Saturday, April 10, 2010

Potato Knoll - 4/10/10

The Around the Bend Friends celebrated a beautiful spring day, when tempera- tures reached 80 degrees, with a jaunt around Potato Knoll in front of Wilson Peak of the Red Rock Canyon escarpment. Nearby, the Visitor's Center and Scenic Loop was crawling with activity as the new Visitor's Center was having its Grand Opening and Senator Reid was attending for the ceremony. We were able to avoid the bustle by starting the hike from the parking lot at the exit of the scenic loop.

There were forty- two hikers hiking the 5 mile trek around the knoll. We started out through the desert on the horse trails which were worn into the terrain. Throughout the hike, we crossed Oak Creek four times. The creek was still flowing with a small to medium amount of water. The desert had an abundance of indications of spring. Every direction you looked, was a beautiful view. We hiked around the knoll in a clockwise direction.

When we arrived at the backside of the knoll, a small group of hikers took their break as they waited for a larger group of hikers to climb the knoll. While waiting for the climbers, we took note of some of the details that the desert had to offer.

The Joshua Trees are blooming this year after taking a break last year. This bloom to the left was one of the few that had already made a showing here at Red Rock.

The Indian Paintbrush is blooming in full force.

LPF's (Little Purple Flowers) were carpeting the ground underneath creosote bushes. Periwinkle flowers are a trailing ground cover whose real name is vinca.

The beaver- tail prickly pear cacti are budding. This particular one will have many blooms very soon.

This beetle quickly made his way across the trail while we were waiting for the climbers.

This is a common lizard of the southwest found in hot and dry locations. They start becoming very active as the weather begins to warm up.

Wild rhubarb has been appearing in the area for three to four weeks.

The flowers and berries of most of the 106 species of manzanita are edible. The bark can be chewed to deter thirst.

When the climbers returned, we continued around the knoll passing between Potato Knoll and Rainbow Peak. Back here, the earth is very red. As you round the corner, the floor of Red Rock Canyon comes back into view. Oak Creek Canyon is also seen close by.

When we met Oak Creek for the third time, some hikers decided to balance their way down the creek to the fourth crossing. We hopped from rock to rock and made our way through some tall brush. The creek was still flowing all the way through. In the summer, this creek bed becomes dry in spots as the water goes underground for yards at a time. After our creek excursion, we all returned to the cars.

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