Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge - 3/13/16

Ash Meadows Spring Pool

Ash Meadows NWR

Ash Meadows Visitor Center

Running Water
 On the last day of the Death Valley NP excursion, all thirty-three hikers decided to join the easy hike offered at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The hikes of the day before were challenging and it was time to relax a little and, perhaps, scoot out early back to Vegas. We drove north from the Longstreet Inn on Hwy 373 for only 1.5 miles and turned right. The long well-maintained dirt road finally led us past the park boundary and up to the Visitor Center built in recent years.

Spring Marsh & Boardwalk
 Our caravan of cars arrived at the visitor center and filled up the parking lot. Inside, we were welcomed by two ladies who were able to answer all our questions.

Enjoying the Marsh
 We looked through the exhibits for about ten minutes then asked the ladies for a movie showing.

Boardwalk Rondezvous

The movie lasted around 15 minutes and the information offered with excellent photography made the showing worth our while. From there, we exited the visitor center through the back door and started exploring the mile long boardwalk that led us through a beautiful springs area. The water was so clear and blue that it made a stark contrast to the desert. There were some pupfish in the water. Pupfish are so called because they swim and play darting here and there protecting their territory ... like puppies.

Finding Pupfish
 All of the hikers enjoyed the boardwalk but a few were getting antsy about returning home.

Attention, please! We have the lizard!
 A plan was devised to visit Crystal Springs Reservoir, Point of Rocks and Devil's Hole.

Crystal Springs Reservoir

Taking Photos at Crystal Springs Reservoir
 Crystal Springs Reservoir is a beautiful lake colored a light blue. There is no camping or swimming allowed here anymore. Our caravan of cars barely fit in the parking area but we found somewhere to park and walked around the shoreline for a few minutes. The next stop was Point of Rocks but, some of the cars never showed up! About half of the hikers continued here by exploring the boardwalk and springs with more pupfish.

Photographing the Pupfish at Point of Rocks
 There was a small trail that led into a neighboring valley but it stopped here. If you wish to hike at Ash Meadows, it would be necessary to plan your own route and bushwhack.

Blue Pupfish & One Crayfish
 Laszlo decided to climb a nearby small peak to get in some aerobic activity.

Beautiful Day

Winding Boardwalk at Point of Rocks
 We would like to suggest that Ash Meadows put in a hiking trail that would take visitors around to many of the points of interest without having to get in and out of the car. It appears that there are several opportunities for hiking here.

Next, the remaining hikers piled back into the cars and drove up to Devil's Hole. This is a small section of the park that is actually part of Death Valley National Park.

 Devil's Hole is very deep. In fact, no one has ever been to the bottom. They know, for sure, that it is at least 500 feet deep and that there are two bodies inside that were never recovered.

Laszlo's Peak
 Pupfish live near the surface on a shelf area but the hole, itself, narrows down very small.

View from Laszlo's Peak

I can't find a trail.
Devil's Hole is very well protected with fencing and, probably, cameras. There isn't much to see except a ... well ... hole. Anyway, we saw it and concluded our Ash Meadows excursion. Everyone exited the refuge in different directions as the Death Valley 2016 excursion came to a close. A very enjoyable weekend with almost perfect weather.

The total amount of hiking we did at Ash Meadows amounted to a little less than 3 miles.


Devil's Hole

What's next?

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