13 January 2019

London Bridge via Sunset Trail

Lake Havasu State Park



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I must admit to feeling a bit uninspired by Lake Havasu. It seems like a place supposedly geared toward an outdoor life that merely tolerates me at its edges. It is full of big RVs and big boats and if you forgot yours (or just couldn't bring it while you flew in), there are a dozen places to buy some. There is a sense of a Disney World to the place that probably started long before there was one to emulate. The London Bridge was purchased in 1888 and brought over in numbered pieces. It is actually only the outer stones of the bridge which were placed on a concrete structure, so it isn't quite so ostentatious as it sounds. Still plenty ostentatious. And you've got to see it. That's why he did it, so you'll come and see it. And there is sort of a way to do it on my own terms as part of a hike: via the Sunset Trail. It's right there in the AllTrails list. The state park wants $15 or $20 entry depending on the day.

signs blocking the scenery
Signs, signs, everywhere, signs. Just so you know. Fee area.

sandy beach
There's nothing unnatural about this beach at all. Sure the sand is pebbles at the water line but the palms might have a relative growing naturally in a few hundred miles.

Move around the lot far enough, and I can find the trail. It has a nice big sign with a bit of information including a map. Behind it is a very wide sandy trail that is very easy to walk along.

trailhead sign
Information on plants and animals to inform the public and a map of sorts.

11 January 2019

Crossman Peak

Lake Havasu City area BLM


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I have as a sort of goal to climb peaks listed as the USA Lower 48 Top 400 Peaks by Prominence and Crossman Peak is ranked #343 on that list. Unfortunately that rank is by height, but a bit over 3k prominence isn't too shabby. Getting there is much easier with a 4x4 or even just some high clearance, but Alltrails says I can do it in about 13 miles round trip, so I am going to go for it. The day is a little short and my start got delayed thinking I might have dropped my wallet out of a back pocket while scaling something nearby called "Little Haystack" on Lists of John, but finally located it in an unexpected pocket of luggage before having to scale the "3+" rocks again hoping to spot it. It's the little things that make a day go smoothly. Never mind, it is practically a road walk anyway and the weather will not look good on photos tomorrow, so I found my way to the end of the pavement on Bison where there is a little bit of parking and am taking to the trail. Which, as stated, is a road for a bunch of miles.

Crossman Peak
The destination is the high point out there, but it's going to take a lot of flat, easy jeep roads to get there.

There are lots of roads to choose from, but as my destination is near a bunch of towers and you supposedly can get there from here, I figure I stick with the most main looking one and it should do the trick.

road out to some pinker rocks
Plenty of other bumps to go up around here, often with a road, and some of them with a bit of color.

looking down on a bit of city and lake of Lake Havasu (City)
Looking back, there is already a bit of view of Lake Havasu on the Colorado River. It is a big, flat road, but they put a couple big rocks right at the start to discourage me.

Jeep road it may be, but what people really come here with is ATVs, which the city lets them drive about to the supermarket and everything, so no one needs to bother about trailering it to the staging point. Three of them pass me before the first mile. I'm ultimately going where they can't. There's a gate.

ocotillo and the mountain
I've gotten to where the ocotillo grow. A little closer look at Crossman Mountain at the right and the antennas down at the saddle to the left.

07 January 2019

Woods Mountains including Tortoise Shell Mountain

Mojave National Preserve


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There is a closer parking spot off the road a little to the north, but that one has gotten a bit rumpled after some flooding last summer, so I decided to just start where I was. I noticed I was just east of a benchmark right out there in the middle of the sands and thought I'd have a go at finding it first, then off to the cliffs I can see out there and around to some prime spot to head for the first peak: Tortoise Shell Mountain. First to head vaguely winding between the spines to a road, and then along that road until near the benchmark.

Tortoise Shell Mountain ahead
The real first destination of the day is the lump of rock that is Tortoise Shell Mountain.

Woods Mountains
Then on to the rest of the Woods Mountains for the high point, which is the third from the left.

The weatherman says the day will be cloudy in the morning and sunny in the afternoon. Certainly has the first part right. Finding the benchmark is straightforward enough although it takes a little circling. The desert floor looks like it might be a bit mobile, but it seems it has stuck around here since 1935. The sparse plants around it are probably older than they look, but out here they do seem to be smaller and simpler than in other places.

benchmark out in the sand
Even the sighting post is still here for this benchmark out in the sand.

