Monday, November 27, 2017

A Trip to Crystal Peak

 My brother was in town and wanted an adventure, so we headed out to Crystal Peak. This is a small mountain made of Tunnel Springs Tuff, about 33 million years old. The light colored rock really reflects the light, so on summer afternoons, it looks like the mountain is glowing. In the winter, the sun is in the south, so we don't get the same effect, but up close, the mountain is still beautiful.

Desert Girl really wanted to find some fossils, and along the south side of the mountain, the tuff meets up with the highly fossiliferous Kanosh Shale. It didn't take long for the rock hammer to come out!

We started seeing some fossils, mainly brachiopods.

But then we found some different fossils (maybe a cephalapod?).

 We weren't sure what caused the iron intrusion next to these brachiopods.

We kept going higher to see if we could make it to the summit. I remembered doing it a few years ago  and had conveniently forgotten all the hard parts. (That's one of my skills for going back to unpleasant caves.) I had also forgotten the right landmarks. I should have read my 2014 Crystal Peak blog post, which conveniently shows the easiest way up to the summit. We started up a gully.

We had some spectacular views of the Burbank Hills, the distant Snake Range including Wheeler Peak, and the Flat Ferguson Desert. We also had a scary climb. The tuff is not a solid rock, and handholds and footholds will suddenly break.

Desert Boy had elected to wait below with the dog, but Desert Girl was ready for a challenge.

Ed made it to the top! Well, the top of one part of the mountain. It wasn't the tippy top because I had led us up the wrong gully, but the views were still awesome.

We decided that was good enough for the day, and started heading down. Down is actually much harder than up--back to that rock crumbling part.

The interesting hollows in the rock are called tafoni. I only know that because I read my 2014 blog post. :)

It seemed like we went down a long, long time.

Looking through a tafoni window towards a peak to the south. Yeah, I have to get a little artsy fartsy sometime.

The true peak is up above the nearly sheer cliff just right of center in the photo below.

We met up with Desert Boy and Maggie. Desert Boy had been in a bad mood, but the rest had cured him, and now he was happy.

The late afternoon light was magnificent, highlighting the shadows on the mountain. This peak is full of challenges, and I'm sure we'll be back! If you want to see and read more about this peak, check out the 2014 post and the 2009 post.
Still have to teach the dog how to sit still for a photo and not come to me!

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