Fall 2017: Miscellaneous Places

On this trip I encountered three places where circumstances and my preferences conspired to add to my agenda.  They aren’t glamorous destinations, and most people have never heard of them.  But by no means does that make them unworthy of visiting,  All are found on this page.

Alabama Hills

Somehow, the Alabama Hills have slipped between the cracks.  They exist in the Owens Valley between two contrasting and more well-known mountain ranges.  To the West are the majestic Sierras, which are very tall, jagged, dark and forboding.  To the East are the Inyo’s, which are moderately tall, rounded, brown and warm.  These two sit on opposite sides of the valley.  I find that to be very unusual; the sides of valleys are usually similar.  Driving along U.S. highway 395 these ranges, and the stark contrast between them, are captivating.  Who has any interest in a big pile of rocks between them?  But the rocks are definitely worth visiting, IMHO.  And their mountain neighbors only serve to add to the intrigue.  The government doesn’t seem to care much about them; they aren’t managed by the high-profile National Park Service, or even by the U.S. Forest Service, but by the Bureau of Land Management, which only gets the leftovers.  The area is barely managed at all.  You can just drive there, visit, park, camp etc. just about as you like.  If you find yourself in the Lone Pine, CA area be sure to visit them.  (Also do not fail to drive the Whitney Portal Road.)

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The start of the Arch Loop Trail gives a quick look at many of the types of rock formations in the area. The rock pathway tells you that this is a short trail for the general public. The backdrop is the Inyo Mountains.
It's easy to wander the Alabama Hills area on the dirt roads.
It’s easy to wander the Alabama Hills area on the dirt roads.
The nearby rockscape sits below the High Sierra
The nearby rockscape sits below the High Sierra
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There are three layers here: Tan rocks at the bottom, rock hill behind them and the majestic Sierra in the distance. Can you tell which peak is Mt Whitney?
The backdrop for this rock scene is the Inyo mountains.
The backdrop for this rock scene is the Inyo mountains.
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This is it, the Arch Rock, for which the trail is named. Impressed? Was it worth the hike? IMHO, it was just one point along a nice little trail.
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The rock mound in the center left seems odd to me. These seem to be isolated phenomena. They also exist in Death Valley, which is not far away.
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There are three layers here: Tan rocks at the bottom, rock hill behind them and the majestic Sierra in the distance.  Can you tell which peak is Mt. Whitney?

Darwin Falls

Darwin Falls is one of the places to visit in Death Valley, but I doubt it is generally well-known.  It is an almost straightforward, one-mile, out and back hike.

The trail begins as walk along a wash
The trail begins as walk along a wash
The trail may have started as an easy walk, but it's not so easy here.
The trail may have started as an easy walk, but it’s not so easy here.
The brown walls (with many shades of brown) are typical of Death Valley
The brown walls (with many shades of brown) are typical of Death Valley
This is it, Darwin Falls.  Was it worth the trip?
This is it, Darwin Falls. Was it worth the trip?

 

Beware the much-dreaded Hiker’s Eye

Snow Canyon State Park (Utah)

Can a mere state park be as nice as the national parks, particularly the five in Utah? In this case, perhaps not.  But perhaps it should be the sixth.

The West Canyon Road is an easy stroll through red rock country
The West Canyon Road is an easy stroll through red rock country
Looking back down the the canyon reveals wide open country in the distance
Looking back down the the canyon reveals wide open country in the distance
Along the way
Along the way
I found the texture of the rock here to be interesting
I found the texture of the rock here to be interesting
The Red Sands Trail is what it says it is.  The black rock must be lava.
The Red Sands Trail is what it says it is. The black rock must be lava.
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Here, the landscape is wide open. Going down the trail, the walls will move inward.
Two monoliths stand as a gateway (in my imagination)
Two monoliths stand as a gateway (in my imagination)

This trail was formerly called the Three Ponds Trail.  This is the first pond.

This trail was formerly called the Three Ponds Trail. This is the first pond.

This was far enough for me.  It was somewhere near the end of the trail.
This was far enough for me. It was somewhere near the end of the trail.