So attention back to that mountain. I make a line to the cliffs I can see and then around the edges of them. They may not be the lava I took them for at first. Most things around here seem to actually be ash and these are full of smaller rocks as ash tends to be when the rocks get kicked up with the ash. Lava can contain smaller rocks too, when the embedded rocks have a higher melting point or simply because it cooled enough before an embedded rock could fully melt. The dark color is actually desert varnish. They are very light where they have chipped, but they are sufficiently stable to have varnished to near black. The cliffs are interesting. Meanwhile the clouds play dancing games among the peaks.

Wildhorse Mesa partly visible
Wildhorse Mesa is playing with some clouds, but they seem transitory.

04 January 2019

Table Top

Mojave National Preserve


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Off to another mountain! This one took a little time to find parking, but eventually I found a bit along something I wasn't sure was a real road. It takes a bit of a jump of about 4 feet up quite suddenly which a few users have found a way around, then looks a bit like it is trying to be a camp site, then settles into being a road going on and on towards whatever it might desire. It is even on my map. It is easier to pull off to the side of than the main road so helpful as parking before that sudden up. From here, it should be a jaunty walk across the fairly flat desert followed by a general attempt to go up quickly, but not so quickly as there is a cliff to try to scale. Like the other peaks in the area, this one has a number of cliffs to ring it.

rough stuff on a bit of questionable road
Rough stuff doesn't bother the people who come here. This is the Mojave National Preserve!

I follow the road a little bit, but its direction is far too much to the south for my taste. I am going east to get to the base of Table Top, mountain of extraordinary mesa shape. It is two miles to the east with something smaller to get around first.

some sort of flat topped peak
That doesn't look far ahead, so it must be the something smaller.

rather wider flat looking mountain
Wild Horse Mesa, also holding up the terms of looking like a table.

03 January 2019

Cave Spring and roadside lava caves

Mojave National Preserve


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I noticed there was a spring marked on the electronic map not more than a mile from my campsite and decided to see what it may hold. Probably the cows know about it and it is just a mess. Certainly man knows about it, it's on the map. Probably it has been piped for the cows. Zooming closer, a name appears. "Cave Spring" probably means it's another mine that hit water. Anyway, I resolve to stride out across the desert and see it, then wander back along the ridge it is nearly on and see the road side caves on the way back.

near edge of Wild Horse Mesa
The spring is supposed to be on this close ridge of Wild Horse Mesa. It is around a couple corners from here.

Setting off, there is very quickly a cow path going my way. I follow it across the desert edging around the side of the ridge, until it gets lost in an area of cow sitting about. I just go on for I am not quite ready for sitting about. Cow paths develop under me again as I climb over a low rock ridge using a break in the rocks. Up on a far wall, there seems to be a spot where the rocks have been dug like for a mine. Maybe that is my destination.

large bones including leg and back
Cows live here and they die here.

more of the edge of the mesa
The spring should be in the right hand canyon. There is something that looks like diggings ahead.

01 January 2019

Hole-in-the-Wall: Rings Loop and Barber Peak Loop

Mojave National Preserve


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The Hole-in-the-Wall visitor center for the Mojave National Preserve has a little notoriety to its local trails because one is set with rings to help travelers traverse a couple spots that otherwise would be somewhat difficult climbs. There are two loops possible to combine with the short rings loop, one to the south known as the Rings Loop is about a mile, one to the north known as the Barber Peak Loop is about six miles. The Rings Loop heads out from the south side of a parking lot near the visitor center and returns through the Hole to a picnic area on the same spur road but past the visitor center. There is a sign to show the start. This sign also explains the trail markings that are put up frequently along the route to that it is more easily distinguished from washes, cow trails, random abundances of human footprints off trail, and whatever else might exist to get folks lost.

Hole-in-the-Wall visitor center
The visitor center in front of Barber Peak and, not visible, the hole-in-the-wall.

trail in the desert
A bit of the trail in the desert. It can quickly become hard to distinguish from the rest of the desert and the rest of the trails.

Woods Mountains and Tortise Shell Mountain
Looking at the Woods Mountains and Tortoise Shell Mountain across the main road.

The trail navigates to the side of a couple washes and already it is easy to wander off in the wrong direction if not looking for signs. Ultimately, it just follows a rather flat route around the base of the mountain that happens to have a slot through it that is the hole-in-the-wall. As I get a bit further off into a wash that was not meant to be followed down the middle so much as down the side, I notice an information sign that also serves to show where the trail is. This one happens to shout out some petroglyphs that can be found on a few of the local rocks.