Sunday

Site Introduction

Welcome to my Photo Gallery. With more than 1,405 posts and counting, many containing multiple pictures, I estimate that there are now more than 6,100 pictures on a wide variety of subjects scattered throughout the site that have received more than 290,226 page views. Because most of the pictures shown here have been captured while hiking areas in and around Las Vegas, the site has somewhat evolved into more of a hiking journal; listing and describing the places I have visited. There are five ways to find information on the site. [1] To locate a page on a specific place or subject, use the SEARCH THIS BLOG box located in the upper left side of the home page. For additional ways to locate specific pages ... {click "Read more >>" below}

Saturday

Recently Added Pages

Click here to see a list of site maintenance actions ... Notes on Recent Site Maintenance

September 2017 Posts (by Category & Title
NEW - Grand Canyon South - Grand Canyon National Park-South Rim
NEW - Grand Canyon South - Grand Canyon Railway
UPDATED - Valley of Fire - Valley of Fire State Park - Summary Page
NEW - Butterflies & Insects - Tarantula Hawk Wasp (Pepsis species)

NEW - Valley of Fire - Natural Arches Trail VOF - Trip Notes for 09/08/2017
UPDATED - Cactus - Mojave Kingcup Cactus (Echinocereus mojavensis)

August 2017 Posts (by Category & Title
NEW - Kingman AZ - Monolith Garden Lasso Loop Trail - Arizona
UPDATED - Grand Canyon North Rim - Grand Canyon National Park - North Rim
UPDATED - Sunset Crater Volcano - Sunset Crater Volcano National Park
NEW - Wupatki National Monument - Wupatki National Monument
UPDATED - Nipton - Nipton California

NEW - Waterfowl & Fish - Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)
NEW - LV Places of Interest - Morning Walk at Clark County Wetlands
UPDATED - Polyptych - Index for Polyptychs
NEW - Pareidolia Pictures - Category for Pareidoila Pictures
NEW - Pareidolia - Examples of Pareidolia

NEW - Antelope Canyon - Antelope Canyon - Page, Arizona
                  
Click the "Read more" link below for a quick view a list of the Current Year-to-Date posts ... 
Click here to view an index of ALL HIKES Listed by Previous Year and Month ...                            Click here to view an index of ALL HIKES by location: Daytrips & Hike Index

Note: Every attempt is made to provide accurate information on the posts made on this site, but occasionally depictions may be inaccurate due to error of available information at the time of posting, mapping, navigation or cataloging. The information on this site is provided without any warranty, express or implied, and is indended for informational and historical purposes only.

If you have any comments regarding any of these postings, or if you would like to be placed on my mailing list, click here for contact information ... Contact Me.

Friday

RoadTrip - Grand Canyon - South Rim

Click to Enlarge
At the beginning of March in 2009, we took a trip to the South rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. First we drove to Williams, Arizona, we upon we boarded the Grand Canyon Railway for the 65 mile trip to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. A recent review of my site revealed to me that I had never taken the time create a page to provide a description and pictures the park. The link that follows is the result of a recently posted page to cover this unique journey ... Grand Canyon National Park - South Rim.

Thursday

RoadTrip - Grand Canyon Railway

Click to Enlarge
At the beginning of March in 2009, we took a trip to the South rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. After driving to Williams, Arizona, we took the Grand Canyon Railway that travels 65 miles to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. A recent review of my site revealed to me that I had never taken the time created a page to showcase the pictures of this momentous occasion. The link that follows is the result of a recently posted page to cover this unique journey ... Grand Canyon Railway.

Sunday

Dayrip - Natural Arches Hike in Valley of Fire

Click to Enlarge
On 09.08/2017, Bob Croke, Jim Herring and I drove to the Valley of Fire State Park to hike the Natural Arches Trail. Even though it was pouring when we left Las Vegas, the skies somewhat cleared by the time we got to the park. Once we reached the trailhead, we began the "trudge" up the very sandy wash. Even though this hike is called the Natural Arches Trail, it is actually the Fire Canyon Wash. The hike up this wash as time went on, the sky began to become less threatening and even had some areas of blue sky. By the time we finished this 6 mile hike we were all very tired from walking in the soft sand. On the return we actually spotted three desert bighorn sheep. Click here for pictures and a description of this hike ... Natural Arches Trail VOF - Trip Notes for 09/08/2017.

