Friday

2015 - The Year In Review


Allow me start my saying thank you to all who have taken the time over this past several years for showing your appreciation of my efforts to share our hikes, either by offering your personal praise or by providing email thanks. Currently I have over 115 persons on a regular email list for postings. Total to date there have been over 197,907 page views of this site. It also pleases me to know that many of you are sharing your hiking experiences with family members and friends. Knowing this gives me a feeling that my efforts are worthwhile. My sincere thanks to all!


At the end of each year, I review all of the year's posts, selecting what I feel are the better pictures worth sharing again. For display purposes, I then group them into 11 basic categories: 01-Desert Landscapes, 02-Desert Foliage, 03-Desert Wildlife, 04-Rock Art, 05-Nevada Mines, 06-Trees & Wood Textures, 07-Desert Fossils Remamins, 08-Rocks & Formations, 09-Desert Water, 10-Mountain Landscapes, 11-People & Faces.

So this page will load faster, I have chosen to display a picture collage for each category to peak interest. To view additional pictures for any category, click on the link below the featured picture collage.  On the new page I have provided a link that will take you to the specific daytrip/hiking post showing where the picture was taken. As a result, this year-end summary is a compilation of more than 125 photos that will take you on a virtual tour of more than 40 of the hikes I have taken in 2015. I hope you enjoy.


01-Desert Landscapes: I often stand in awe of the many diverse landscapes and geological formations that can be found throughout the state of Nevada. It seems that every area I visit has its own unique characteristics that make it special. Trying to capture the essence of an area in a landscape photo can often be quite challenging, however, when successful, also quite rewarding. The pictures in this category have been gathered from locations ranging from Utah to California's Death Valley.
                           
Click here to view 13 Desert Landscape pictures and hikes ... 
01-Desert Landscapes.



02-Desert Foliage: Though it is not always easy, and not always successful, I always make an effort on each of my hikes to find some, whether it be in the form of rock formations, trees, cactus, plants or flowers to “spruce up” the photo essays that I create and post for each hike/location. In the harsh environment of the dry and arid Nevada desert, especially after a prolonged drought, it is a wonder one can even find anything growing at all, let alone things that offer such a variety of beautiful color. This being the twelfth year of a prolonged drought, I found that it was getting much harder to find many of the plants and wildflowers that I was able to capture in past years, including many cacti. This year I encountered many drought tolerant cacti that were even showing the last signs of holding on. However, when found, these flowering plants are a thing to behold. Hopefully, we will get a season of some much needed rain soon and bring the desert back to what is once was.
                         
Click here to view 15 Desert Foliage pictures and hikes ... 
02-Desert Foliage



03-Desert Wildlife: Over the course of the year, my hikes take me anywhere from the low desert and its alluvial plains to high mountain ridges and plateaus. Each of these areas provides its own unique opportunities to spot wildlife indigenous to the area. The problem is trying to capture some of them. First, there is the fact that because most of my hikes are with a group, there is often more noise than I would like. Next there is the matter of having the camera ready when an opportunity presents itself. Finally there is the subject itself. Many of these animals and insects are quite skittish when it comes to humans, and quite speedy. Over the course of the year I've spotted many forms of wildlife, such as foxes, coyotes, long-eared jackrabbits, numerous birds, etc., that are just “gone” before I even get the chance to focus on them. Then there are the typical problems of not having enough lighting, too slow of a lens, lack of a tripod, etc. all which often lead to poor photo quality. Even when I am lucky enough to get off a shot, it is often too blurry or out of focus. So, when I do get pictures, such as the those in this section, I consider myself quite lucky.
                           
Click here to view 15 Desert Wildlife pictures and hikes ... 
03-Desert Wildlife



04-Desert Rock Art: Many of the sights that I have visited are actually noted for providing the opportunity to view desert rock art, in the form of petroglyphs and pictographs, that have been left behind by native inhabitant's hundreds if not thousands of years ago. Quite often many of these ancient etchings have been worn or deteriorated due to the natural weathering and aging processes, and sometimes even defaced by persons who have no idea of their historical significance. Though most of the ancient etchings appear cryptic and quite confusing; there are also many times when they offer recognizable figures that appear to be trying to tell a story. I find them all quite fascinating. In addition to finding new sites each year, the revisiting of previous sites almost always produce new pictures of symbols that may have be missed on a previous. Because I usually have so many pictures for each of these visited sites, I have chosen only a few selected pictures to be representative for each of the sites I visited this year.
                   
Click here to view 11 Desert Rock Art pictures and hikes ... 
04-Desert Rock Art



05-Nevada’s Mines: Still today, the state of Nevada is the largest producer of gold in the country. At times over the last 150 years, it was also the largest producer of lead, zinc and silver, leaving literally hundreds of deserted and abandoned mine shafts and audits scattered all over its many mountain ranges. As many of these locations require 4WD access, I have explored most of them with my friend, Harvey Smith. Though we often find what appear to be the small diggings by individual prospectors, many of the locations we have visited were actual mining towns or processing sites that supported upwards of 2,000 people in their heyday. Over the years, many of these mines/sites produced hundreds of million of dollars worth of gold and silver. Some times these mines are fenced or “barred”, preventing entry due to unsafe conditions. For the ones that are open, and knowing the potential dangers, we always try to limit exploration to within only a few feet of their entrances. Exploring these sites and trying to understand the living conditions and hardships of the prospectors and miners that created them, can be an interesting journey into the past.
                               
