Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ride 2 - North Valley

Last year we "accidented" upon the beautiful North Valley in the mountains South of Mesquite Nevada. Certainly no one, including the local ATV club president knew of the area so we felt like we had "discovered it."

So, we were anxious, this year, to go see what had happened to "our valley" while we had been gone. We trailheaded at "water tower road" just off of Riverside Rd in Bunkerville. Circumventing "no-no land" where the city doesn't want you to ride, we eventually found the trail up toward the mountains.

It's a little used but fairly graded (at one time) dirt road a bit wider than an ATV and goes fairly straight up across East Bunkerville Flats toward the mountains. Creosote bushes abound with a scattering of the once ubiquitous Mesquite trees for which the town was named. Occasional Joshua trees, Mojave Yucca and Banana Yucca dot the landscape.

You know you are getting close when you come to an abandoned and rusted steam engine once used as a watering device. To the East is Hen Springs Ravine which is fairly impassable and must be circumnavigated if you want to go to Cabin Canyon.

But we want to continue South until the trail abruptly turns West into the valley. The cliffs to the right contain many landmarks. The most visible is Keyhole Rock, a fairly large window in the cliff which looks like ... a keyhole. It is large enough to stand in and watch the valley below from within the shade.

On the mountain side adjacent to Keyhole Rock is Ray's Cactus Garden, a nook in the rock full of barrel cactus which looks like it has been planted there and cared for. Many of the surrounding rocks contain Petro-Droppings, petrified ooze from the once bottom of a lake or ocean.

This year the trail appears a lot more traveled. The formations are still there and intact, and we found several other oddities: Skyline Arch, Hanging Cave and Eagles Nest - all of which are self-explanatory.

Continuing down the trail you come to a significant drop off over a cliff. Even with brakes an ATV still slides down enough to be uncomfortable, but better than trying to go up it. On the right is a singular outcropping of the brilliant red Aztec Formation, the same as down on Gold Butte and in Valley of Fire.

In the valley below are over-your-head Joshua Trees, Gunsight Pass and Knife Edge Cliffs; again, extremely obvious as you travel. The color is grand, the air cooler and and the Joshua Tree-blooming-smell in the spring, extremely fragrant.

We traversed through North Valley and back out onto East Bunkerville Flats then scouted the trail which went up through Hidden Canyon; but, saved that trip for another day. As the sun sets early in the winter, we traveled back across the flats, down to the Powerline Trail area and along the whop-de-do's back to the trailer.

By the way, a full .kml file for use in GoogleEarth is available for this trip at: 2nd Day.kmz; and the full map of all the trails around Mesquite-Bunkerville is available at the companion web site: .


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