Dates: March 10 and November 29, 2013
Place: Mid Hills campground, Mojave National Preserve, California
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.12307,-115.43283
After hiking the Rings Loop at Hole in the Wall, raiding the visitor center's gift shop and spending a couple of hours on a lengthy branch, we were ready to go hiking again. There was some debate as to which trail to go on. Since time was very much a concern we eventually decided to hike in the area of Mid Hills campground, which didn't require much driving to get to.
Mid Hills campground is situated at the north part of the Providence Mountain range, and it is about 1000 ft higher than Hole in the Wall. The first time I was there it was with my botanist friend on our big desert tour. On that time we had arrived from the north and I was still thinking we might be camping there for the night. Turning east from Kelso Cima Road to Mojave Road, which very quickly becomes a dirt road, we were driving in a beautiful forest of Joshua trees. They were just beginning to bloom and of course we stopped to appreciate them from up close:
|Early-blooming Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) 3/10/2013|
|Antelope ground squirrel|
Only one of the campsites was occupied. Otherwise, the place looked deserted. We didn't see much fresh growth, and the only thing blooming was an invasive species of Stork's Bill. A past fire has left most of the trees dead and bare, and there was snow on the picnic tables.
On some of the trees, though, we saw birds. One of them I even managed to photograph:
|Loggerhead Shrike 3/10/2013|
There was an official sign at the trailhead with a map but, being busy with one of my chikas, I didn't pay much attention to it. The other adults in our group had seen a loop trail on that map and decided we should walk that loop. I didn't argue.
This time I paid more attention to the devastation area left by the big fire a few years back. Very little greenery was left of a vast forest of pinions and junipers that grew there once.
|Fire devastation area. 11/29/13|
|Gooding Verbena (Verbena gooddingii)|
|Cactus (Opuntia sp.)|
|Goldenbush (Ericamria sp.)|
|Desert Sage (Salvia dorrii)|
|White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile|
After a bit less than a mile the creek opens up into a wide plateau covered with dry grasses and dotted with gray shrubs. We kept going straight southward and down without seeing any sign of any trail looping back.
|A pretty rock formation west of the trail.|
Naturally, we were wondering if we'll get rained on. As it happened, we remained dry.
In this light I was finally able to photograph the snow on the peaks of Providence Mountains State Recreation Area (sadly now closed due to budget cuts).
The late afternoon light was also better to photograph these pretty rock buttes north of the trailhead. As tempted as I was to go and climb them, they were a bit far and it was already pretty late.
Near-sunset light as its special beauty. Even if the illumination isn't good enough for and ID. I am happy with just the silhouette.
A final look at the creek we ascended before crossing the divie and going down to the parking lot:
After getting the chikas into the warmth of the car I strode straight to to the sigh post and, sure enough, there's a loop trail marked there. I meant to ask the ranger about it the next day but never got to do it. To me, it is still a mystery.