Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Hike 2012.070 -- Barber Peak Loop, Mojave National Preserve
Saturday was our semi-annual Mojave National Preserve Conservancy star party. We had a clear, slightly cool, and windless night--pretty darn perfect conditions. I had moderate success with my relatively new Meade LX80 mount. I may post more about that in my sidewalk astronomy blog.
I hiked that last April. Before breakfast, I also set up my solar telescope tandem for folks to get a peek at the sun before heading off for home. It was the same set up I used at Cedar City earlier in the year, and for the Venus Transit I watched from La Canada in June.
The Barber Peak Loop trail is probably a bit longer this way than if I had done it the right way, though it's the same way I did this hike the other time I walked it, almost two years ago.
At the north end of the camp-ground, there's a trailhead marker. The trail heads straight on north, then bends to the west, climbing towards the cliffs. It appears Barber Peak is a part of this mesa. Or perhaps it's the whole mesa. Unfortunately, I don't have a map that actually identifies the peak.
Looking to the east, the sun cast layered shadows on the mesa walls in the distance. As I rounded towards the west, I looked east, and saw a back lit beaver tail cactus
The trail then heads west, then southwest. As you start heading southwest, you begin crossing what was once a dense pinyon pine-juniper forest. Regrettably, it, like the forest on Table Top Mountain, was burned a number of years ago. It actually looked a lot nicer now than it did two years ago, though.
Making my way to the south, I passed a pair of cows. I could swear these were the same cows I saw 18 months ago.
Near the end of the southerly part of the trail, you pass near the Opalite Cliffs, an impressive outcropping of white and brown. They look clayish, though they could also be made of the same cemented ash that the other white outcroppings in the area are made of. I didn't immediately run across any quick on-line description of what they're made of.
Instead, I stayed on the signed trail. It climbed (as I knew it would) up towards a gate. This incline is the start of a section of very thick cholla and barrel cactus growth. The portion of the trail immediately before here also had several burned skeletons of cholla.
From the gate (intended to keep cattle on their designated allotment), it's mostly downhill towards Hole in the Wall. Expansive views to the south are also there to be enjoyed.
Also in this little slot canyon segment, I saw a whiptail lizard. It wasn't the first lizard I saw this day, but it was the only one that stuck around to be photographed.
By the time I was inside this slot canyon and heading up the rings, I was tired and ready to go home. Didn't take any pictures after the lizard. Shoulda worn a hat. Pictures of that section of trail are in my previous blog of this hike, linked above, and here.