05/16/2013 Update – Yucca Peak Fossil Beds

(Fig. 01) Yucca Peak
MAP-Yucca Peak Hike
(Fig. 02) Click to Enlarge
05/16/2013 Trip Notes: While half of our group hiked to Long Canyon, six of us hiked to the fossil bed ledge. Because I have yet to take the hike to Long Canyon, I have no pictures to post for that hike; though I hope to make the hike on our next visit. As you can see from (Fig. 02) the hike to the fossil beds starts out in a slightly northwest direction across the broad wash coming down from Long Canyon. As you begin to enter the Yucca Canyon wash, the route passes a band of short cliffs on the left side of the wash that contain some interesting little caves in the cliffs. The route stays in the wash to a point past the little cliffs where a gully comes down a steep hillside (Fig. 03). As you look up this gully to the top of the ridge you can see the prominent  limestone buttress with a large cave that forms the south facing cliff at the top of the ridge-line.  Heading west on this fairly steep hillside, the route continues up the gully, moving northward (to the right) requiring a series of switchbacks to climb the many small ledges and cliffs that are at about the same elevation as the cave, eventually taking you to the top of the ridge. The view in (Fig. 01) is from the top looking west toward Yucca Peak. On a stop just before reaching this area, my first pictures of the day were of a two roadrunners (Fig. 04 & 05), one of whom had caught a lizard for breakfast. Click the following link for more info ... Greater Roadrunner.
(Fig. 03) Click to Enlarge (Notice the route in yellow)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
Unlike my previous visit, there was much more time today to roam the top of the ridge looking for fossils (Fig. 06). In addition to finding a few fossil specimens small enough to bring home, we were able to locate dozens of  small fossils embedded into the rocks and ledges along the top of the ridge. The collage below (Fig. 07) contains twelve pictures showing some of these finds.  Taking a different route back, we hiked down a very steep wash that was filled with dozens of rocky ledges and spillovers (Fig 08). About three-quarters of the way down, my hiking partner Judy (Fig. 09) and I both had to stop and take a short rest break. Along our route down this wash we did get to pass several quite colorful plants (Figs. 10, 11 & 12). The flower in (Fig. 10) is a Petiolate Beardtongue (Penstemon petiolatus). The flower in (Fig. 11) is a Desert Larkspur (Delphinium parishii). The flower in (Fig. 12) is a Whitebract Blazingstar (Mentzelia involucrata). (Click any of these links to read more) At the bottom, as we again entered Long Canyon Wash, I spotted a Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) sitting atop a banana yucca nearly two hundred feet away.  The shot in (Fig. 13) is the best I could do with the 20x zoom on my camera. After we climbed out of the wash at the parking area, some of our fellow hikers pointed out nearly a half dozen California Bearpoppy’s (Fig. 14) that were blooming along the sides of the wash next to the parking area. This is the first time I have seen one of these in bloom. Click here to read more about this endangered plant … Caifornia Bearpoppy.
(Fig. 06)
EFP-2013 Yucca Peak Fossils
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)