Tuesday

Roadtrip - Wupatki National Monument

Click to enlarge
Located less than an hour north of Flagstaff Arizona, Wupatki National Monument preserves dozens of ancestral Puebloan villages. The many settlement sites scattered throughout the monument were built by the Ancient Pueblo People, more specifically the Cohonina, Kayenta Anasazi, and Sinagua. There are more than 800 identified ruins spread around many miles of desert within Wupatki National Monument, the five largest being, Wupatki, Wukoki, Lomaki, Citadel and Nalakihu. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki, which means "Tall House" in the Hopi language, is a multistory Sinagua pueblo dwelling comprising over 100 rooms and a community room and ball court, making it the largest building for nearly 50 miles. Click here for pictures and information ... Wupatki National Monument.

Saturday

Daytrip - Monolith Garden Lasso Loop Trail, AZ

Click to Enlarge
On 08/18/2017, Harvey Smith and I got up at 5:00 am and headed to Kingman. At an elevation of nearly 3,800 feet, it was 10-12 degrees cooler than in Henderson. We turned off of US 93 and parked in the parking area of the Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area and trailhead of the Monolith Gardens Trails. There is a beautiful network of trails encompassing miles of biking and hiking trails that weave throughout this recreation area. The most well known trail is the 1.7 mile Monolith Garden Lasso Loop Trail, a fantastic maze of towering rock formations. It has a rolling landscape of low hills, stacked rock towers and hunched ridgeline columns. Click this link to view pictures and a description of this hike ... Monolith Garden Lasso Loop Trail. 

Tuesday

Daytrip - Clark County Wetlands Preserve

Click to Enlarge
On 08/05, Blake Smith and I got up bright and early and around around 5:30 am we headed over to the Clark County Wetlands Preserve for a morning walk. Even though it was partially overcast after a night of rain, it was very muggy. I forgot to bring my map and we ended up getting 'lost' among the maze of paths and trails. Click here for pictures and description of this morning walk ... Morning Walk at Clark County Wetlands.

Thursday

Daytrip - Antelope Canyon - Page, Arizona

Click to Enlarge
Back in October of 2009, my wife Connie, neighbor Marc Resnic and I took a trip to Antelope Canyon. To get the most out of our visit, we split up; Connie and Marc toured the 'upper' canyon and I toured the more difficult 'lower' canyon. While the Navajo call this canyon "the place where water runs through rocks," most tourists come to know the upper section as the Crack, and the lower as the Corkscrew. During a discussion with several hikers at a breakfast in June with the Henderson Rockhounds, I later realized that I had never created a dedicated blog page for this trip. Hence, the following new page that includes 20 of the better pictures taken at Antelope Canyon. Click here for a page link with a description and pictures ... Antelope Canyon - Page, Arizona.

Tuesday

Monolith Garden Lasso Loop Trail, AZ

{Click on an image to enlarge, then use the back button to return to this page}
This page last updated on 08/20/2017

(Fig. 01) View from the Trailhead






(Fig. 02)


Directions: Take US 93 south to Kingman, AZ  It is approximately 87 miles from Henderson to the turn off to the Monolith Garden Loop Trailhead on the right as US-93 turns into West Beale Street, about 2 miles before I-40.

Area DescriptionJust north of Kingman, Arizona is a beautiful desert landscape, a joint venture created by the City of Kingman, the BLM, and the Arizona State Trail System.  The 5,620 acres of BLM land is now known collectively as the Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area. Established in 1995, it is jointly administered by the City of Kingman and the BLM. This area is located in the Mohave desert, and vegetation is primarily scrub, with some grassland. Natural water sources are seasonal only, and typically dry. You will find Beavertail cactus, wild rhubarb, and Arizona lupine, and many others. It’s also home to many types of wildlife, from desert tortoises and foxes to Gambel’s quail and rattlesnakes. There is a beautiful network of trails encompassing miles of biking and hiking trails that weave throughout this recreation area. The most well known trail is the 1.7 mile Monolith Garden Lasso Loop Trail (refer to map in Fig. 02) is a fantastic maze of towering rock formations. It has a rolling landscape of low hills, stacked rock towers and hunched ridgeline columns. Running through dramatic boulder fields and crumbling ramparts of volcanic ash, the views are amazing. It is hard to stop taking pictures of the rocks, flowers, mesas, buttes, and ever changing colors of the area.


