Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hike 2016.037B -- Upper Rattlesnake Canyon Trail, Cedar Breaks National Monument, UT

Hiked Friday, July 29. 2 miles.

After finishing the Alpine Pond hike, I headed over to the Rattlesnake Canyon trailhead. This one is just outside (north) of the boundary to the national monument.
My intent was to try something different for sunset. When I was here in the fall, I caught a sunset from along the trail to Spectra Point. The next morning, I hiked to the Ramparts Overlook (It would appear I never blogged that hike!).

The sunset was undisputably amazing from that trail. But I did that, already. I looked at a map, and it looked like maybe I might get some nice views of the amphitheater rim, lit up by sunset, from this trail, too.

Alas, the clouds that began building ever when I was still down in Cedar City continued to build, and the sun was invisible as it set. So, no "rocks on fire," this evening.
Nonetheless, I knew this trail was supposed to give me a few views within the first mile down, back into the amphitheater. I thought it might be interesting, in its own right.
This turned out to be partially mistaken. The views were too close to the cliff, so you couldn't see a very large portion of the rim. You could look deep down into the "canyon." But, again, it was overcast, so the colors were somewhat muted.

The meadow of the upper trail segment was still pretty, however. Lots of wildflowers, here. Orange sneezeweed seemed to be the most common. There's also a shot of silvery penstemon, here.
Wildflower id's were using the Cedar Breaks National Monument wildflower app, which I mentioned in my previous post.
There were also plenty of deer seen on this hike. I saw one or two on the way in. But, on the way out, I saw two clusters of 5 or so each, all within about 1/2 mile of the trailhead. But I was too lazy (and it was getting dark), so I took none with my dslr. And my phone camera is just too low of a resolution and too low of a focal length to produce a useful image of the deer.
I may one day try going further down Rattlesnake Canyon trail, at least to Stud Flat. But, from the map, it doesn't look like the view up will be very complete. Looks like you'd have to go further down, then cross back up Ashdown Creek to get a better view up at the Breaks, and that would require sloshing down the creek for several miles. That hike sounds very scenic, but probably too wet for my taste. But I would still like to try at least to Stud Flat. We'll see.

Still lots of catch up blogging to do. Not much recent hikes, so I'm getting to catch up some, although I'd like to get more hiking in, too. Looks like not much, until September, however.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hike 2016.037A -- Alpine Pond Trail, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Hiked Friday, July 28. 1 mile. I took this short hike from Chessmen Ridge Overlook. This little alpine lake can be approached from the south or the north; I took the first one, which is from the south.

Hiked here last fall. Then, it was a little late for fall color. This time, it was a little late for spring color. There were still plenty of flowers in bloom, but also many that had already gone to seed.
It's a nifty little hike, that ends at a small alpine pond. Well, actually, it goes around the pond. As mentioned, above, the southern trailhead is called, "Chessmen Ridge." The northern trailhead is called "Alpine Pond." It's supposed to be a two mile loop if you walk the whole thing. Last fall, I hiked from the Alpine Pond side, so, this time, I hiked from Chessmen Ridge. I took the lower, or left trail towards the pond, then returned via the upper trail.

There's an app from Cedar Breaks that has photos and descriptions of many of the wildflowers in the park. I've had it for a while, so I no longer remember if I found it on their website or just searching on the google play store. But, as is typically the case, I just took pictures during the hike, with the intent of identifying the flowers, later.
Of course, some, I already knew. Others, I knew their family, but the specific species. For example, the second and seventh pictures of this post are obviously Indian Paintbrush. The third one is obviously a form of lupine, but I wouldn't have known what kind (although I did note it looked similar to the one I saw at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The best match I found was Silvery Lupine.
The thistle was Arizona thistle. The larkspur is given as subalpine larkspur. the large and common (on that day) white flower (sixth photo) was Colorado columbine.
The ninth shot may be of Aspen daisy or Oregon fleabane. They're relatives, and, apparently, can come in different color varieties. The 12th shot may also be one of those two, but a whiter version.
Couple of large moths or butterflies hovering around. He seemed partial to the subalpine larkspur.
One deer, I saw from a bit of a distance It's with a telephoto, and then cropped a bit. He was against the tree line. The trees were dark, but a ray of light struck across the photo, partially illuminating the deer.


