The second ride of Thanksgiving vaction '08 took in a lot of territory. [Google Earth file here --> North Valley/Mine's/Powerline]
The gate across the "water tower road" trailhead was open for some reason today, so we didn't need to wander around the desert to the trail. It's a fairly straight shot up across the East Bunkerville Flats to North Valley; so, I "inflicted" some desert lore on the boys.
At Keyhole Rock they were ready to climb (both are part mountain goat), so both took different routes to the top of the ridge. Eagle's Nest, had sticks in it but no active "nest" - perhaps the desert puma's got 'em. There were several other "keyholes" that weren't obvious from the valley floor below.
Hanging Cave was indeed a cave, albeit shallow. There was evidence of others having been there before and possibly a fire ring of sorts. The rock was very loose and the drop-offs substantial, but they made it back down and were glad to sit on their ATVs for awhile more.
Of course I pointed out Aztec Rock, Gunsight Pass and Knife Edge Cliffs to them before we went down that incline which has become my nemesis. I say that because my Kodiak's weight overcomes the resistance on the loose soil so the brakes don't hold and there is NO stopping.
Last spring we occasionally saw a road-runner traversing the valley but haven't this year. Exiting the valley there is a trail which runs to the left and around to Hidden Canyon. It's hidden because it's a dead-end box canyon until you get to within 10 feet of its end and find another canyon at right angles. It's steep, washes out with every storm and often needs a bit of 'housekeeping' in order to make it over the rocks.
It, however, is the only way to get up into South Valley and the Abandoned Mine area without going back down Nickle Creek Ravine and back up the other side. We took one of several trails to the right, toward the lake, and found ourselves shortly at an old turquoise mine (none left).
With still some riding time left, we went along to Great Eastern Mine. Not much is there anymore, except the shaft which is flooded. There is some shade and an opportunity to look out over the Virgin River Valley and Bunkerville.
Unless you go back down Hidden Canyon you must go back through West Bunkerville Flats until you can cross Nickle Creek Ravine. You know you are to where you can cross when you see giant, rusty-red, pipes from an old graphite plant at the ravine's mouth - and then it's ... Powerline!
Powerline has an interesting bunch of trails. You travel as great a distance vertically as you do horizontally. Although the trail was once graded, for access to the powerlines, there is A LOT of up and downs! And to many of us snowbirder's - requires Dramamine!
The kids like it though because it's one of the rare places in the area which lets you think that you're going free range. You're not really, cause you still have to stay on the trails, but it looks like you are.
Too soon were were back at the trailer and home. After this long ride, however, I was ready for some left over turkey and cranberry's, yum!