Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rambling in Southeastern Nevada – December 2012 - Part One

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It was a white christmas. Our home has become the holiday dinner gathering place.  Due to the storm the Lady drove down out of the snow and picked up her parents as I got the prime rib roast – horseradish crusted and mesquite wood smoked – going on the grill. The Barking Spiders joined us, bringing wonderful scalloped potatoes and special cheesecake. We ate as we watched the snow whirl and fall outside. The house was warm, smelled of good food, and was filled with happy voices. It felt as the holiday should.

The in-laws were safely shuttled back home through the storm. They were happily packing a large stash of leftovers. It was early evening. We were back home satisfied it had been a wonderful day, dinner, and celebration, and then the green start flag dropped – last preparations for the trip and the yearly ritual of “killing christmas” were underway.

The truck was all packed the previous evening, gassed up, ready to go. The Lady’s whirlwind assault on holiday decorations began. The Lady loves to get the decorations up early, most all gifts with special meaning, and the tree in its place right after Thanksgiving. That tree was now naked and tossed out the front door into the snow with direction to me, “The tree’s outside. Get it out of the stand and onto the burn pile.” When the holidays are over at our house, they are over, dead and gone. And if we are off on a winter break trip, everything must be in order before we leave and with an early wake up of 4 am and predawn launch the next morning – you understand the whirlwind. The Lady was excited to get going and so was I. We were making a trip into new territory and were filled with expectations for a wonderful adventure.

The first morning after waking in the camper the Lady joined me outside, carrying our coffee mugs. We watched the sky lighten over the northern end of the Pahranagat Range. We climbed the hill behind us and looked at Highway 375 lining the edge of Tikaboo Valley running northwest, our drive of the day before.

Our first adventure was to immerse ourselves in some of Lincoln County’s Ancient Rock Art sites. We stopped at White River Narrows.

It is sad that these sites have been thoughtlessly vandalized. In the previous photos I have photo edited and removed most of the recent destruction. Here is the panel of shame with Ricky and Steve's dickhead glyphs.

Looking at this, I hoped that everything will even out with karma; all will come into balance. I imagined that Ricky invested all his money in Las Vegas real estate ventures prior to the collapse, lost it all, and now lives with his mother in her single wide mobile home in Wendover. Steve’s fate was even more severe – he sold his soul to the devil. He is beholding to many backers, became a congressman and serves on the House Ethics Committee. Karma.

Our last art site was the Martian House where the faces have horizontal lines and antennas.

We turned back toward the south and wondered where the day’s travels would take us. The drive south on Highway 93 took us through Ash Springs and Alamo. We turned southeast on Highway 168. If you are ever near this intersection, stop and take in what is Coyote Springs. Get out of your vehicle and stare in awe. I could not help but ask out loud, “Why?” I also thought about Ricky and Steve. They could be involved with something like this.

Nearing sunset, we pulled into Valley of Fire State Park. Many friends have told us about Valley of Fire and we planned at some part of our trip to stop. Now seemed like a good time. The afternoon light was spectacular on the red sandstone.

We grabbed a secluded campsite in the Arch Rock Campground. We didn’t even bother to pop the top; we set out for a quick look around. When you are with the Lady, this usually involves climbing. We circled the sandstone crags of the campground and figured a wash and a notch would take us to a high spot near our camp. It did, but it also brought us above another camp with a pop up truck camper. Something seemed very familiar.

Could it really be? Could it be the Teds and could we have wound up in the site across from them?

The planets were certainly aligned. This was serendipity. The girls played together climbing in and out of every cubby hole in the rock they could find.

Ted put his red handled axe to work and had a crackling fire going. It wouldn’t be a Ted camp without fitting holiday decorations. We enjoyed dinner around the campfire.

As I took the above photo I noticed the near full moon had risen and was casting glowing light on the red sandstone. It looked like a good time to have some fun with the camera. This photo also has the glow of Ted’s campfire.

