Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Week in Pahrump, NV

Wine Ridge RV Resort was a great place to spend a week in Pahrump, NV. Located on the east edge of town with wide open desert views to snow touched Mt Charleston, this RV resort has two pickleball courts, two swimming pools and a hot tub and a winery with an award winning restaurant on site.

There are only four wineries in Nevada and two of them happen to be in Pahrump. We enjoyed free wine tasting at Pahrump Valley Winery (attached to the RV park) as well as the weekly wine dinner catered at the RV resort ($15 includes three glasses of wine and full dinner with dessert). We also had a delicious, free wine tasting at Sanders Family Winery located a few miles away.

Our Montana is in the second row, second site from the end (#821).
Very clean park with reasonable site separation and each row is slightly tiered giving the impression of more separation.

We had an almost unobstructed view of a couple of miles of creosote covered desert
between us and the mountains and Mt Charleston with just a touch of snow left.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge lies about 30 miles NW of Pahrump and about the same distance from Death Valley. What a wonderful surprise it was to find crystal clear springs in the middle of miles and miles of dry desert. This refuge is such a unique environment it has been listed as a Wetland of International Importance. The name comes from the Ash trees once abundant, now returning.

The water table is close to the surface in this area and geologic faults allow it to flow to the surface creating springs in the most unlikely places. Native Americans made good use of the abundant water for centuries before settlers arrived looking to mine or farm the land.

By the 1970's the springs and channels had been diverted for human use and big development plans were in place to build homes bringing thousands of people to the water. Thanks to the discovery of at least 26 endemic species here (which are endangered), the state of Nevada purchased the land from the developers and started the long slow process of returning the land to a natural state. 23,000 acres were declared a National Wildlife Refuge in 1984.

Beautiful metal work is scattered throughout the refuge.
There is an excellent visitor center with a very good movie describing the history of the refuge.

Spring at Point of Rocks viewing area.
Spring fed pools on the refuge hold four types of fish, plus other microscopic species
that have adapted over time to live here and no where else on the planet.

Boardwalks protect the recovering habitat.

Further into the refuge we stopped at Crystal Reservoir. This bright turquoise body of water was too large to capture the entire image. We walked the length of the dam for the incredible long distance views.

Far ahead of us on the dam we could see a large bird picking at something.

This hawk was eating a merganzer. I'll spare you the photo of the remains...

We stopped at the visitor center (only a couple of years old) and enjoyed the very informative 20 minute video, then walked the boardwalk along another beautiful spring and stream.

Another few miles drive brought us to Longstreet Spring and Cabin. An infamous prospector, gunman and horse breeder, Jack Longstreet settled in Ash Meadows from 1894 - 1899.

Longstreet's cabin built with the local limestone.

Longstreet's spring about 50 feet from his home.
Grasses have been trimmed as part of the restoration of the wetlands.

Endangered Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish.

We took a drive up Wheeler Pass road into the mountains behind our RV park.

Desert Plume flanks the road, joshua trees live here!

What do we spy in the road ahead?

Rattler crossing!

One of many large washes draining the mountains.

The wash deepened dramatically downstream!

Climbing out of the wash we were treated to masses of blue sage among the joshua trees.

Pale pink cholla!

We really enjoyed our stay at Wine Ridge RV Resort. Great group of folks playing pickleball daily, really nice pool and hot tub with a view of the mountains. The grounds are very clean, including the laundry room. Very quiet location, plus good Verizon and AT&T. We'd stay here again.

Onward, to Beatty, NV!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Week in Boulder City, NV

It was an easy 75 mile drive from Kingman, AZ to Boulder City, NV, where we checked in for a week at Canyon Trail RV Park. It's a pretty basic private RV park, with reasonable site separation and great views of nearby mountains where there are miles of trails. Though we had several windy days, we appreciated the fact that the park was not too dusty.

Our first adventure in the area was a great loop hike to the Colorado River and Arizona Hot Springs. We learned about this trail from John and Pam, who spent a month here back in 2014. Though we took the same route they did, it seems a new trail has been created in the last third of the loop that allows one to bypass the steep pourovers that they had to negotiate three years ago. This means we also missed the great petroglyphs they saw near the end of their hike.

Heading down the White Rock Canyon Trail.

We reached the Colorado River just a short distance downstream from Hoover Dam.
The water is being released from the bottom of the lake and is very clear and cold.

Looking upstream we can see how clear the water is and a few kayakers as well.
Now heading up Hot Spring Canyon Trail we came to a series of pourovers to negotiate.
John and Pam encountered hot pools below the ladder area, we did not,
 as the pools are created using sand bags and they had been washed away.

There were numerous people in the pool that Hans is climbing up to.

As soon as six people left this pool I got a photo!
With daytime temps in the 80's there were plenty of people enjoying the pools and the river.

So many colorful layers all around us!

How often do you see lizards in the grass?!?!

One day we did a sxi mile hike right from our RV. Bootleg Canyon trailhead is about a quarter mile from Canyon Trail RV Park, and provides access to many miles of trails...some quite steep. We hiked pretty much straight up Red Mountain and enjoyed long distance views of the Las Vegas Strip and snow capped Mt Charleston.

These trails are used by mountain bikers as well as hikers...
I can't even imagine anyone riding some of these incredibly rocky, steep, dangerous trails!

Zoomed capture of The Strip and Mt Charleston from atop Red Mountain.

