Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hiked 2014.048 -- La Madre Springs, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Hiked Saturday, August 30. Shorter hike than I wanted today. I didn't realize I had forgotten my sun block until I was on the trail, and didn't want to risk getting too burned.

Latest hike as of today, with several more still needing to be blogged.

Red Rock National Conservation Area is just west of Las Vegas. Of course, I've done a number of hikes in Red Rock the past few years: Turtlehead Peak. And Calico Tanks. Twice. Also Icebox Canyon. Also twice.
Also, the Calico Hills. That's all in addition to my pre-blog hiking; I lived in Las Vegas for seven years, so I probably hiked most of the trails in the park at one time or another, though definitely not with the sort of regularity I would have had after the hiking blog.

As an added incentive to hike in Red Rock, my America the Beautiful pass expires at the end of September, so I'm still trying to get my money's worth. I may even try to squeeze a trip to Bryce Canyon or Zion in this month. But probably not. They're long drives, and I also want to go to Great Basin National Park in September. This might be too much driving in a month.

But if not September, then maybe Zion in October. I'm hoping to catch the leave changing.

Given my previous time in Las Vegas, I probably hiked here before, but I don't have a strong recollection of being here. The vegetation was surprisingly thick, given the relatively low altitude of here versus up around Mount Charleston. Water clearly runs through the limestone and off the sandstone and settles some on the valley between these two structures.
There's also the occasional tree fighting to survive in the sandstone crags, and the trees that fail to survive elsewhere in the valley.

It's been a pretty good monsoon season, so even before I got to Las Vegas, I noticed the more greenery along the highway than one would expect, given the 105 degree temperatures. Fall wildflowers were not blooming as thickly as I had seen them last year, but there were definitely a lot of flowers blooming.

I didn't recognize their species, however. With the exception of the desert mallow, they were just "white flowers" and "yellow flowers."
They were only modestly thicker around the actual spring than they were elsewhere along the trail. The one that looks somewhat like Indian Paintbrush was practically hanging over the small pool the spring flowed in to.
You can see the spring in the background.

Meanwhile, the little white guys seem to have an interesting life cycle. After looking like little white flowers, at some point they turn into those stringy things you see below.
If there weren't some plants with both types of flowers on them, it would have been harder to realize they were the same species.
I began my hike at the Willow Springs Picnic area, which is off the 13-mile scenic loop. From the picnic area, I headed northwest, along the Rocky Gap 4x4 road. Had I my sunblock, I might likely have just headed on up there and to the top of the escarpment. But, having forgotten it (and not realized this until I was well on the rail), I knew I wanted to cut it short. So I turned at the sign indicating the way to La Madre Spring, which it said was about 1.1 miles from the spring.
Total distance for the La Madre Spring hike is given as 3.3 miles, though it did seem a bit further than that. The only significant climb I noticed was the last bit, as you climb past a couple of concrete pads and on up to the ravine where the spring resides.

I returned the way I came.

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