China Date Ranch

20161104_140253The #FridayFieldTrip this week was a visit to China Date Ranch, about 90 miles from Vegas. The place has a great history, Kit Carson slept there, they grow wonderful dates and make scrumptious shakes and baked goods from them, plus there’s some wonderful desert hiking.

20161104_134444The hiking was why I chose to go there on Friday. There’s a narrows about two miles from the ranch. The hike is pretty easy, there is about a 350 foot grade up and then back down, but it was comfortable. Along the way, there’s an old mine (I didn’t go in), and the walls of a stone house with what seems to be an original wood floor. I did sit outside on the way back to take advantage of the shade a stone wall provided.

20161104_121152 20161104_121130The miner’s house was built in 1903. Not sure about the history of the mine. In other locations, there were historic signs that talked about the mining of gypsum and talc, so my guess is it was one of those.

The route to the slot canyon is well marked. Much of the path has stones on either side of it. The area is of “Critical Concern,” so it’s good to stay on the path.

Between the mine and the turn off to the slot canyon, there are the remains of an old railroad line. It was a spur line to cart the mined gypsum and I guess it was pretty trecherous because of the steep grade. There was even a derailed train experience where folks were hurt and one of the railroad workers died.

While the track, as well as most of the ties are long gone, there is a high, earthworks train bed with a few old ties that runs along part of the trail.

20161104_123830You have to cross a small creek to get to the wash leading up to the slot canyon. It’s great to hear the sound of rushing water and to see cattails in the middle of the desert (and very close to Death Valley). This, of course, draws lots of birds. As I’ve said before, I’m no expert on birds, but I do love to see them and hear them sing. There were also lots of lovely, small, orange, yellow, and black butterflies (and lots of fat lizards!)

While there’s a bit of a grade up the wash, it wasn’t horrible to walk and there were lots of different colored rock in the wash, mixed with sand.

20161104_124022The slot canyon isn’t very deep and it’s blocked by these huge boulders. They don’t look so big in the pictures, but the grey, lower bolder is about 7 feet tall. The guide said some folks climb the boulders and continue on, but that’s not really my thing. I got to the boulders, walked back to the mouth of the canyon, ate my apple and meditated for a bit in the near, absolute quite of the place, and then walked back to the River Trail and the gift shop.

I treated myself to a date shake (so very good), did battle with a few bees over who would get to eat that shake, and then headed for home.

It was a lovely day. A bit warm, but a good breeze.

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