To Pahrump and Beyond

Saturday, March 11
We left Death Valley on Saturday (the 11th), and headed to Pahrump, Nevada to restock and repair. The Best Western there also runs a decent RV park and it was centrally located to make things easier. My first order of business was to get new tires I bought while in Death Valley installed. The Big-O tire shop was just a mile away and not too busy. They found my tires and installed them with no problems, and by the time I got back, Mary had most of the laundry done and was soon out to grocery shop while I cleaned the RV. By now the day was gone and we just enjoyed dinner as Pahrump cooled.

Valley of Fire State Park
Sunday, March 12
We left Pahrump mid-morning, heading for Valley of Fire State Park about 50 miles north of Las Vegas. VOF has 2 campgrounds that are 1st come 1st served and a number of water/electric sites. It’s getting pretty hot here. Mid to high 80’s for the next week. 80-85 is tolerable in the RV but pretty uncomfortable, so being able to use the air conditioner would be a great amenity.

We avoided most of Vegas by driving around the southern outskirts, just stopping once for gas, then north through the Lake Mead Recreation Area. My newish geezer pass saved us $20 for the drive. I don’t remember this road at all. Mary tells me we drove this once on an earlier trip, but it seemed new to me. The hills and mountains around were pretty impressive and we thought we might do a day trip back this way again later.Turns out I didn’t need to worry about getting a hook-up site. The campgrounds were completely full. The ranger said only 3 sites had opened up this morning so her advice, look elsewhere. Our choices were dispersed camping 9 miles north near Overton on BLM land, or at Stewart Point 9 miles south, or the Recreation Area campground at Echo Bay 25 miles south. We didn’t want to be around a bunch of OVH’er at Overton, and Stewart was maybe 5 miles down a rough road off the highway and there was some confusion whether it was still dispersed.

Echo Bay turned out to be a very nice choice. It was lightly populated with just a handful of rigs and we found a nicely shaded site overlooking where the lake level used to be. Yes, we could see the lake out there, probably 2 miles away, but our view was still nice. It was hot and we were tired of driving, so we just set out the chairs and enjoyed another cooling evening.

Valley of Fire
Monday, March 13We were up and out early this morning ready to hike around the colorful rocks of Valley of Fire. Early is the best medicine for hiking in the heat as well as avoiding the crowds – and they are here in force. The main attraction for us here is the Rainbow Vista road that runs through the park to the White Dome trail head. Even this early the light was harsh. The light clouds overhead didn’t help soften the sun so finding an angle without using a polarizer or getting my own shadow in the frame was difficult. Working around the technical issues is part of the challenge of making photographs that I enjoy. I keep working until things begin to come together. Sometime it takes a while before that happens. Eventually those things drop away and I can just focus on form. We stopped at a few locations along the road, but wanted to get to the White Dome hike before it got too crowded. Trails like this, were there is lots to photograph can take us several hours to complete. The parking lot for the 1.25 mile loop hike was nearly full when we got there, but we seemed to be in a bit of a lull between people actually walking the trail.The first part descends sharply into a canyon of orange sandstone. It’s a good well-traveled trail with stairs made from the colorful rock in a couple of places. There is a bit of an old movie set at the bottom of the canyon and this is where the trail turns right into a nice little slot canyon. The entrance has rock walls that transition from yellow to pink sandstone and narrows quickly.It is short passage and on the other side there are several fascinating areas of striated sandstone and rock to photograph – and lovely shade if it is early. At this point we could branch off the trail to walk up a nearby wash, but in previous trips we found it too hot and of less interest photographically to want to do it again. We chose to just follow the main trail back to the trailhead. It is a fairly gentle rise up through more sandstone of many shades. We found some nice little caves and windows with amazing layers and fanciful formations to keep us busy. After hiking, we returned to camp for the day.

Tuesday, March 14Today is the hottest yet with temps up to 89. We decided to hang out in the morning, enjoying the cool air and catching up on our blogging. Later in the afternoon, we took an air-conditioned drive along the rec area. But first we drove to the actual lake whose namesake we are staying. We passed one long abandoned boat ramp, then another before finally reaching the current ramp. The lake level has been dropping for many years now, the high water mark clearly visible as a bathtub ring. Hard to judge how far down it is, but it seems like maybe 50 ft. Locals tell us it has actually risen this year. Of course it is dependent on water releases upriver from the other dams. We lingered here only a short time. This place is kind of disturbing to me. It seems so out of balance with nature, and knowing a little about water history in the west, makes especially concerned.We set out to do a drive down the North Shore road we drove in on. Not all the way, but just back to the place where the coloring in the hills got good. We stopped first at a rest stop that boasted some nice sandstone, and attempted a hike, but this afternoon was intensely hot, so we cut it short and just continued our drive. We are moving on to Kanab, Utah tomorrow. We’ve been through this area many times and each time we find new things to do. While here, we will probably try for a permit to hike to the Wave – a unique sandstone formation. Chances are slim with only 10 people allowed for this first-come-first-served lottery. 120 people is the average the past week. Lots of other things to do though.

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