Some Errands and a Death Valley Hike

We took the day pretty easy yesterday. It's nice to just relax after a day of driving. Our driving days are shorter this trip since we aren't tied to the calendar in any way, and it has made the whole trip seem more low-key.

Yesterday morning, Smitty helped me write my blog post.

After that much effort, he took a nice warm sunbath on his window perch.

Sadie prefers the cozy space between Mike's legs.

I worked on my hand quilting for a while and filled what remained of this hoop. I'll spend a little more time on it this morning, but then I think I'll have worked on it long enough to move without guilt to the second snowflake.

We headed out to see the quilt shop, which was our highest priority for the day. I suppose Mike thought the trip to the hardware store was the highest priority, but you know...men. The quilt shop and the hardware store were in the next state over. The Colorado River is the state line between Nevada and Arizona. And, hey! No jumping from the bridge! Geez! Such an unruly crowd.

Also, I was on the hunt for some wheat grass. I'd seen it in the grocery store in Pahrump, and I got the idea the kitties might like it. Then, I got distracted and forgot to look more closely. When we passed by a grocery store on our outing yesterday, we decided to stop in and see if we could find any there, and score! If you look closely at the label, it says it was "certified organic in Oregon."

My friend Gail sent the kitties some grass seed last fall. I've intentionally put off planting it until we get home in the spring because I knew it wouldn't survive the winter. When we got back to the trailer with this, they were all about it. They've been nibbling at it each time they pass by ever since we set it down for them. I had an extra Spiderman bowl, and it fits perfectly there, so it will be easy to keep it watered and growing.

There is a casino associated with this KOA, along with all the other amenities one might find at a casino. We walked across the street to see it last night, and hurried out to the pool area just as the sun was setting. It's a nice pool...very clean...and Mike says the water is warm.

Also, there is a lagoon where the river runs along the back side of the property.

Looking right, there is a footbridge that leads out to an island. You can see it near the middle of the image below. Just above the footbridge is the highway bridge where we crossed over into the state of Arizona.

It was pretty out there in the setting sun.

As we walked back, I spied these blooming things planted along the fence.

And that was kind of the end of our day...not too much excitement. 

So now I want to back up to Death Valley and tell you about the hike we took to the Keane Wonder Mine. Backing up even further, I found this forgotten picture I'd taken while we were still at Stovepipe Wells. These are the Mesquite Dunes. It's a small dune field, but very picturesque in the right light.

Shortly after I took that picture, we headed over to Furnace Creek where we stayed for the remaining four nights of our time in Death Valley. On Day 2, we took a hike out to Keane Wonder Mine. This sign marked the dirt road that led to the abandoned mine. It was a 3-mile trek, but not too rough.

Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times, and fasten your seat belts.

When we reached the parking lot, we learned the many ways we could die on that day.

There was a rather steep but short incline heading up to the mine. We first noticed the remains of a wooden structure. You can see it in the upper right-hand corner of the image below. There were also some large rusty tanks.

It doesn't show well, but the ground sparkled with mica, and there was a particularly large slab that shone like a starling's wings.

The informational sign showed a picture of the mine in its heyday...

Along with this narrative about the mine itself. It was a fairly profitable endeavor.

It's in fairly good condition considering how long it has been since it was shut down. Our hiking book is nearly 20 years old, and told us this area was closed at the time of publication. Since then, the mine shafts and surrounding structures have been stabilized for public safety, and it was reopened in 2008.

The wheel in the image below was a part of a cable and pulley system for a tram. I left my foot there for scale.

From where we were standing, we could look out across the expanse of Death Valley. You can see our truck in the parking area near the middle of the image below.

Walking back and around a hillside, we reached the structure shown in the earlier image. Not much left here, nor any indication of what it might have been.

Turning around 180 degrees, there was an outhouse. It was situated over an open hole. Nice. You can read more about Keane Wonder Mine right here on the National Park website.

After exploring the Keane Wonder Mine, we headed off to another nearby location, hoping to see the ghost town known as Keane Springs. Our hiking book told us the town's short existence (1906-1909) was based entirely on the availability of water.

When the Funeral Mountains were humming with mining activity during the Rhyolite gold boom, Keane Springs promoters counted on providing the water necessary for both miners and ore processing. Ironically, the town was wiped out in a 1909 flash flood. Stupidly, the town was nestled in a wash below the spring. The rolling foothills of the Funeral Mountains featured panoramic views of Death Valley and Tucki Mountain, but it also guaranteed intense wind. The wash presumably offered protection from the wind, but the town's promoters ignored the dangers of flooding in the wash. You can see some pictures of the remains of Keane Springs right here. I note these pictures are more than 20 years old, and so my guess is that any remains of Keane Springs have been washed away in flooding. There was some particularly bad flooding in Death Valley in 2015, and that might have put an end to the town once and for all.

We drove another 2 miles over a dirt road to reach the barricaded road leading out to the remains of the town.

Our book told us the only remains would be a few stone foundations left at the half-mile mark. We saw nothing, but we enjoyed the hike nonetheless. The spring's output has diminished since the beginning of the 21st century. Now, there is no visible flow...not even a gurgle...although we did find an area where the ground was wet and soft.

Birds, other critters, and vegetation would indicate enough subterranean water to sustain life.

The only blooming things I saw along the way were these flowers, dried to straw.

After that, we headed into Beatty to buy some fuel, which took us across the state line into Nevada.

Along the way, we passed the ghost town of Rhyolite, mentioned in an earlier post. I'll tell you more about Rhyolite and resurrect some old pictures from a previous pre-blogging trip.

So that's all I have for you today. We have plans to go out to Davis Dam where there is a short overlook trail, and then take a trail that runs along the river's edge. Here's a link to the information about the Colorado River Heritage Greenway. We'll start at the dam, and then probably take the Riverfront Trail. The weather has been sunny and warm, and so it should be a nice day for a hike.

5 comments from clever and witty friends:

Linda said...

I've spent some pleasant time catching up on your posts and enjoyed the visit to the quilt shop as well as the scenery, your hikes, and the kitties with their wheat grass. I'll have to get some for my three kitties.

Cathy Smith said...

I love riding along with the Traveling Three Cats Ranch! Glad to see Mr. Smitty has taken a shine to the window lounge.

The yellow flowers are Tecoma Stans, commonly known as Yellow Bells. There are many other colors of them also, ranging from a soft clear yellow to wonderful dark burnt oranges. Living here in Tucson, they are a dependable staple in our desert landscaping.

Have fun!

piecefulwendy said...

Boy, that sunset view is a beauty! Sitting here with negative windchills outside, I'm enjoying seeing the palm trees, sunshine, and that inviting pool! I'm not sure about that outhouse though -- one wrong move and it looks like it could go tumbling down the hillside. I should look into wheat grass for Wilbs. Wonder if he'd like it.

QuiltGranma said...

So glad the kitties like their wheat grass. I'll have to recommend it to my sister. I'm glad you both are comfortable walking so you can share with those with aching parts what we would not otherwise see. Am enjoying your adventures.

Kate said...

Cool photos from your hikes. Sounds like you've been doing exactly as planned a bit of this and that.