Saturday, December 31, 2016

White Domes & Fire Wave Loop (Valley of Fire) - 12/31/16

Fire Wave

Fire Wave & Beyond


Descending from Trailhead
 Valley of Fire State Park is located just outside the Great Basin Desert of Nevada. When it rains at the park, the colors change from unbelievable pastels to equally unbelievable multiple colors of reds, yellows, purples, pinks and creams. Today was such a day. When fifteen hikers drove into the park, there were low hanging clouds throughout the valley. A sight to behold! We started hiking at the White Domes Trailhead dropping immediately down to the old movie set.

Movie Set
 We knew we were in for some go arounds. The slots in this small canyon flood after rains. So we turned to the left and came to the first flooded slot.

First Flooded Slot
 The go around was to the left. The leisurely hikers don't scramble much but, with no other choice, up we went on the sandstone.

Go Around

Second Flooded Slot
 At the top of the go around, we were able to get photos of the slot from above. We dropped down to the wash then had to climb out again at the next flooded slot. This slot had only a narrow crack and three hikers decided to cross over the slot and make their way down the sandstone on the other side. The rest of the group did some more scrambling over boulders and back down to the wash. Some of the hikers got their merit badge for scrambling today!

Go Around
 Everyone learned about their fifth leg! AKA five points hiking! As we hiked, we were mesmerized by the color all around us.

Different Go Around
 It was such an unusual sight to see Valley of Fire in these hues. There was also more definition in the rock as far as patterns and designs went.

More Puddles

Third Flooded Slot
 We crossed the scenic drive and headed into the third and final slot. Although this slot was very flooded, it was also the most photogenic. We went as far as we could in the slot and took several photos. From there, we climbed up on the rock to the right and ... went around. We were only in the wash again a short way after that before we had to climb out to the left. Here the red rock had actual yellow stripes in it. We climbed up and over this hill to drop into the wash that wraps around the Wave Wall.

Every Slot worth some Photos
 We dropped through this wash then headed over to the Fire Wave. Usually, the sun is in exactly the wrong place to photograph the Fire Wave properly. Today, with an overcast sky, we clicked away!

Unbelievable Colors!
 Here, we took our break. There were not any other recreational hikers, yet.

Cameras Everywhere!

Rock of Gibraltar from Fire Wave
 Now, we had 3 choices for our return. We could go back the way we came making our way around all the puddles. We could return a longer way using the canyons and washes we knew about from other hikes. Or, we could make a shorter route by using the Fire Wave Trail. Everyone voted for the short route! Hmmm. Anyway, we finished our break and started climbing over the expansive sandstone slab along a trail marked by reflector cairns. These reflectors were set up by the park service to guide hikers back to their cars without destroying much of the surrounding terrain.

Fire Wave Dip
 The trail took us up next to the large rock hill we playfully call the Rock of Gibraltar.

Finishing Break
 From there, we climbed to and crossed the road to parking area #3. There were now a couple of choices for getting back to the White Domes Trailhead which wasn't very far away as the crow flies.

Starting up Fire Wave Trail (Wave Wall Beyond)

Hiking up next to Rock of Gibraltar
There is one trail that dips down into the canyons and washes. But, we decided to take a trail that climbed an earthen hill. It turned out to be a great overlook and we could also see the target parking lot. We had to wind our way back and forth a little but we got down to the trailhead without much effort. An absolutely beautiful morning!

3 miles; 750 feet elevation gain; 2.5 hours

Rock as Backdrop

White Domes Trailhead from Overlook Hill

North End of Park

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