Tag Archives: California

Rings Loop Trail

Today’s #FridayFieldTrip was hiking the Rings Look Trail in the Mojave Preserve.

It’s a short hike that begins from the parking lot of the Hole in the Wall Visitor Center; it’s about a mile, that takes you past some great rock art, through some fantastic landscape, and then up over a series of steep pour overs with these metal spikes and rings to help you along. It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad to say I did it.

After the hike, I talked to a ranger. Mitchel Caverns (part of the state park in the middle of the Mojave), now has a full-time caretaker, many of the infrastructure projects (water, solar power, lighting of one of the caverns) have been completed. There’s no budget to staff the place at the moment, so it won’t be open to the public in this physical cycle. At least there’s a caretaker, so the damage and theft should now stop. So, it’s good news.

Saratoga Spring

It’s spring break at the college, so I took a #FridayFieldTrip on a Tuesday and visited Saratoga Spring in Death Valley.

My GPS worked great to get there, which is good because there’s no sign from 127 of where to turn. If you do decide to visit, look for the historic marker for Wade’s Exit, that’s the turn off 127.

Saratoga Spring is a place in the park I’ve never been before, way south in Death Valley.

The desert wildflowers are in bloom out there. It’s not quite the super bloom from last year, but there were some amazing fields, seemingly endless, of yellow flowers.  Sprinkled around were others, purple, white, and pink.

I also got to see the endangered Saratoga Spring Pup Fish, too. There’s are two pools near the old road (now a walking path) and there were huge schools of pup fish. The water, colored red by some mineral or maybe just the mud, didn’t allow for great pictures of the little guys, but the schools were huge, not like the small numbers at the Wildlife Refuge.

There was also the remains of a small cabin, perhaps a miner’s cabin? There wasn’t a sign to explain what it once was.

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.