Tag Archives: hiking

St. Thomas

20161125_132737I’ve been wanting to visit St. Thomas for some time. I was close by while visiting Double Negative. I’d heard the road had been washed out in the spring, but I was close, so I drove over and the road was open.

For decades, St. Thomas, a Mormon settlement, was the largest city in southern Nevada. Located in a valley fed by the Muddy River and the Virgin River, there was an abundance of water, so a great place to farm and live in the desert. Native peoples had lived in the valley for centuries. Then, Hoover Dam was built and Lake Meade created. St. Thomas was underwater in no time at all. With the droughts and usage, Lake Meade has dropped and 20161125_134210St. Thomas has been re-exposed.

There’s a 2.5 mile loop trail that takes you from the old boat launch down to the town site and around some of the foundations. That’s all that’s there. Foundations and a few metal remnants.

It’s odd at times because you’ll be walking through sand and then through piles of little clam shells. Of course, there were colonies of mollusks when the place was under water.

20161125_140627The sign says the trails aren’t maintained, but most of the foundation sites have been cleared of plants and grasses, so there’s some maintenance going on there.

Anyway, it’s a nice hike, pretty easy, and there’s lots to think about, from the old town, to knowing there was about 100 feet of water over the top of the site (over your head), to the river and mountains around you.

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.

Ash Meadows

14650346_10154508467171145_2071271473551497587_n This week’s #FridayFieldTrip was an exploration of Ash Meadows Wilderness Refuge. I visited several springs including the Longstreet Spring, Roger’s Spring, Crystal Spring, Devil’s Hole, and several other springs at the Rock Point Boardwalk. It’s amazing that tens of thousands of gallons of water rush to the surface in the middle of the Mohave Desert every minute.

Such an amazing day seeing lots of different birds, a cotton tail bunny, several types of endangered pupfish, flies, dragonflies, and did I mention, blue and white headed ducks, and lots of birds. I really should become more familiar with bird types.

The Longstreet Spring is next to the restored cabin of Jack Longstreet. He used the place as a hideout, but also spent time as a barkeep and guide and horse breeder.

14670713_10154508467276145_7525254008722605253_nThat’s the spring where I actually got to see pupfish. The little pupfish, a living fossil, has managed to survive in the desert, despite the changing climate, threats of development, and changing water levels and temperatures. There are four or five pupfish species that are endangered and only live in these small habitats at Ash Meadows. The Devil’s Hole pupfish were the catalysts to getting Devil’s Hole turned into a national park and the Nature Conservancy buying the Ash Meadows land from developers and turning it over to the government who created a Wildlife Refuge.

14657252_10154508467356145_9206893814825532058_nThere’s an excellent video at the Visitor’s Center that gives the history of the refuge and also shows the goals of the area. There are still a lot of people who are angry about the creation of the refuge. All I can say is that it was great to get to hike around the area, enjoy the stillness, and encounter such a wide range of life in this desert oasis.