Monday, December 31, 2018

Hiking In The Hoar Frost

We did one of our let's try and stay in shape hikes.  It is local and allows us to do a fair amount of climbing and as many miles as we care to do.  When we started the wind had the clouds pushed against the mountains.  While it made it cold, bitterly cold, it also made it spectacular.  Worth the shivering.  Enjoy from the warmth of your home.

Gina, with Bob, Brian, and Shawn in the background

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Devil's Chair

Hike track link

ebird list

Link to an excellent website for the park

Paul sent out an ADH email with the title Hiking at the Devil's Punchbowl.  How could we refuse?  We had never heard of this Los Angeles County Park gem, which is surprising considering I've birded all around it, we've hiked the PCT within a couple miles, and it is a PCT alternate bypass around the yellow-legged frog closure.  During our PCT hike we chose to walk the Highway 2 bypass, rather than the Devil's Punchbowl alternate based purely on total miles and elevation gain.

The Devil's Punchbowl

Yes, it is so warm I am in a t-shirt.  Photo courtesy BJ Holden.

So, little did we know what we were missing.  In a nutshell, this park was just fun.  The geology is amazing, the plant diversity encompasses everything from the desert to Bigcone Douglas Fir. Birding was a bit slow, but I guess you can't have everything.  The visitor center and rangers who were staffing it were also a hit with our group.  We enjoyed the snakes, the rocks, the stories and explanations, and most of all the honey pot ants.

Big Berry Manzanita.  Photo courtesy BJ Holden.
The trail out to the Devil's chair.

Looking down from the chair.

Susan out on the chair

The view.
Panoramic view
The white area in the center is the Devil's chair.

Bob is sitting in what really should be the Devi's chair.

Velvet ant.  One of  visitor center's animals to be on the lookout for.

BJ, Libby, and Bob McGown

The view from BJ and Libby's lunch spot.

Up close look at some of the geology.

This explanation is from BJ "The ranger, David Numer, has been there for 44 years.  He gave me the whole story on the honey ants.  They forage for food and store it in the form of honey in specialized ants who swell up like little balloons and act as storage tanks.  David started that ant farm from a swarming queen about 6 years ago.  They are nocturnal.    They come out at night and have the run of the visitor center and go back in their ant farm home in the morning.  Amazing."

Ranger David and the honey ants.  Photo courtesy BJ Holden.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Zinc Hill

Hike track link

Zinc Hill is at the northern end of the Argus Mountain range near Panamint Springs, and not too far from Darwin Falls and Death Valley National Park. Friend Rachel casually mentioned this as a possible hike when we were out at the Panamint Dunes.  Jim Nichols kindly provided us with the information to turn that possibility into reality. Rachel, and other friends Brian and Gina joined in for the fun.

Zinc Hill is the brown bump way in the back.

Jim sent us a map and directions explaining how by following the smart donkeys up the mountain, and the old miner's trail down, we could do a loop.  And a fine loop it is with views of the Panamint Valley, Telescope Peak, and the Sierra from Olancha to Whitney.

Vegetation was sparse, and birds even more so, with just a loggerhead shrike seen.

This area is full of old mines and mining history from the lead-silver-zinc Darwin Mining District. We've already planned at least one or two more hikes to investigate. Dinner at the Panamint Springs Resort was very enjoyable. If you haven't stopped for a meal at this little gem, you're missing out.

Rachel and Gina checking to see if we are on track.

Admiring the view behind us.

Darwin Hills, Coso Range, and a few peek a boo Sierra Peaks.

Panamint Valley and Telescope Peak.

Getting closer.

Cosos, Sierra, and Inyos.

Almost there.

A granite bump on the shoulder of Zinc that we will bag too.

The miner's trail is visible to the left of Calcite Hill.

Looking back at Zinc Hill from the granite knob.

Calcite Hill up close.

It is rather steep.

Looking back at Calcite, the Granite Knob, and Zinc Hill.
On the way home we stopped at Trona to look at the Christmas decorations.  These two neighbors did an impressive job.  We weren't the only ones stopping to look.