08/18/2017 Hiking Notes: Today, Harvey Smith and I got up at 5:00 am and headed to Kingman. At an elevation of nearly 3,800 feet, it was 10-12 degrees cooler than in Henderson. We turned off of US 93 and parked in the parking area of the Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area and trailhead of the Monolith Gardens Trails (refer to map in (Fig. 02). The trailhead has a restroom but no water available. Starting in a westerly direction head towards the mountain on the old access road. Climbing down from the parking area you end up directly in front of a large monolith structure with what appears to be the opening of a mine (Fig. 03). Upon closer inspection, it turns out to only go in for about 8-10 feet. Just to the right of this opening the trail begins to wrap around this high outcrop (Fig. 04). As you hike around it, the view in (Fig. 05) is of the back side. Directly behind this monolith is an intersection that is actually the beginning and end of the Monolith Garden Lasso Loop. We chose to go left, starting the loop in a clockwise direction.  As you hike along you are constantly confronted with a variety of  towering rock formations all around you (Figs. 06 & 07). The scenery is straight out of an old western movie. As we hiked along the trails in this we were amazed at how green the desert floor present dozens of cacti and wild flowers like those seen in the collage in (Fig. 08). Arriving at the next intersection there is a bench if you wish to relax and take it all in. It you proceed to the right for a quarter mile, you come to another intersection appears. If you continue to keep taking right turns you will end up back to where you started, completing the 1.8 mile Lasso Loop. We chose to go left, allowing us to hike a yet another larger "loop" (see Fig. 02) This allowed up to "get up to and personal with many more of these beautiful monoliths (Figs. 09, & 10). (Notes con't below).
                                                         
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)

Hiking Notes Continued: Finally we turned west and hiked across an open area and headed back towards the Lasso Loop trail. After passing some more unique structures (Figs. 11 & 12), we came across meadow filled with a blanket of yellow ground cover (Figs. 13 & 14). There were so many bees sucking nectar off these plants, that their 'buzzing" was extremely loud. Then we noticed hundreds of white-lined sphinx moth caterpillars (Fig. 15) eating these plants as well. We could see and hear many birds as we hike these trails, but our hiking sounds made the instantly scatter, making them almost impossible to capture any pictures (Fig. 16). In the end we hiked a total of 2.75 miles. All in all we both agreed that this was a beautiful area and can't wait until Spring when we would be able to capture many more cacti and plants in full bloom.

(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)
(Fig.  15)
(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
Upon reaching Kingman we stopped for lunch at the famous Mr. D’z Route 66 diner (below) before starting the ride home. Along the way we also visited the town of Chloride [Chloride - Arizona] and the Roy Purcell Murals [Roy Purcell Murals].
                                    
EFP-IMG_5440EFP-IMG_5439


Natural Arches Trail (VOF) - Trip Notes for 09/08/2017


 {Click on an image to enlarge, then use the back button to return to this page}
This page last updated on 09/09/2017

(Fig. 01)


(Fig. 02)












(Fig. 2a)




DirectionsIf you arrive from the east, from the intersection of Route 169 and 167 near Lake Mead, drive west on the Valley of Fire Highway for two miles to the park’s east entrance. Then drive another 1.7 miles to the trailhead for the Natural Arches Trail. If you want to start from The Cabins, drive 2.1 to the entrance road. To reach the park from the west from Las Vegas, take Interstate 15 north for about 35 miles to exit 75 (signs for Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area). At the end of the off-ramp, go southeast on Valley of Fire Highway. After 14.5 miles you reach the park’s west entrance. Drive another 4.8 miles and turn left, following a sign for The Cabins, or approximately 5.5 miles to the Natural Arches Trailhead (see Fig. 2a).

(Fig. 03)
Trail Description:  The parking lot is on the north side of the main park road just west of a large wash between the road to "the cabins" and Elephant Rock. Park in the gravel lot, look for the tiny trailhead marker near the road, and head down into the wash. The total distance for this (in-out) hike is 4.80 miles. The elevation at the trailhead is 1,592 feet. The total net gain in elevation is 229 feet. This trail is not marked anywhere along the way, but it is easy to follow as it just follows the main wash the entire way. Walking on the canyon's soft pink/white sand floor requires a bit more effort, but the lack of significant vertical rise makes up for that. The wide wash narrows considerably after about a mile, and there are three small rock scrambles to navigate.
(Fig. 04)
With each turn of the canyon the shapes and colors of the rock continue to amaze. Keep an eye open for arches, as there are several along the route. The largest arch (Fig. 03 right), for which the trail was named, succumbed to erosion and collapsed several years ago. Unfortunately, the picture in (Fig. 04 right) is a view of all that remains. In spite of this, the main features of this trail remain: extreme solitude and incredible desert beauty. The hiker can turn back anywhere on the route, but there is a huge balancing rock at 2.4 miles that offers shade and a natural turning point.


