Friday, December 26, 2008

Ride 6 - Lime Kiln and Middle Canyons

Next to Canyonlands of Gold Butte, Middle Canyon is one of the "best kept secrets" of the ATV rides in Mesquite. It isn't difficult, but it's a beautiful, non-demanding ride. [A Google Earth file of this route is available -->   Lime Kiln/Middle Canyons]

To relax in a short day, it's a good bet. True, today was a bit chilly - we had to put on a jacket and cover our ears when we were at speed; but, the sun was out and the roads were clear. Besides, what do you expect? It's Christmas!

It's been awhile since we last rode so we decided we needed to go "check on the fish." We trailered across Riverside Bridge to the trailhead, then rode up the Lime Kiln Canyon Road.

The fish at the canyon trailhead were still doing great under a crust of ice; but, the fish up in the trough were completely GONE! Not in the plants, not on the ground, not up the pipe in the sump -- gone! Do desert puma's eat fish?

Dispondent over a project which failed we rode back down to the crossroads that I mentioned before. We took the trail up Middle Canyon and were very pleased.

We found another trough - no fish - but these things are good landmarks for where you are. The junipers must have had a great year this summer, the branches were as laden with berries as we've ever seen, and fragrant.

The scrub oak was thick and acorns were strewn across the ground. Bannana Yucca was thick and near the top (where it became too steep for us to ride) even Pinyon Pine dotted the hillside.

Riding back down we passed fields of Buckhorn Cholla and that funny looking cactus - I've got to find out what to call it. A good ride, longer than we had planned, even if the fish were gone.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ride 5 - Lime Kiln Fish Transplant

Water is a major source of effort around Mesquite Snowbird Headquarters. Much money is spent running pipe around and through the canyons to pipe water to cattle. And the thing is, that a lot of the "water holes" have fish in them! Goldfish. [A complete Google Earth file of this trip is available, free at --> Lime Kiln Canyon - Fish]

There is a water trough on one of our favorite rides which has simply been "begging" for a few fish every time we saw it. It's old and big and has water plants covering the bottom. So, after realizing that we were going up the canyon again, I went to Walmart and purchased 6 little goldfish (they gave me 7).

We trailered up to the first corral on Lime Kiln Canyon road then headed up the canyon. We saw a fairly "hidden" cross-the-flats trail coming out behind the corral and vowed to take it back down.

The main trailhead is at the mouth of the canyon and we stopped in to say "hello" to the "herd" (these are Nevada fish) in the large cattle trough. They were all doing well under a skim coat of ice.

Up the road further we stopped and gave my goldfish their new home. They immediately took to the moss and plants, and began nosing at the water skippers which were still a bit too big for them to eat - yet.

Back at the mouth of the canyon again we found a trail to the left and took it to see where it went. It actually came to a cross roads which went up into Middle Canyon, ahead to the Cabin Canyon Road or down to the first corral and the trailer.

We took the later and accidentally stumbled upon the weirdest looking cactus we had seen. Branches as small as pencils and little bumps where there should have been thorns. I later found one other example at the museum in Mesquite, but the curator didn't know what it was or where it came from.

As with most other rides we take, we found new oddities and several other unknown trails that we vowed to come back later and ride ... so many trails... so little time!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ride 4 - Canyonlands of Gold Butte

An all-but-neglected ride near Mesquite Snowbird Headquarters is Canyonlands of Gold Butte. I haven't yet met anyone who seems to know about it (or admits it), let alone having visted it. [A full Google Earth file is located here -->   Canyonlands of Gold Butte]

The problem is that everyone is zooming by so fast in order to get down to the "good stuff" on the butte, that the area is barely noticed, more than "that's pretty, I wonder what's up there."

We found out today when we got a late start and didn't have but a half-day to ride. It is "real pretty". The trailhead is next to the virgin river and has a trail that does run down by it for a little ways. Unfortunately, it stops at the base of a cliff, blocked by heavy thicket.

On the other side you can pick any one of three canyons, all of them have steep high cliffs the same color as most of the rocks around here.

