Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hike 2015.022 -- Vasquez Rocks

Hiked Saturday, March 28. I've done five other hikes since this one, and only managed to blog about two of them. Even when I have time to relax at home, it seems like I never have the time to do a lot of things I should be doing. For example, if you want to see something really disgusting, come see my carpet, which really needs a vacuum!
Happily, I have managed to keep a nice pace on my hiking, if not my hike blogging. I took my 27th hike of the year on Monday, and may manage a 28th hike before I finishing writing this blot entry.

Somewhat astonishingly, it's been over five years since my last blogged visit to Vasquez Rocks. I phrase it that way because I'm thinking I must surely have come here with my wife the one time, though I'm not sure if it was before or after my hiking visit. I definitely didn't hike blog it then, so my last digital evidence of a visit was back in March 2010.
This would have been somewhat early in my original 100 hike year. It was the 30th hike of that year, so obviously I got a really good start on that mission.

This year, it was only my 22nd, despite being about three weeks later on the calendar.
Of course, back then, I was unemploy-ed, so I had a lot more time for hiking; now, I work between 54-62 hours a week, and sometimes more, plus my astronomy outreach volunteer events. I did astronomy outreach back then, and I spent a lot of time applying for jobs, but I still had a lot more free time then I do now.
I had initially hoped to re-trace my path of the original hike, but I got a late start, and I had to get back somewhat early because I had to work a night shift at the Observatory. So I ended up just making it a a mile or so south of the Antelope Valley Freeway (CA-14). I then got semi-lost on my way back.

"Semi-lost" means I didn't know the shortest way back to my car, but I knew I could get back to my original trail if I wanted to. But I didn't want to backtrack and I hoped to find a more direct way back.

So the end result is, I got from the "Famous Rocks" (I think that's the actual phrase they use to describe the main sandstone structure, which has co-stared in many tv and movie scenes), south and west, along a canyon, then under the freeway via a tunnel, and then further south, then east, eventually rising somewhat above the freeway's south end.

Along the way, I passed a fair amount of wildflowers. Goldfields carpeted a few areas near the famous rocks. Spent goldfields were also common.
Before I dropped down to creek level, there were a few patches of California poppy. Blue dicks and Canterbury Bells were common.

The yellow mariposa poppy was just at a few spots, and the morning glory were also somewhat isolated. Lupine were still coming in.

It was a fair wildflower exhibit, though probably not as nice as it might have been the week before.

And, in fact, "the week before" was part of why I was here, this week. As I headed towards the Antelope Valley California Poppy State Natural Reserve, I had noticed several spots of impressive color in the hills south of the freeway, near Vasquez Rocks.
Yet, as I noted earlier, today there were several areas of spent and past-peak flowers. The bloom for some species appeared to be drawing to an end.

Yet, because of the "famous rocks," a visit to Vasquez Rocks is always scenic, regardless of any wildflower bonus.

So, on my return leg, rather than completely retracing my steps, I decided I'd loop a bit further to the west, following a well-defined trail, that later split.
Perhaps in error, I took the split that headed up a ridge. I assumed it would soon drop back down and rejoin the other trail, which I'm not sure if I ever saw, again.

So, instead, I walked on a ridge, with a ravine separating me from the route I had taken out. And I began to worry that I might get "stranded, and have to backtrack.
This trail seemed to keep me quite far from the "famous rocks." I seemed to be led well to their west. Then my trail dropped somewhat quickly to the west and north of the rocks. And the trail split repeatedly, again.

Soon, I could no longer be sure if I was on an actual trail or a use trail.

Then I passed a rusted sign saying entry was prohibited, as this was a wildlife refuge.

However, the sign was well-rusted, and many footprints had clearly preceded my arrival. I concluded this must be an obsolete sign, and continued trying to find my way back to my car.
Well, obviously I did get back. But it took longer than I had planned. I still made it to work, and even had time to shower (which, of course, would not be an option, time-permitting or not). But I didn't have as much time to eat lunch or take a nap as I had intended. This made for a long night at work
But, as I often say and always mean, even a lousy hike can give you a relaxed feeling, at least in retrospect. My 30 minutes of uncertainty as to if I'd be able to get back to my car in time receded quickly, and I was left with the memories and photographs of my hike. I was happy to have come, and convinced that I should come here more frequently in the future.

The last shot I took before I packed the camera away and focused on getting back is the last picture in this post. It was of an impressive mountain that overlooks Agua Dulce. I was on one of those ridges, before the drop, and before I was worried about finding my car without a time-consuming backtrack
I'm going to estimate five miles for the day. It felt like more, but it always feels longer when you're running late, then getting hungry, and just wanting to get back to your car.
But it occurs to me that this was still not as stressful as last time, when I came within about two minutes of getting locked inside the park after closing!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had a fantastic hike. Vasquez is one of my very places to hike and take photographs. I go there often.