I saw many more deer on the drive back.
The last shot is kind of neat. It's right along the highway, where the upper part of the loop comes quite close to the main road. Nice meadow, lots of flowers. The yellow ones were well past peak, but the color was still pretty impressive. Should have come a few weeks earlier, though.

OK, guess I'll leave it there.
After this little hike, I decided to check out the upper part of Rattlesnake Creek trail. Did that, next. Many, many deer spotted on that trip, too.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hike 2016.038A -- Parowan Gap, Utah

Hiked Saturday, July 30. One mile. By itself, this is not really a hike. It's just part of what I did that day.

I was poking through some tourism information as I sat in my motel room in Cedar City the night before, and came across information on Parowan Gap. Ironically, I may have come across it before, but several on-line sources still describe the final approach to the Gap as "a good gravel road." Good or not, a long drive on a dirt road may not have appealed to me in the past. But, seeing it so prominently featured in several different handouts, I figured it must be pretty accessible.

Turns out, it is, because it's no longer gravel. In fact, the way has been fully paved for quite some time.

Parowan Gap is a natural break (gap) in the mountains, west of Parowan, UT. From Cedar City, follow Main Street (UT-130) north, across I-15, and a total of about 13 miles. A sign will direct you to turn right, on Parowan Gap Road. Parowan Road heads towards the only break in the hills before you. At the entrance to the Gap, a sign welcomes you. A large parking area, picnic benches and a pit toilet, are on the east side of the gap. The sign says it's 1000 feet away.

Not knowing any better at the time, I parked on the east end. Either way, the road is lined by a hardened walking area on the shoulder, and fences to keep you away from the rock art. You should, of course, respect the art and avoid climbing or touching the rocks, as this would speed their deterioration.

Pay attention to the road as you walk and take pictures. On the day I was there, there was very little traffic. Still, you should always be paying some attention to traffic, if you're standing right adjacent to any road.

Some icons on the rocks looked familiar; I've seen similar etchings elsewhere in the West. The centipedes, for example. Some humanoid shapes also looked familiar. But I saw no desert bighorn, nor spiral patterns. I also saw several unfamiliar etchings, like the "zipper," or bug antenna, which local experts believe are tied to the use of this gap as a giant calendar.
Whether that's the purpose or not, we'd never be able to know with certainty. But it is still neat to be able to gaze upon the rock art left by people from hundreds, and perhaps over a thousand, years ago.
There's also one panel with work from the late 1880s, right about when this place first became a state. There is also some (but, mercifully, relatively little) more contemporary graffiti.
After walking the two sides of the road, I also admired the quiet solitude of the sagebrush around me. And I wondered where the dinosaur tracks would be.
Turns out they (or at least, some of them) are near another, signed stopping point, maybe one mile east of the petroglyphs. Not only is the general area marked, but they also have these metal dinosaur-shaped markers, right next to where the imprints can be found. That's very helpful for stupid people, like me.
I walked along the base of the sandstone, checked out the blocks, but was pretty sure I did not see any imprints that were not already marked, and wasn't even sure about some that were marked!
Walked the area and on up a bit on the cliffs, looking for more imprints. They're natural casts, formed when the dinosaurs walked over silt, left imprints that later filled with sand and pebbles, which were then compressed to form sandstone casts of the dinosaur imprints. Very cool.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hike 2015.033 -- Huntington Library and Gardens, San Marino, CA

Hiked Friday, July 15. 3 miles. Just a short walk, which I've done many times before, so I can just do a quick note here to say that the lotus were seriously in bloom in mid-July. Can't say if they're still in bloom, but they can be quite photogenic.

