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.
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.
I’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 St. 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.
The 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.