Very old lava flows created fantastic shapes along these rugged trails.

Twice during our week long stay we ventured in to Las Vegas. We braved the crowds on The Strip just to experience it once again after many years absence (don't go on a Saturday, it's insane!), enjoyed delicious tiki drinks and music by Thee Swank Bastards and burlesque dancing by Szandora LaVey at The Golden Tiki, and walked the Fremont Street Experience.

Excellent surf music plus dancing at the Golden Tiki.

Classic signage with modern light all sorts of people watching on Fremont Street!

On our second trip into the city we caught the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil! No photos allowed, but it was a memorable musical spectacle!

We had an enjoyable walk at the Clark County Wetlands Park one day. They have a fabulous, free visitor center that describes how this lowest point in the valley has been utilized to create wetlands that help to process all the runoff and treated sewage from the entire valley to replenish the water table and Lake Mead as well as provide habitat for many different types of animals.

Believe it or not, even beaver live in the Clark County Wetlands!

Fortification Hill is another hike we decided to check out based on John and Pam's reportage. Oh my goodness...what a hike! Some sites describe the trail as moderate, others say it is very strenuous. I'd have to agree with Very Strenuous. A good portion of the trail is extremely steep with lots of loose rock under foot, plus there is some steep rock scrambling with serious exposure.

The views from the top were exceptional, 360 degrees including colorful mountains all around, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas Strip, Mt Charleston. We enjoyed the end results of this hike, but cannot imagine putting ourselves through this again, the potential for bodily damage is high. Hiking poles are advised on this trail!

At the trailhead there are two choices: head up the wash or to the right up the hill...both trails meet up later.
We chose to bear right at the start, and returned through the wash.
Fortification Hill is the dark mountain in the distance.
We will climb up the right side and walk across the top for a view of Lake Mead.

Up, up, up...alternating between gentle up and steep up, lots of loose rock under foot.
We'll eventually scramble up the dark rock wall high above Hans.

After all the loose rock trail, this wall was almost easy to climb, but the exposure was pretty scary.

Lake Mead in all her glory! Mt Charleston is barely visible beyond Hans' head.

Splashes of bright pink dot the hillsides as the cactus blooms start to open.

Yet another type of horned lizard!

A look back at Fortification Hill as we left the area. 

We had one other fun encounter during our stay, we got to meet Bill and Jodee and their sweet dog Tessa, fellow full timers whom I've followed for ages! When you read and comment on each others blogs/Facebook for years, meeting in person is the icing on the cake. If we're lucky our paths just may cross again later this year.

We're off to Pahrump, NV next. Fortunately our next stop has a pool because the temps are staying in the 80's for a while. Morning pickleball and a dip in the pool may be our routine for the next week.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Short Stay in Kingman, AZ

From Prescott we made the uneventful 140 mile drive to Kingman, AZ via highway 89 to interstate 40; though I-40 was pretty rough on the final approach to Kingman, it could use some new pavement.

This was our first stay in Kingman and we found some great trails to hike during our two full days in the area. First stop: the Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area.  Located on the south west edge of Kingman, this recreation area has about 20 miles of trails. The visitor center staff highly recommended the Monolith Gardens Loop and we loved it! We hiked about 6.5 miles through a blooming landscape studded with lush desert vegetation and fantastic rock formations.

Mid April turned out to be peak wildflower season in Kingman!

We came over a small rise and saw a vast valley dotted with giant rock outcroppings.

Our trail wound past pillared cliff faces.

I-40 passes over this dramatic canyon about a mile downstream.

We entered a lush wash.

Hans was trying to blend into the landscape on this hike!

This gila monster was the highlight of an already amazing hike!
We stalked him/her for quite a while.

We got a little too close here and it turned and hissed at us.

An abundance of cactus was just starting to bloom, both hedgehog and prickly pear.
The cholla were a long ways from blooming.

The hills were dotted with pink blooms....with thousands more to come in the next couple of weeks.

We climbed to this saddle and were treated to expansive views on the other side.

Close up, some of the rock outcroppings were sandstone with large holes created by wind and water over time.

For our second hike we headed a few miles south east of Kingman to Hualapai Mountain Park. This is where Kingman residents go to escape the heat. We hiked a great 5.5 mile loop that included pine and oak forest, a tiny bit of snow and incredible views from the top of 8,000 ft Aspen Peak.

It was wonderful to hike in a healthy Ponderosa forest. Recent winds had downed some of the old, dead trees. 

The Potato Patch Loop trail took us around Aspen Peak
and as we climbed the mountainside was composed of giant slabs of rock in places.
Hualapai Peak looms above Hans, it is the tallest peak in the range at 8,417 ft.

Just a few small patches of icy snow left on the north facing slopes.

Hazy views down into Kingman from Aspen Peak.

Hazy views to the east as well, plus the last remnants of snow.

A pair of horned lizards that seemed to be an adult with a youngster.

Another kind of horned lizard.

Peregrine falcons were nesting in the big rock formation.

Peregrine falcon.

Kingman turned out to be an interesting stop for hiking. We stayed at Zuni Village RV Park, a no frills bargain at $19/night Passport America rate. It had an excellent laundry room. There are several museums in town that we did not visit and more trails to hike so we'd likely stop here again if we are passing through.

Today we moved on to Boulder City, NV for a week...had to get settled in at our new location before high winds hit the area this afternoon...we're rocking and rolling a little here!