Numerous hikes over the past few weeks, which I still hope to blog. Got the pictures uploaded to my computer, anyway. Now I need to select and resize them, and write them up.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hike 2016.022 -- Mouth of Mill Creek Canyon and Oak Glen

Hiked Friday, May 6. Call it six miles for the day. This one is over two months ago. Several hikes since then, but haven't had time to get the photos resized, selected, and uploaded, never mind actually writing the hike up. Also, there was a streak where it seemed like every time I tried posting from home, my stupid computer started downloading updates, running security scans, or otherwise moving at an astonishingly slow rate. This morning, I'm sitting at a Toyota dealership, waiting for my car to be serviced, so I'm using their computer. I've actually written several posts from this computer over the past few years. They have a fancy coffee maker with complementary coffee. Still going to keep it short, to try to finish this today.
These were from a wonderfully overcast, slightly drizzly day, which seems to be the best time to visit Oak Glen, anyway. I seem to manage a lot of hikes there under such conditions.
I don't recall what my original plan might have been. I'm sure I planned some sort of hike before heading up to Oak Glen, just to get some extra steps in. Could have been I just needed to use the restroom as I drove by the Forest Service visitor center at the mouth of Mill Creek. Or it's possible I saw the fading yellow blossoms of many, many flowers. What ever it was, I stopped at the VC, and walked across the highway.
Trivia time: It's called Mill Creek Canyon because this was the site of the first saw mill in the San Bernardino Mountains.

At the opening of most canyons coming out of the local mountains, you'll find plenty of evidence of occasional, torrential floods. Lots of big boulders, piled upon sandy or gravelly alluvial fans. This one was no exception. Still quite a lot of wildflowers, even though it was already getting late in the season. The yellow flowers that had attracted my attention, however, were past peak. I'll have to try coming back here some time in mid-April.
This makes the soil pretty porous, and I think a lot of wildflowers and cactus like the fast-draining, yet frequently inundated soil.
Some flowers were pretty common, including the past-peak yellow flowers, the beaver tail, fillaree, Canterbury bell, and blue dicks.
On the other hand, there were some flowers I saw at only one point in my Mill Creek Hike. I only saw one set of lupine, for example.
And I only saw one patch of blue larkspur.
And one set of mariposa lily.
I walked in a drizzle for part of the way. The sky was dark and looked to threaten a downpour. Maybe that made things more exciting, just thinking I might have to make a dash back to the car. But the rain never opened up.
Got some nice, dramatic shots of the gathering storm.

Returned to the car after wandering maybe 1 1/2 miles or so, all around the flood plain. Then got back to the car, and drove on up to Oak Glen.
If you search through my blog, you'll find many visits to Oak Glen. I love their massive apple pies. The addition and repeated expansions of the Wildlands Conservancy trails at Oak Glen Preserve just make the trip a better bonus.
Many flowers in their more manicured gardens, including that columbine, back up a shot. Some apple trees right near the trail, too, so I took a shot of some apple blossoms. I'll be back in the fall to eat the result of those blossoms. ;D
There are up to two ponds in their upper preserve area, adjacent to their farm. The one pictured here and in the next shot are the upper pond. It's a seasonal, vernal pool. Fills with the rains, then turns to a meadow by late spring.
On this day, recent rains had the pool full, and waterfowl were taking advantage of the water feature.
After looping around the upper and lower ponds (looks like I didn't upload any shots of the lower pond here, but I've pictured it many times, before. Guess when I was reviewing this day's shots, I determined that nothing I had was better than other shots I've posted of it, before.

Heading south from the lower pond, the wide trail takes you under some impressive oak boughs, which I also photograph pretty much every time I go by.
The one thing you don't get to do on a drizzly day is walk the boardwalk. So I just went down this "stream" trail, and I think I just went to the bottom, then retraced my steps back up. Don't think I detoured up the more easterly trail, that runs through a developed park. Some shots from that park are in this post, from a fall trip.

Here's what some of those same places look like without clouds.

See what I mean? It's nice on a clear day, but it's magical with some clouds.
Oak Glen, in winter, here.

Late spring, here.
And, a few weeks earlier, here.
Okay, that's it for now. Hoping to catch up on my posts, although, obviously, I've been saying that for years!