Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Sunday Ramble in the Burbank Hills

 A recent Sunday took us to a random road in the Burbank Hills, a set of hills that "only" gains about 2,700 feet elevation, topping out about 7,700 feet. Out here, that means the moniker of hills rather than mountains. (As a comparison, the tallest peak east of the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. is Harney Peak in South Dakota, at 7.242 feet.)

We drove until the road (a barely discernible two track, but one that had been already traveled this year) ended. Then we got out and hiked. The kids weren't super thrilled, but we promised them great views.

 When we reached the top of a ridge, we sure did get great views.

 The Burbank Hills aren't really known for any main attraction. They consist of limestones and dolomites, so the rain that falls on them seeps in and there aren't any streams or even any springs. In recent years, a number of roads have been designated as ATV trails (map here). With 98 miles of trails, it's a considerable network, but due to the remoteness and lack of a charismatic attraction, it is seldom visited.

It's nice to have places like that, where the plants and animals can be the dominant creatures. I was quite excited to see this early bloomer:
 Spiny phlox, Phlox hoodii

Then Desert Boy and I started finding some hints that these flowers hadn't been around all that long (at least geologically speaking).
 We found some fossils.

 The fossils were small, but good reminders that this area used to be part of a shallow sea.

 Desert Girl started enjoying the hike more and more. That's fairly common--we may have crabby kids at the beginning of a hike, but once something catches their attention, they forget about their previous attitude.

Then we reached something that made both kids very happy.
 A patch of snow!

 Our dog Henry really liked it too.

 Eating some snow made the kids so happy that even when Desert Boy fell and sprawled across some sagebrush, he smiled.

 The hillside had a number of stumps, and we found some burn signs on some of them. At one point a forest fire must have burned this section of Burbank Hills, but today, unless you know what to look for, you wouldn't know it.

We took a different way back to the truck and I was happy to find a mini-cave. No one wanted to pose for a photo except me. I guess it was time to go! There are still so many other places to explore in this one little mountain range. Hopefully we'll get back before too long.

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