One canyon has many, many angles such that you really feel you are going a great distance. If it weren't for the occasional cow, one could think he was the first to discover it.

One trail led up a steep incline which eventually got too steep for my 2-wheel drive machine.

And yet another canyon led up to a box canyon with an odd looking cliff face. When we got up close the face was an obvious patina of clay-like mud. It has apparently washed over the cliff above to cover the rock with a 1-2 inch crust which can be carved upon. And it has been.

There are autographs all over the face - hence "Autograph Cliffs". Some looking like they were written before a new wash of patina came down on them. There are one or two persons who have obviously been there several times. And at least one who was an Egyptian - or thought they were.

A unique aspect of this area is that the emense, sheer wall is recessed into an alcove and there is a large fire-ring surrounded by old sofa's. It looks like a comfortable "media-center" of sorts.

Something like that should probably be well-known, at least to the high school kids of the area. However, none of the boys at church are admitting it!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kokopelli 2 - Petroglyph Trail/Oasis

Mesquite has an ATV club which rides about every other week on a group basis (about every other day on an individual basis). Charles Cox, of C&K blinds, heads the group of intrepid souls who are nearly all retired or close to it.

I rode with them today, first to see the sights of the area, but second to inventory what damage the BLM has done to the ATV trails. I mentioned previously how the locals are up in arms over all the closures this year. [A complete Google Earth file of the ride is here -->   Kokopelli Ride 2]

We trailer'd down to the Whitney Junction Trailhead. From there the main trail runs Southwest into the Black Butte. Off the main trail there are side trails which run usually Southeast into the cliffs where petroglyphs reside.

This year, in their infinite wisdom, the BLM has contracted with a bunch of yokels from an "institute" to basically block and "erase" all of the side trails. That makes as much as a 4 mile hike into the glyphs! Basically eliminating them from most of the clubs abilities. Talk about age discrimination! If the mayor and council think this is going to help their community they perhaps should wake up and smell the coffee!

The trail into First Rock was still there and we were able to see the petroglyphs at that site. You do need to walk several yards into the alcove in order to see them, but the glyphs are still there and have definitely NOT changed or been harmed since my several visits last year.

The Falling Man [aka Whitney Hartman] area was a different story, however. The trail has been blocked back to the main road. We wanted to try and hike in but again in their infinite wisdom, the "institute" goofballs made no place to park the rigs where they want you to stop. Visitors had begun making an ad hoc parking place all over the surrounding area at the entrance.

The site is one of the most celebrated due to the peculiar glyph - which is obvious once you see it. A local school principal (retired) has spend many years working on deciphering some of them and writes about the event in his book: "The offense of the evil man." Basically, a recalcitrant Indian whose actions had killed several people and made others ill, and who couldn't be controlled any other way, was punished by being thrown off the cliff.

We made it down to where the BLM has closed off the 21 goats trail but were able to find an alternate way up a very rocky wash. Again, it was just as how I had left it last year. No change, no damage! These glyphs are noted for the sheer number of goats in a line. Goats were used to represent people or groups of people and their actions.

From there we found one of the areas largest cisterns. It's mostly a dry hollow inside rock borders, but after a rain contains probably thousands of gallons of water.

We followed the trail down into a major wash and found, again, that the BLM had blocked off the trail up to the Khota Circus trailhead. Those glyphs have already only been observable after a fairly long 2.5 mile desert sand hike down into a lower canyon and back. Now, they have chocked on an additional 2 miles, making it close to 4 miles round trip from the blockaid sign.

We followed the wash toward the lake and around the flats into the lower end of Mud Wash. From there we rode up into the Middle Gold Butte area and the Oasis.

As I've mentioned before, this area is a favorite because of the Devil's Fire formations. We were able to hike to the petroglyphs but could barely see them due to the light at 4 o'clock in the winter.

We made it up the wash, onto Gold Butte road and back up to the Whitney Junction trailhead just before dusk. A long ride ... a bit frustrating ... and tiring (but it's a good tired.)