Saturday, April 25, 2015

Calico Basin Low Elevation Wander - 4/25/15

Low End of Gateway Canyon

Dragon Peak from Ash Creek Trail

Hallucinogenic Jimson Weed (datura) - Don't Touch!

 Immediately to the north of the Calico Hills of Red Rock Canyon NCA lies a pocket of private property with a few houses, farms and ranches. Prime property, to be sure! This area is named Calico Basin. Surrounding this pocket, the conservation area has several trails that crisscross the desert between the Calico Hills and Kraft Mountain. A spring, meadow area and small creek can be found within these trails and we call this Ash Meadows. There are several popular trail junctions that can be reached from the Red Springs Park picnic area in the basin.

Finding Lavenderleaf Sundrops at Base of Angel Pass
 Twelve leisurely hikers started out at Red Springs Park and, after checking out the Jimson Weed that was blooming near the cars, followed the trail up toward the Angel Pass trail junction.

Prickly Pear about to Burst with Blooms

 Right away, we could see that this would be a "flower" hike. There were more different kinds of flowers blooming right now than there had been all spring. We were on a quest to identify all of them! There is a serious attempt to identify the captured photos in a collage below. There were two other blooms that the writer neglected to photograph. One was a pink fuzzy ball-like bloom which is probably buckwheat. And, the other was a beautiful low-to-the-ground clump of purple flowers that may be notch-leaf phacelia.

Water in Ash Meadows
 We dropped down to take a closer look at the rock labyrinth that was constructed at the old home foundation a few years ago. Then we dropped a little further to skim past the lower end of Ash Meadows.

 There was a decent showing of water in Ash Creek. Here, we started up the trail toward Kraft Mountain. To reach the red and white sandstone mountain, we had to cross over desert terrain. We looked for tortoises as we hiked.

Passing By a Few Climbing Boulders

 Our route took us right by four or five of the large climbing boulders. Each one already had occupants with crash pads below as seen in the photo above. We detoured up to take a peek at the petroglyphs found on a large boulder on the east end of Kraft Mountain. These writings are named the "Birthing Rock" Petroglyphs because they seem to represent a woman giving birth. From here, we continued around the end of the mountain and hiked into the canyon as far as the trail would take us without dropping into the wash.

Circling the East End of Kraft Mountain
 The end of the trail came to an excellent place to explore up into the peak terrain of Kraft. Next time. We took our break then gathered ourselves and started our return.

Enjoying a Break at Gateway Canyon

 The return route brought us near the dirt parking lot at the end of Sandstone Road, then circled back through the desert terrain until we crossed a small road and dropped down to walk along the Ash Creek Trail. Heading straight back to the cars, we climbed a small hill and dropped down to the parking lot. Very nice hike and pleasant company.

5 miles; 600 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Mojave Yucca on East End of Kraft Mountain

Hiking Back toward the Calico Hills

Hiking along Ash Creek

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