Southwest hiking trip, April, 2022, Part 1: Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

I accompanied my husband for a week of hiking before he attended a long delayed outdoor photography course in southern Utah. We began by flying to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the friend we planned to visit there had a last minute family emergency. And much as we wanted to see the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show, we were not ready to be with unmasked people indoors for that amount of time. So, we kept to our hotel, and to the great outdoors, of which there is plenty to go around in this part of the world!

April 21 – Flying to Las Vegas

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Flying over Mt Jefferson on our way south…

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And directly over Red Rock Canyon, with its beautifully displayed Keystone Thrust Fault (gray Paleozoic Limestone lying atop tan and red Mesozoic sandstones), where we would be hiking tomorrow.

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We circled the Las Vegas strip before landing.

We could see the strip skyline from our hotel:

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By day;

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including the marquee for the show we wanted to see;

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And by night.

April 22 – Red Rock Canyon

As we drove west toward Red Rock Canyon, we could see a storm coming in…

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We began at the Visitor Center, which has excellent outdoor exhibits that explain every category of natural and human history of the area.

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Sheepshead Peak and Calico Basin redrocks

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Geology exhibit, storm clouds

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Desert tortoise

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Wildflowers, storm clouds

Then, instead of being allowed to drive the 13 mile one way scenic drive to trailheads and viewpoints, we were asked to leave, as they were evacuating the park. We assumed it was due to flash flood hazard. Fortunately we had noticed nearby Calico Basin Trailhead, which was not closed. We waited in our car as the brief storm passed through, then hiked the Calico Basin and Red Springs trails.

In Calico Basin, it was lovely to walk among the cross bedded sandstones and spring flowers, to a small canyon. I heard, for the first time in many years, the descending scale of the Canyon Wren song, though I never did see the bird.

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Trailhead

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Sheepshead Peak again, beyond Calico Basin

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Paper daisy? Lots of new to me wildflowers on this trip.

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Hedgehog cactus

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Crossbedded sandstone

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Canyon at the end of the trail

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White crowned sparrow?

As we walked the boardwalk around Red Springs, we saw more birds, flowers, and interesting rocks, all the while being serenaded by violin music from an ongoing wedding.

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Red Springs

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California Quail

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Petroglyphs, orange globe mallow, white evening primrose

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View back to Las Vegas from the ridge above Red Springs

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View back into Calico Basin

We decided to check the park entrance again, and it had just reopened, so we drove the Scenic Loop, stopping for views at the High Point Overlook:

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Toward the southeast, Calico Basin

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Sheepshead Peak, Paleozoic limestone to the northeast

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More Paleozoic limestone to the north

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Northwestern slopes of Red Rock Canyon

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Western slopes

Then we drove into the Willow Springs area, and took two short walks into the rocky landscape.

First, the Petrogyph Trail:

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Trailhead

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We spotted a pale pink penstemon in the wash.

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Signage at the Petroglyph Wall

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Pictographs

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Petroglyphs

Next, we walked a labyrinthian maze to Lost Creek:

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Trailhead

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Around the tree, up the stairs,

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Under the overhanging rock,

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To a trickling waterfall at the end of the trail.

Finally, we stopped at Red Rock Wash Overlook for a last view of the area.

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Late afternoon light over Sheepshead Peak and Calico Basin.

We enjoyed our day in this beautiful landscape; and were next looking forward to a few days of hiking in southern Utah.

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Last words from the Visitor Center.

April 2022

We returned from our east coast trip early in the month, happy to see our bulbs and crabapple tree in full bloom.

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Checker lilies

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Tulips

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Crabapple

On April 11th we had an unusual late season snowstorm covering all the blossoms. It melted within a day, and though hail, wind and rain hit sporadically that week, we were also treated to several rainbows.

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Snow on the crabapple blossoms

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and tulips

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Hail and crabapple blossoms

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Sunny deluge

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Rainbow

We hiked the Lyle Cherry Orchard West Loop on April 6th, – our second time on this new trail. Today we saw the early spring flowers, the always spectacular views, and a lot less wind compared to our hike here last December!

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Eastern gorge, red poison oak beginning to leaf out.

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Death camas in abundance throughout the lower plateau.

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Death camus

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Mt Adams from the upper trail

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Pink filaree carpeting the upper oak groves

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View to the western gorge and early balsam root blooms.

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Balsamroot

On April 15th, we took a quick loop through Tryon Creek on our annual spring hike to see the trillium and skunk cabbage….

April 21st to 27th we travelled to the southwest, Nevada and Utah, the subject of my next post.

On return to Portland, the neon green of our city glowed from the airplane window. I was pleased to see the dogwoods and azaleas in the neighborhood in full bloom.

My knitting this month:

And…I celebrate the approval of our new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson…though her presence will probably not be enough to thwart the regressive decisions looming….