Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Red Rock Canyon

I went to Vegas last weekend (7/10/10 - 7/11/10) for Patrick and Shannon's wedding and had a blast. Beautiful ceremony, awesome people: just great.

Sunday my plan was to cruise out west of Las Vegas to check out Red Rock Canyon. All I knew about Red Rock was that it was a climbing area, it was supposed to have awesome sandstone, and that the rock was red.

I had no idea it was going to be this gorgeous cathedral of beautiful rock. It literally dropped my jaw.

It's essentially this wide valley protected on the west side by these dramatic, triangular peaks, and on the east side by rolling, petrified sand dunes with colors ranging from brick red to blonde to fuchsia.

Click on any picture to enlarge.

This is when I was still driving, and first caught sight of the park. Again, I had no idea there were going to be mountains like this. I was so excited I took a picture from inside the car:

Another shot while driving in. The colors are a little muted but you can see the huge incredible striations that run horizontally across the peaks:

This is Calico Basin, the east side of the park, the petrified sand dunes:

The little trail across the chaparral gives you a sense of the scale of these things:


Gorgeous wind shaping on the sandstone in a little ravine. The ground in here was covered in fine red sand that had eroded from the walls over the years:

That's really what color the rock is:

Again, use that little trail for size perspective:

Love the two shades of sandstone here. A quarry was operated down at the base of this hill, in the blonde sandstone, for a few years starting in 1904 if I remember correctly, but the costs of extraction proved too high to make the operation profitable and it folded in a couple years:


You can still see the last, unfinished stones that were left in place when the quarry folded:

View from on top of one of the former sand dunes of the peaks in the west:

This orange stone is some of the smoothest natural rock I've ever felt:

Some pretty lichen:

Awesome erosion in the rock. The sand dunes petrified in about third-of-an-inch layers:

Here you can kind of see they layering of the sandstone. I walked down this slab to a little promontory where I got a great view of the valley:

More beautiful yellow sandstone. I leaned in here to get a picture and a grasshopper flew out from under that crack and scared the hell out of me:

View of the peaks with zoom lens. Loved the sunlight that was raking across them as the sun set:

Wide angle from my little promontory:

You can see how it's a little greener at the base of the mountains. There's a little bit of shade there, so it's cooler, and more importantly there's water that seeps through the porous mountain rock and flows out the of the base of the mountain in little springs and streams:

Kicking back for a minute. Was a teensy bit winded from the climb. 98-degree weather didn't help:

This picture's crooked ('cause the camera was on a crooked rock) and out of focus, but I left it in because of the crazy orange light that's reflected off the rock onto my skin (I'm not usually that color). Weird, huh?

View of the mountains:

Cool fuzzy tree:

The line of trees across the bottom fourth of this picture represents a wash that drains the mountains, and, according to the signpost I read, approximates the conditions of the entire Las Vegas valley during the last ice age:

View looking east back at the sand dune area:

Wish I were climbing that ridge!

I love these peaks, especially the middle one with the weird taupe-ish copper color:

Shot from the wash's pine forest:

I have not idea what causes these sort of polka dots in sandstone, but there a number of rocks with this coloration:

Last light:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Joshua Tree Family Trip!

Family trip to Joshua Tree!

The Meaneys (minus Jack) took a trip to Joshua Tree. It was amazing.

Patrick and I headed out on the evening of Thursday, 4/8/10, and spent the night at the BLM dry lake bed, that is now covered in little green sprigs of growth! It used to just be white, dry mud.

Here's Patrick with the new tent we bought with our REI dividend:

Thomas tries it out as well:

Monday we were rudely awoken at 6:30am by the stupid model airplane guys, who apparently fly their pathetic little model planes every day of the week, including Friday. They must not have jobs, but then they probably save a lot of money by living in their mothers' basements and eating nothing but cold Spaghettio's three meals a day and never dating. We were a little grumpy about it. Mostly because we hadn't gotten the tent pitched and into the sack until about 1:30am. Oh well.

We had an awesome breakfast at Crossroads and then headed out to Indian Cove to get on some rock.

We were going to "warm up" by trad leading this "5.5", but it turned out to get a little tricky right at the top of the route, and there was nowhere to put in pro. So the leader (Thomas) bravely decided to heroically turn around and fearlessly climb back down the way he came.

Instead we walked up the backside and just set up a top rope, which was more fun:

Next we sport led this 5.8. Forget the name of the crag, but the route was called White Trash. It was a little scary...not actually dangerous or anything, but just a very rigorous climb, made harder by the heat and the fear factor. Very satisfying, though.

After White Trash we broke for lunch and got a voicemail that Mom and Dad had left at noon. Being that it was around 3pm we figured they should be getting in right about then so we headed over to the hotel just in time to find them checking in!

After checking in we drove in the park and did a little walking about:

Patrick and Mom in the area in front of Hemingway Wall:

Patrick and Thomas and Thomas's yachting shorts:

Mom with one of the gorgeous "claret cup" cacti:

Leezard in repose:

Hemingway wall in the background:

Dad spots a bunny en route to Barker Dam (can you find the bunny?):

Super-high water levels in Barker Dam! Record high, almost. 12' deep in front of the dam:


Dad in front of the dam:

View from the dam. So much greener in this area because of the flow from the dam:

Yet another dam picture:

Mom and Patrick next to what could be either a watering trough for cattle, or an old sluice box from the gold mining days. Either way it was very old, and had these great, hand-forged squarish nails holding it together:

A Joshua tree:

Patrick near Skull Rock:

Hiking up to the top of Ryan Mountain. We meant for this to be just sort of a stroll, but the hike turned out to be pretty tough. Molto steep!

View of the high desert floor from the trail up Ryan Mountain. Look closely and you can see loads of Joshua trees:

The summit!

Where was this again?

Patrick on Ryan Mountain:

Patrick reclines in a naturally ergonomic rock:

View of the Coachella Valley, etc.:

An awesome tree in Real Hidden Valley:

Family with said tree:

On Sunday we took a hike to the 49 Palms Oasis. It was another tough hike, but worth it. I'd never seen an actual oasis. Sadly you couldn't really get too close to the water 'cause it was a protected natural area (or something...I stopped paying attention).

A shot from right next to the oasis:

Momma looking fresh and utterly unphased by the hiking:

A respite beneath the huge palms:

The hike back from the oasis and everyone is having FUN!

Highlight of the hike! We found a desert tortoise plodding along:

View from the ridge with 29 Palms in the background:

Pulled over on the way back to take a snap of San Jacinto. We'll have to come hike it sometime soon.