The Lady and I took a walk to be part of the night.

The next morning, before dawn, I wandered among the rock. I did such a good job the Lady couldn’t find me and I got a cold mug of coffee. Prior to sunrise, for a few moments the rock glowed with a warm red………………..

…………………………….and as the sun hit the color turned to a blazing orange.

All too soon the sun was high enough to spill its light across the landscape.

Our plan for the day was to explore the areas along the road north from the Visitor’s Center. Our first stop was a hike out to the fire wave, featuring multicolored striped sandstone.

Every nook and cranny held something to see.

The colors and the day were just about perfect.

We could have wandered for hours.

We returned to the truck and drove to road’s end at the White Domes. Here we explored along the 1.25 mile loop trail.

There are remnants of a movie set for The Professionals.

The sign at the trailhead mentioned several movies filmed here including Star Trek-Generations. I was more inclined to see where Rachel Welsh had been and find the sites where scenes for One Million Years BC were filmed.

The trail took us into a narrow slot canyon.

Here’s looking back at the narrow slot from the upstream side. Makes you want to go take a look inside, doesn’t it?

The area is a garden of arches.

Our next stop was the trail to Mouse’s Tank. Mouse was the name of an Indian and “tank” is cowboy lingo for a basin in a drainage that holds water. Many times these are bedrock basins in narrow pieces of canyon. The word “pocket” is also sometimes used to describe a “tank”. This is a very heavily used area with lots of people. So if you’re into people watching, this is a great place. Not that we intentionally ease drop, but sometimes the snippets of conversation that we catch are entertaining. Although busy, this is a must see spot. The trail drops into Petroglyph Canyon and the area lives up to its name.

We had lunch at the trailhead prior to walking down to the tanks. It was now mid afternoon and we got to wondering what we would do next. Although we do tend to do a lot with much active time, this was a fairly laid back trip for us. The Teds were also exploring in Valley of Fire, but wanted to check out other sites. We had said our goodbyes that morning but added if we finished up late in the afternoon we may get back together and stay the night at Valley of Fire’s Atlatl Rock Campground. There was a place about an hour and a half away that we had on our list of prospects so we decided to proceed with new adventure. The Lady was also pretty "peopled" out and wasn't much interested in seeing more fur coats and heels.

We headed west on the Mead Reservoir National Recreation Area’s Northshore Road. We had fun talking with the National Park staff at the entry station as mine was only the second Interagency Volunteer Pass he had seen. Both the Lady and I have more than enough hours accumulated at this time to receive annual passes until it is time for both of us to go “geezer.”

Lovell Wash drains out of the southwestern side of BLM’s Muddy Mountains Wilderness. Research told us it had some interesting narrows. We found a high camp spot outside the boundary and settled in for the night. Although we were alone it was a bit noisy as we were along the flight path of one of the Grand Canyon helicopter tour companies operating out of Las Vegas. They were more annoying than meat bees but the racket stopped after dark.

After dark we were haunted by the light pollution glow from Vegas.

We enjoyed a long quiet walk in the dark, exploring, listening, and watching. We were excited to get going in the morning to see what we would find.

The narrows are about .75 mile long. We broke into the sun on the upper end.

We were stunned by the beauty of the sky. We both wanted to stop and just look at the sky and treasure this time spent here.

At the upper end of the narrows is a near vertical slab of mudstone with preserved ripples from an ancient shore line or stream bed, hundreds of millions of years old.

We dropped back down into the narrows and figured this canyon could be the highlight of our trip (the places we continued to visit erased any need to think about ranking). This place is special.

This was a Saturday morning and we found out this is a fairly popular day hike for Vegas folks. We met a few groups of nice people and found about 10 vehicles at the trailhead.

It was now time to head for our main objective of this trip. We would head east to a remote part of Nevada up against the border with Arizona. We got a kick out of the sign that welcomed us.

We were not deterred and what we found beyond this sign was pure magic for us.

The adventure continues, click on Part Two.

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