Sunday, December 20, 2015

Blue Diamond to Ducky / LawnMower Lp - 12/20/15

In the Desert Backhills

Ducky / LawnMower Junction

Morning Cloud Cover over Escarpment

Festive Blue Diamond, NV
 Blue Diamond, Nevada lies within the Red Rock Canyon NCA. It is a small old & private community. It reluctantly tolerates the bikers and hikers that use the little town as a trailhead for fun. When starting a hike from Blue Diamond, the people of the town prefer that you use the dirt parking lot found on the right side of the entrance road (Castalia Drive) or at a nearby bike shop. Therefore, when you want to start your hike on the old trail at the top of the hill behind Blue Diamond like six hikers did today, you have to hike from this parking lot through the residential community to the top of the hill.

Spanish Trail Marker
 At least the community provides a public restroom on the other side of the nearby ball field. We do appreciate that. So, we hiked up to the old trail and made our way out between the hills on the left.

Hurl Trail

Landmine Loop
 The bikers have now named the trails in this area and the names can be seen on a Google Earth map. The old trail is called Hurl Trail. (Not sure why.) Anyway, we hiked out the Hurl Trail all the way around to the right where it junctions with the Landmine Loop. We continued straight onto this long loop that encircles the Blue Diamond Tertiary Ridge. At this point, we had already happily allowed four bikers to ride past our little line of hikers. We were always on the lookout for the bikes in front and back yelling "Bicyles!" whenever one was approaching.

Landmine Loop Extra to Cactus Slalom & Ducky
 We crossed the wash at a fork. This extended trail is called Landmine Loop Extra. Next, we passed the Ducky / LawnMower junction and took a left onto the Ducky Trail at Cactus Slalom.

Ducky Trail

Approaching Rubber Ducky Yucca
 Our mission, today, was to see how many ducks were hanging out in the area ... rubber ducks. Recently, all the ducks on the joshua tree called Rubber Ducky Yucca had been removed for the second time. A sign was placed there saying, "Wanted: Ducky Thief!" There was a rumor that the BLM Rangers had removed the plethora of ducks from the tree the first time to protect the integrity of the conservation area. It is assumed that this is the case for the second time. ... Rangers, we are only having a bit of fun.

The Only Ducks Around
 Arriving at Rubber Ducky Yucca, we saw that there were only 3 ducks. Add the 2 ducks we saw on the trail signs and that made 5. Perhaps if we made the ducks out of rocks or sticks, that would be natural enough for the rangers.

Wash to Escarpment View

Connecting with LawnMower Route
 After passing the duck tree, we turned left onto a trail that would take us to the lawn mower. Yes, there is an actual lawn mower in the desert. We wondered why the rangers didn't take it, too. During our snack break, here, we inspected the motorless contraption incredulously. How did it end up here? After the break, we went up the hill from the lawn mower on the LawnMower route to the LawnMower Saddle and turned right. Going straight from here put us on the LawnMower Descent Trail.

The Lawn Mower ... Such as it is.
 This is an interesting descent down along a rocky wash with several switchbacks. On a previous hike, we watched while two bikers struggled up the descent trail in the wash.

Arriving on LawnMower Saddle

LawnMower Descent Trail
 At the bottom, we went out to the next junction and turned left to head back over to the Landmine Loop. A small short cut across the Black Velvet wash put us back on that main trail and we turned to the right. The bikers had made it out of bed and were whizzing right and left. We were still happily moving out of the way until one biker caught us by surprise from behind. He was moving very fast and decided it was a good idea to not slow down on his approach to us. "Coming through!" is all he said. We heard him and yelled to the others as loud as we could and with urgency. This crazy dude almost mowed down three of our hikers in the process. Hey, bikers, not everyone can hear that well. What's your hurry, anyway?

Wide View toward Landmine Loop and Blue Diamond Tertiary Ridge
 After this episode, our reflex time multiplied! And, it wasn't that bad of a reflex time before.

Returning to Landmine Loop

Hurl Trail Again
 We connected again with the Hurl Trail as we were now on the return portion of our partial loop hike. The temperature had been very comfortable with just a tad of wind but nearing the end of the hike, the skies began clouding over. We dropped back into Blue Diamond the same way we had left but took a slightly different route through the little town back to our cars. Our pace today neared 3 mph for the entire distance! A nice fast desert hike.

9 miles; 911 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Returning to Blue Diamond

Heavy Clouds moving In

Overcast Blue Diamond from Afar

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