09/08/2017 Trip Notes: Today Bob Croke, Jim Herring and I drove to the Valley of Fire State Park to hike the Natural Arches Trail. Though our initial plan was to start this hike from The Cabins (see Fig. 02), one of the park's rangers convinced us to use the hikes primary trailhead. At the Natural Arches trailhead (refer to Fig. 02) there are two large culverts that run under the park's main road (Fig. 05). As we started this hike the sky was very grey and filled with threatening rain clouds. From here we began the "trudge" up the very sandy wash. In the beginning the wide sandy wash was filled with a variety of plants, shrubs and trees as seen in (Fig. 06). The further we hiked, the less was the vegetation and the deeper was the sand (Fig. 07). Though hiking in the still quite soft sand, a recent rain had caused the sand to be somewhat packed. As time went on, the sky began to become less threatening and even had some areas of blue sky (Fig. 08). Occasionally we would encounter plants in the middle of the wash (Figs. 09 & 10). (notes con't below)

(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
Trip Notes Continued:  On batch of these plants we filled with dozens Tarantula Hawks (Figs. 11 & 12). Click here to learn more ... Tarantula Hawk Wasp (Pepsis species). The soft sands of the wash caused us to take many stops along the way (Figs. 13 - 15). In some places we encountered areas where we sunk more than six inches into the sand. Even though we never did locate the location where the original arch collapsed several years before, we did observe nearly a half dozen smaller arches along the way (Figs. 16 & 17). Near where we thought the remains of the fallen arch, we found what others have described as a large balancing rock (Fig. 18). All the way up the wash we get encountering what we guessed were foot prints of bighorn sheep that kept   crossing the wash. On the return hike back we finally saw three sheep run across the wash about a hundred yards in front of us. Using our telephoto lenses, we were able to get off a half dozen shots (Figs. 19 & 20). After a very grueling six mile hike, we considered this was the highlight of the hike. (Fig. 21) is a picture of a bee that was also sipping on the flowers where we saw the Tarantula Hawks.

(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18)
(Fig. 19)

(Fig. 20)





(Fig. 21)

Return to the Summary Page ... Valley of Fire State Park - Summary Page.

Tarantula Hawk Wasp (Pepsis species)

(Fig. 01)
Picture Notes: All of the pictures found here were taken along the Natural Arches Trail in the Valley of Fire State Park in Overton, Nevada. The picture in (Fig. 02) was taken by my hiking partner and friend Robert Croke.

(Fig. 02)


Description:  A Tarantula Hawk (Pepsis species) is a spider parasitic wasp that hunts tarantulas. One of the largest of wasps, the Tarantula Hawk Wasp can be up to 2 1/2-inches in length. It is metallic blue-black in color with blue-black or yellow-orange wings edged in black. It has black antennae and long, velvety black legs with hooked claws that can be seen in (Fig. 01). In addition to being strong, fast runners, it can fly low along the ground in search of spiders. Only females can sting – and its stinger can be as long as 1/3 inch. Males are harmless. The tarantula hawk rarely stings unless it is handled or disturbed. The sting of the female Taranula Hawk is considered to be one of the most painful insect stings in the world. Tarantula hawks are a species of spider wasp which are solitary wasps. This means that they tend to live alone, rather than in colonies. Many do not build nests at all, but instead, burrow into the soil or use natural cavities or the burrows of other insects or animals. Tarantula hawk species have been observed from as far north as Logan, Utah, in the United States, the deserts of the southwestern United States, and south as far as Argentina in South America. It is a common desert wasp of the Southwest but can be found anywhere the tarantula is found. It is most active during summer days – however, it does not like extreme heat.

Adults feed on flower nectar, pollen, and the juice of berries and other fruits. The she-wasp uses the tarantula spiders to feed its young. As for the tarantulas, well, they almost never escape. The sting paralyzes the spider nearly instantly, allowing the wasp to drag it into a pre-dug burrow or back to the tarantula’s own den. Here it drops the victim and lays a single egg on it, then leaves and seals the chamber behind it. The egg hatches into a larva, which starts eating the still-paralyzed spider, focusing on non-essential tissues to keep it alive for as long as possible—perhaps weeks. Still, the she-wasp has to be careful, because while she’s pretty darn big, the tarantula can be several times bigger than her. And although tarantulas may be harmless to humans, they have massive fangs that could do a number on the wasp. The wasp go in and actually get in underneath the tarantula and then flip it over, and then sting it. She’s usually looking for a chink in the tarantula’s armor, and that’s often at the joints in the legs.

(Fig. 03)