Monday, April 16, 2018

Joshua Trees to Junipers and Pink Cholla to Pines

April 5-8, 2018
Pahrump, Nevada

After the wide open nothingness of Amargosa Valley, the small town of Pahrump, Nevada is mass civilization! 

We arrive at Saddle West Casino and RV Park on Thursday after our short 45 minute drive. Check-in is a challenge as there is zero signage, but we finally get set up in the all asphalt park. It's fine for $25/night and everything works well. In fact, the WiFi is really fast.

After refilling our empty coffers, I spend Saturday binge-watching some favorite TV shows with all the blinds closed and the AC on.

I saw that Hans and Lisa (Metamorphosis Road) found a nice drive up to Wheeler Pass when they were here, so Sunday we head out to see how close we can get to the snow. We find Lisa's pink cholla, but none of the pretty snakes they saw on their visit :-(  

The dirt road takes us through Joshua Trees, into thick pines, and along rock formations. With the clouds moving in and out, the temps drop into the low 60s. But we don't find the snow here.

Healthy Joshua Trees spread out in all directions.

As the road narrows we're surrounded by pinons and junipers.

The pines smell lovely.

Bill finds bat caves in the rock formations - no bats in sight.

On the way back down the hill. Pahrump is much bigger than we thought!
Instead of returning home, Bill finds a road through Wallace Canyon that looks like it might get us up to the snow. Let's go!

We travel through more Joshua Trees and shrubbery before dropping down into the canyon. It's a bumpy trail over lots of rock. In some areas the brush is as tall as the Jeep and tight on both sides. In others we are surrounded by tall rock canyons. Eventually the trail shrinks to a two-track, and I turn around just below the snow. It's a raw and rugged area with nothing but the sound of the wind in the trees.

I've never seen these pink cholla anywhere else. They look so delicate!
We don't see anyone else all day.
It's like being between

walls of brush on both sides.

The pink cholla was expected, but these pink trees are a big surprise!!

Close to the snow.

Layers of blue

We even get a few drops of rain - just these, nothing more.

These creepy moth cocoons are in many of the bushes along the trail. Eweeeeeee
The bottom of the canyon.
Back at home we have dinner and enjoy another beautiful sunset.

Just as we're ready to pull out Sunday morning a white car pulls up beside us and a man comes to our door. It's Rick Watson! He and his wife Carlene graduated from our high school and have lived in Pahrump for over 30 years. Unfortunately we didn't know that before now :-(  He saw my posts on Facebook and thought he'd see if he could find us. Thanks Rick!

It's another short drive back to Las Vegas where we pull in to Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort. A huge park between Highway 160 and Interstate 15, we're here for four days unless we decide to stay longer.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Canyon People - Part 2

April 4, 2018
Amargosa Valley, Nevada

We were told. We were even "shown". Still, Titus Canyon in Death Valley National Park is a beautiful and exciting surprise. Once we get over the several miles of rough, washboard, teeth rattling dirt and rock from the highway to the hills, the drive is full of many Wows!.

Everything we've seen in Death Valley has been wonderful, but this is definitely the highlight of our visit. Thanks John and Pam (Oh the Places They Go) for making sure we didn't miss this!!

This shy female quail Chukar (thanks Sue!) greets us as we near the hills. Love her markings.
I always look back at photos of the start of trails and think "We had no idea how amazing this was going to be!"

Colorful mounds,

and dark ridges line our entry.
Tessa likes taking me to the top.

Others show up along the way, but for most of the day we're on our own. Ahhhhh....

This is a one-way loop drive so I remember to look back.

The only other wildlife sighting of the day.
We finally go topless like real canyon people. Bill is happier about this than he looks :-)

Although it is in John's blog post, this section of narrow, shelf road looks "less fun" from the bottom.

Not that bad, and so worth the views!
Our anticipation is for the "slot canyon for cars" that we've heard so much about, so when we come over the top of the pass we are blown away by the beauty below. The colors and textures are stunning. It's a road you have to pay attention to, with large rocks and deeps ruts, but it is a beautiful area. 

Down the road we come to Leadville, a small mining ghost town where the post office was only open for six months before closing permanently. 

Another Jeep has the "prime spot", and gives good perspective for the long views.

At the summit.

What a palette!

In the dictionary under switchback......this.
Surrounded by drama.

1926 gold mind

I like our place better.
Just past our stop at Leadville, we come to the first canyon. With the top off we have views in every direction. We're also reminded to bring hats when we do this next time!

Between canyons, the road enters a wide area where a small panel of petroglyphs sits at the edge. Many seem to be layered, and it is difficult to tell how many are ancient story telling.

What awaits around the corner?

We should have done this a long time ago.

That sun's warm!

We imagine dozens of critters watching us pass below.

It's a privilege to visit this remote place.

The canyon widens.

I'm happy to see that throughout this area, people have stayed on trail, ensuring our continued access.

A park sign marks the location of the petroglyphs, but provides no information on their origin.
The last section of Titus Canyon is a twisting, narrow, tall canyon that is the star of the show. There is a feeling of amusement park fun combined with an ancient sacred path. We take our time and enjoy every minute.

Getting snug.

Fluffy reflections.

Another photographer makes a quick stop and shows how deep the road is in the canyon.

Finding some shade along a short side canyon.

Natural formations mimic rock art.

Up close!

Up high!

Weaving our way through.....

.....and all too soon we're out the other side.
There are no signs for high-clearance or four-wheel-drive for this route, but I wouldn't take anything else. One of the guys we talked to at Leadville said he wished he'd known or had better tires. Another pickup was changing their flat tire in the wash. Again, we're very happy we have our Jeep.

Thursday we move on to Pahrump - where we find some more canyons to explore!