Saturday, February 22, 2014
I had hiked here just about one year ago. Additional details on finding the trail head and the hike can be found there.
I enjoyed that hike. Wished I had a longer telephoto lens on it, though. The overlook down to the Colorado River, you're probably 1200 or 1600 feet above the water. So, this time around, I had a 500mm Tamron catadioptric telephoto lens to play with, and this seemed like the perfect place to try it out.
The Tamron is actually an old lens to me. I've owned it since either the late 1980s or early 1990s. It was mated to an "adaptall" Canon FD base, and I used it with my old 35mm film cameras.
But then I came across a mention of an adapter to allow Tamron Adaptall mounts to attach to Nikon autofocus cameras. The resulting mating will not allow autofocus, or even metering or aperature priority shooting. Still, for about $20, I could regain the use of a very long telephoto lens. So I bought an adapter about two weeks ago, and got to try out the contraption on this trip. You've already seen the Kelso Dunes shots. Here are some along the Colorado River.
The first one is from the trail before you've go get nearest the arch. You're looking sort of southerly with that one, so you have the arch is in its own shade. Kind of like the detail you can see, what with the various large chunks of rock looking like they're about to tumble right off.
On the trail, after passing the arch, you've got a few switchbacks before you reach the crest of this rise, and then venture on to a nice flat area with views down and across the Colorado River.
The next shots start up somewhat later, after I've already gotten back to the White Rock Canyon, and am now heading down the canyon. The volcanic walls are tall, and the canyon is sometimes quite narrow. I've got one shot of a group heading back up the canyon, to give some idea of the scale of these walls.
Pretty substantial loss and then gain of altitude on the way down to the river, and even more so if you headed up to the Colorado River overlook after Liberty Bell Arch.
At the river, I saw that a Boy Scout troop had decided to make their camp at the mouth of White Rock Canyon.
It's a pretty consistent flow of boats going downstream. I assume the canoes and kayaks get towed back up the river by some sort of motorboat. Otherwise, it would take some pretty serious paddling to make it back up to the put-in point.
Monday, February 17, 2014
I hiked here once before, at the end of 2011. Been thinking about stopping here on the way from a Las Vegas run one of these days. Finally did it this weekend.
Bonita Falls is a dramatic, beautiful waterfall. It's also highly accessible--a short 2 mile roundtrip after a short, ten minute drive from I-15.
That accessibility is a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, a lot stupid people with no appreciation for nature or consideration for anyone other than themselves have spray painted rocks, logs, and cliffs with a wide variety of stupidity.
Interestingly, some descriptions of this hike describe two "treacherous" stream crossings on this hike. In real-life, there's no need to make any significant stream crossings. Cross Lytle Creek at the bridge that heads into Green Mountain Ranch. (BTW, they apparently are a destination for mountainesque weddings). Don't actually enter Green Mountain Ranch, especially with your car. Instead, after crossing the bridge, bear right at the boundary fence, and stay outside the private inholding.
At the first reasonable trail on your left (about 1/2 after turning up the canyon), head up the incline. It's no more than 1/4 mile up the canyon to Bonita Falls. Most of the time, there's no water coming out of this canyon. It all seems below ground higher up the hill, and makes its way underground to Lytle Creek. No stream crossings are usually required to get to this waterfall, at least not until you're basically at the falls.
And it certainly is a big falls. For some perspective, note that the second picture on this post is a crop of the first picture. It's made larger so you can see the guy standing up near the edge of the falls. He's barely visible in the full-frame version.
Less than two miles for the day. Short hike, but a nice interruption to the long drive across the Mojave.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Unfortunately, with a relatively late start and the longer drive from the LA area versus from the Las Vegas area, the strong shadow at the dune crest was gone by the time I got there.
It was also hotter than expected: mid-70s on up to low-80s. That's a little crazy for mid-February.
3 miles for the day. I'm well behind my blogging, now. I'm up to 9 hikes for the year, and have blogged only three of them. And one of them was hiked twice! Got some catching up to do.
Monday, February 3, 2014
The Kelso Dunes trail-head is about 8 miles south of Kelso Depot, where the main visitor center for Mojave National Preserve is located. From paved Kelbaker Road, it's three miles on a gravel road (generally suitable for passenger cars) to the parking area. A vault toilet and interpretive signs are at the trailhead.
Once you leave the parking area, the initial part of the trail is well-defined. However, soon there is no formal trail, as you're going over sand, which blows across the footprints each night. The highest dunes are allegedly 600 feet tall. I'm not sure where they're measuring that from. I suppose the total altitude gain from the trailhead may be close to that, but you're not 600 feet above the area immediately around the dunes.
The third photo was taken nearest the start of the hike, with a well-defined trail. The first was near the top of the tallest dune, looking towards the Providence Mountains. The second was on the way back, on the flatter area. Lots of various creature tracks along the way, at least where they weren't obliterated by footprints.