Tuesday

Roadtrip - Wupatki National Monument

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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

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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

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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

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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

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


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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)

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This page last updated on 10/02/2017
(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)


Grand Canyon National Park - South Rim

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This page last updated on 09/172017
(Fig. 01
Park DescriptionIn 1908, under authority of the Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument. This status protected the region from private development until 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill creating Grand Canyon National Park. In 1979, it was named a World Heritage Site, joining Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, and other distinguished sites having exceptional natural and cultural features considered universally valuable for all humankind. The Grand Canyon ranges from 2,000 feet to 8,000 feet above sea level. At 1,904 square miles, it is 1,218,376 acres in size. The south rim is at 7,000 feet elevation; the north rim is at 8,100 feet elevation. Its average depth is one mile and runs along the river for 277 miles. Its average width (rim to rim) is 10 miles with a minimum width of 600 years (at Marble Canyon) and a maximum width of 18 miles. The park supports a wide variety of plant and animal life indigenous to desert and mountain environments. Almost 2,000 animals and plants have been cataloged in Grand Canyon National Park.

River facts: The Colorado River: The Grand Canyon is the result of erosion, primarily by water. While the Colorado River has played the primary role in creating the canyon's present depth, runoff from rain and snow, and the streams that flow into the Canyon from both rims also helped shape and size the Canyon. The Colorado river is 1,450 long from its source in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Gulf of California. Within Grand Canon National Park, the river is 277 miles in length. Its average width is 300 feet and minimum width is 76 feet. With a average depth of 40 feet, it greatest depth is 85 feet. It runs at an average gradient of 8 feet per mile.


Visit Notes: Upon our arrival, we were deposited in front of the historic Grand Canyon Depot (Fig. 02). Constructed in 1909-1910, it is a log and wood-frame structure two stories high. Originally, the downstairs was designated for station facilities, and the upstairs was for the station agent’s family. Today, the first floor is used for railway passenger services. The building is one of approximately 14 log depots known to have been constructed in the United States, and one of only three remaining. Of the three, the Grand Canyon Depot is the only one in which logs were used as the primary structural material and which still serves an operating railroad. The depot’s logs are squared on three sides creating bearing surfaces, flat interior surfaces and a rustic exterior appearance. If you visit the Grand Canyon take a few moments to step back into time and history as you explore this historic building, (con't below)

(Fig. 02)
Visit Notes Continued: One of the first places we visited was the Hopi House (Fig. 03)designed by Mary Colter, built in 1905. It is a large, multi-story building of stone masonry, shaped and built like a Hopi pueblo. Originally designed to house the main salesrooms for Fred Harvey Indian Arts, Colter designed the building to resemble a Hopi dwelling, after those at Oraibi, Arizona. Initially, Hopi House was an actual dwelling: some of the Hopis who worked in the building lived on the upper floors. The Hopi House is rectangular in plan, and the multiple roofs are stepped at various levels giving the building the impression of pueblo architecture. The sandstone walls are reddish in color, and tiny windows, like those of true Hopi structures, allow only the smallest amount of light into the building. On the interior, the floor finish on the first story is concrete. Most of the rooms have the typical ceiling of the Hopi style: saplings, grasses, and twigs with a mud coating on top, resting on peeled log beams. Corner fireplaces, small niches in the walls, and a mud-plaster wall finish, typical of Hopi interiors, are also character defining features. The interior (Fig. 04) is as impressive as the outside. Inside, Mary Colter’s perfectionist tendencies are apparent everywhere. Corner fireplaces with chimneys are made from broken pottery jars stacked and mortared together. Baskets hang from peeled log beams and low ceilings thatched with young saplings. Kachina dolls, ceremonial masks and woodcarvings are displayed in niche-filled mud-plastered walls. Pottery and jewelry are arranged for inspection on counters draped in hand-woven Navajo blankets and rugs. (con't below)
                                     