Click here to view 08 pictures of Nevada Mines and hikes ... 
05-Nevada Mines

06-Trees and Wood Textures: For some reason I just love capturing the shapes, textures and patterns found in trees, bark, roots, stumps and wood. Not only do their unique textures and patterns offer interesting and visually pleasing subjects, they cause one to relieve their history by letting your mind travel back in time to their origin, which in the case of some bristlecone pines, can be more than 3,000 years old.

Click here to view 11 Trees and Wood Texture pictures and hikes ... 
06-Trees and Wood Textures


07-Desert Fossil Remains: Though the name of the group I hike with is called “the rock-hounds”, my main interest is taking landscape photographs, though it doesn't preclude me from having an interest in the geology of surrounding rock formations and from collecting an occasional rock or two. I especially get excited when I come across rocks that contain evidence of seabed fossils. It amazes that I am able to come across fossils out here in the desert, sometime at elevations that are locations as high as 10,000 feet or more. It seems that each year I seem find several rocks containing fossil specimens of shells and other evidence of the ancient seabed that once covered this entire area.
                         
Click here to view 08 pictures of Desert Fossil Remains and hikes ... 
Desert Fossil Remains

08-Desert Geologic Formations: The desert features a wide variety of rocky outcrops and bedrock that provide a puzzle maze of unique rock formations, colors and shapes that can be amazing. The desert or semi-desert regions have unique geologic features not found in more humid environments. These features are most often caused by wind and water erosion in the stark desert environment. Laypeople as myself refer informally to outcroppings of rock or interesting geological features as geological formations, even though this is not technically correct. Arches are arch-shaped landforms produced by weathering and differential erosion. Natural bridges are a naturally created arch formations resembling a bridge. Most occur in massive, horizontally bedded sandstone or limestone. Geologically, a formation is a natural body of earth, such as an outcrop or deposit with distinctive and characteristic properties. I am always looking for rock formations, created by the natural erosion, that represent recognizable shapes. I am constantly amazed at the many unique geological rock formations that I come across during my hikes. The palette of colors that the desert geology provides can be stunning.




Click here to view 09 pictures of Desert Geologic Formations and hikes ... 
Desert Geologic Formations


09-Desert Water: As I’m sure many of you are aware, we are entering our 12th year of a long-term drought, making it harder and harder to find evidence of water in the lower desert and plateau areas. This has also had a devastating effect on animal and plant life. The Las Vegas area only receives an average of 4.19 inches per year, which is 89% less than the average nationwide, and 54% less than the average in Nevada. Even though the late summer/early fall monsoons can bring up to nearly three inches of rain, because everything is so hard and dry, it quickly runs off, having very little long term effect. To give you a better idea of how severe this drought has been, the water level at Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country, is the lowest it’s ever been. It is now only about 37 percent full, down 155.29 feet below full pool, and the water level is expected to keep dropping over the next month or so. One of my hiking partners jokes about the fact that, if there is water to be found on a hike, I can find it. Though some of the places we visit are known for their “natural springs”, there seems to be less and less water visible each time we visit. Many of the washes we hike that used to provide signs of water almost year-round are now dry most of the year, only showing signs of water in the early spring months or the day after a heavy rainfall.
                               
Click here to view 08 Desert Water pictures and hikes ... 
09 Desert Water


10-Mountain Views & Landscapes: Most people don’t realize that Nevada is the most mountainous state in the U.S., with over 150 (named) individual mountain ranges. Over 30 of Nevada's mountain peaks exceed 11,000 ft., with the highest point (Boundary Peak), reaching 13,140 ft. The Great Basin - a series of depressions, flats, dry lakes, marshy salt pans and sinks, all scattered between ribbons of mountain ranges - stretches across much of the state. Low mountain desert areas (formerly prehistoric lakes) are situated northeast of Carson City. The Mojave Desert spills across the California border into southern Nevada, where conditions here are dry, hot and windy, especially in summer. The desert floor areas surrounding the Las Vegas valley are bordered by dozens of volcanic, granite, and Aztec sandstone, copper-colored mountains and ranges, highlighted by Red Rock Canyon's bluffs, cliffs and petrified sandstone boulders. These many mountains and canyons provide some of the best hiking and rock climbing areas in the entire United States. For visitors that have not experienced the Red Rock National Conservation Area and the Mount Charleston Wilderness Areas, they don't know what they are missing.
                            
Click here to view 15 Mountain Views and Landscape pictures and hikes ... 
10-Mountain Views and Landscapes


11-People and Faces: Over the past few years I have concentrated on taking nature photos of plants and animals as well as landscapes. After reading an article on portrait photography, I decided to make a conscious effort to capture more pictures that included people to see if they might somehow make some of my pictures more interesting. Because I most often hike with the same people, or alone, my opportunities are still somewhat limited. Here are a few that I managed to capture that have encouraged me to continue trying.
                        


Click here to view 12 pictures of some people I have hiked with this year ... 
11-People & Faces