|Taking a break at the onyx mine|
|View across to Panamint Mountains|
|A beautiful Notch-leaved Phacelia still hanging on near the mine|
|Old mine structure|
|We think this is onyx stone, but we really weren't certain what we were looking for|