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
Visit Notes Continued: After touring the Hopi House, we got our first views of the canyon (Fig. 01 top) and Connie peering through a telescope in the wind as evidenced by her wind-blown hair (Fig. 05). Next we visited the Lookout Studio, completed in 1914, also designed by Colter. Lookout Studio, known also as The Lookout, is a beautiful stone building located on the edge of the South Rim. Side view of the Lookout Studio showing the multiple levels, faux ruins appearance, and banks of windows.(Fig. 06). It currently operates as a gift shop and observation station for visitors, with telescopes on its outdoor terrace. Lookout Studio was constructed by the Santa Fe Railway in 1914 and was established as a photography studio to compete with Kolb Studio. Lookout Studio employs her signature rustic style of using jagged native rocks to imitate indigenous structures of the region and to blend in with the environment. The walls rise to an irregular parapet which incorporates the building's chimneys. Before a roof replacement the roof carried a pile of stones designed to look like they had fallen into ruin. The lookout is on three levels, with a main level housing a shop and enclosed viewing area, a lower viewing platform and a small enclosed observation tower. The view is (Fig. 07) as looking down onto the viewing areas and the canyon below. The lookout is unusually brightly lighted for a Colter building, since its interior receives a great deal of light through its banks of large windows. (Fig. 08) is a view looking back at the El Tovar Hotel and Thunderbird Lodge.

(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
Visit Notes Continued: Next we visited the historic Kolb Studio (Fig. 09). This three story structure on the edge of the rim was operated from 1904 until 1976 as the photographic studio of brothers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb. In 1902, Emery C. Kolb (1881-1976) and Ellsworth L. Kolb (1876-1960) first arrived at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. In 1911, they successfully navigated the Colorado River, filming their journey. Built between from 1904 to 1926, the building which they constructed was both a family home and photographic studio for the pioneering Kolb brothers. The building has evolved through two major additions and countless minor changes during its century of existence at Grand Canyon. After the death of Emery Kolb in 1976, the National Park Service acquired the historic studio. The Grand Canyon Association now operates an art gallery, bookstore and information inside the building. The bookstore's proceeds go to support the building, and the store features a tribute to the Kolbs’ photographs of mule riders at Grand Canyon. The start of the Bright Angel Trail is to the west of the Kolb Studio. We then walked the rim trying to take in some of the views (Figs. 11 thru 13). By the time we finished this, Connie was freezing and couldn't wait to get inside (Fig. 14). (notes con't below)
                                             
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)

(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)
Trip Notes Continued: So we headed to the Bright Angle Lodge and something hot to warm up. With a natural rustic character, Bright Angel Lodge was again designed in 1935 by famed Southwest architect Mary Jane Colter. This iconic lodge and its surrounding cabins are rich with cultural history. Over the years it has gone through many transformations – originally a hotel, then a camp and finally a lodge. All of its changes were to accommodate increased visitation after the arrival of the train in 1901. Under the direction of the Santa Fe Railroad, Mary Jane Colter was tasked to design a fresh look for Bright Angel Lodge in an effort to provide more moderately priced lodging in contrast to the El Tovar “up the hill”. Colter drew inspirations from many local sources in her architecture. For example the ”geologic” fireplace in the lobby featuring all of the rock layers of the Grand Canyon, from the river cobbles to the youngest stone strata on the rim (Fig. 16). A second fireplace actually had a fire going (Fig. 17). Included in this lodge design were a couple of historically significant structures that might well have been demolished without her intervention. The Buckey O’Neill Cabin, originally home to one of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, and the Red Horse Station, which served as the post office for 20 years. A couple of final peek at the canyon on our way back to the train depot for our return train trip (Figs. 18 & 19). Obviously I would have preferred better weather for picture taking, but all in all it was still a great day. Once we got on board we immediately ordered a couple of sparkling winesto help "warm" us up.
                                         
(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18)
(Fig. 19)



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Clicking the picture-link below will open OneDrive in a new window and a folder containing 27 pictures taken of trip to the Grand Canyon South Rim. To view the show, click on the first picture in the folder and you will get the following menu bar:

Click the "Play slide show" will play a fullscreen window of the slide show.