Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Visitors and Ice Cream Social

 We had some guests come to visit recently and we started off by going to the ice cream social at the annual Snake Valley Festival. Nothing like some cool ice cream at the end of a hot day!

These friendly ladies were dishing up generous scoops of delicious flavors.

Yum! says one attendee.

To make things even better, local musicians played on the lawn, making the event feel very relaxed. People hung out a long time, enjoying the music, chatting, and of course eating ice cream!

There was also an opportunity to buy 50:50 tickets for the next day's raffle. They sold over $900 worth of tickets, making for a nice pot.

It was a great way to start the visit.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Globemallow Explosion

 A friend posted about the amazing globemallow out in the desert, so I took a drive out one day to go check it out. She was right, it was spectacular. The desert floor was orange as far as the eye could see.

I had fun taking some photos.

Some cool old cars went by on the highway.

Globemallow usually blooms in the spring, but last year it bloomed in October. I guess it takes advantage of moisture. We had a really wet May, so that must have helped make this such a beautiful globemallow season.

It's always such a treat to get a beautiful offering from the normally drab-colored desert.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Taking Kids up Wheeler Peak

A few of us moms decided we wanted to hike Wheeler Peak and in the course of discussion we decided to take some kids with us. So we chose a date, packed up, and hit the trail. It's about 3,000 foot elevation gain and 4.3 miles to the summit of Wheeler Peak.

We're all smiles as we cruise the nearly flat trail through the aspens.

I had my good camera and couldn't help but take a lot of photos. The curve of the aspens mesmerized me. They bend like this because winter snows weigh down their trunks.

A bit farther on we tried for a group photo, although the timer barely gave us enough time to get into position! The 13,063 foot peak still looks far away.

As we cruised up to treeline, we paused to take a look at Stella Lake. By this point it was already looking pretty small.

We hit patches of snow and had some snow ball fights.

Soon we were above treeline and seeing more snow on the edge of the ridge.

The forecast was for a windy day, and as we hiked up the ridge, we felt it. We promised the kids that once we got to the big flattish ridge we would stop for lunch.

We found a huge wind shelter and plopped down. It took us about 2.5 hours to get here, and I remembered that this spot was about half-way time-wise to the top.

We put on extra layers as it was getting colder. We knew it was 90 degrees down in the valley, so it was nice to be somewhere cool.

After lunch the trail got much steeper as we started gaining elevation faster.

Desert Boy had been whining quite a lot on the hike, so finally I asked him about his video games. Wow, what a switch! He suddenly was full of all sorts of information about them and kept talking and talking while he was climbing and climbing, and then all of a sudden we were at the western summit. The last part of the trail was covered in snow, so we had to just scramble up the ridge.

We carefully made our way along the snow and enjoyed the views to the south.

The kids signed us into the trail register.

Hurray for moms! One hiker (in shorts and Chacos) had turned back because of all the snow and high winds, but we persisted and made it. The wind wasn't particularly strong at the summit, but I got knocked down a couple times on the ridge right before it. The weather forecast was calling for afternoon gusts of 50 mph.

We decided to savor the top and take some photos. Here I am with Desert Boy. He kept saying he was never going to climb the peak again. (Now he says he will, but in a few years.)

Can you spot the three lakes? Stella and Teresa are blue, but Brown Lake is, well, brown. It's not a cirque lake, but in the moraine and very shallow.

We left the kids by the mailbox and hiked down the summit ridge towards Jeff Davis Peak. Here's Jenny hanging out over the edge.

 Here's the view to the southeast, looking at False Pyramid Peak, Pyramid Peak, and Baker Peak.

Down below to the north we could see the rock glacier.

When we got back to the kids, Desert Boy was feeling some altitude sickness. So we started descending right away. Next time it would be better if we camped the night before at Wheeler Peak campground (about 10,000 ft) so he would have more time to acclimatize.

We couldn't hear each other talk on the way down because the wind was so strong. So we kept going with very short breaks for the next hour and a half. Finally we reached treeline and Desert Boy felt better.

He started talking up a storm.

As we were back in the meadows, we looked at the faraway peak. Had we really climbed it?
For those hiking with kids and planning a trip, it took us 5.5 hours to get up, we spent 0.5 hours at the top, and it took 3 hours to get back to the trailhead. We could probably have done it a little faster if it wasn't so windy, as we took a break at nearly every wind shelter on the way up.

Monday, June 22, 2015

June Full Moon Hike

 Great Basin National Park holds full moon hikes during the summer, and we had never been so I took Desert Boy to the one in early June. We had to get tickets to attend the event, and we got the last one at about 2 in the afternoon. This is a popular hike!

As we drove up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, we were treated to some beautiful evening views.

The summit trailhead parking lot was full. Before long Ranger Steve started the program. It was colder than we thought it would be--30 degrees cooler than the valley bottom, hence all the coats you see in the photo. It was still rather light, but we would have a leisurely stroll to Stella Lake with stops--and no lights.

The aspens hadn't yet started budding out. At our stops we learned about various things. One of the coolest things was looking at the earth's shadow as our planet spun.

It's an interesting experience going on a hike with 40 other people.

Desert Boy had decked himself out with his junior ranger paraphernalia, and before long we were hanging out with the rangers at the end of the group. Steph graciously answered all sorts of Desert Boy's questions and kept him entertained.

It was fun seeing the moon appear over the horizon.

I kept stopping to take photos of it and switching lenses to try to capture it best for the Full Moon Challenge.

As we hiked, the appearance of the moon kept changing.

When we got to Stella Lake, the moon was hidden behind the ridge. But it gradually rose, lighting up the snow-covered slopes of Wheeler Peak.

And then the moon crested the ridge, reflecting in the lake.

It was a fun experience, and we'd love to go on more moonlit hikes without flashlights.

Have you ever been on a full moon hike? July has two full moons, July 1 and July 31.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

First Hike of Summer Vacation

 On Desert Boy's first day of summer vacation, I took the morning off so we could go for a hike while Desert Girl went to her last day of preschool. We invited some friends and started at the gravel pit. The kids ran free and migrated to the steep slopes.

They thought it was so much fun to be able to climb where ever they wanted and then slide down.

I climbed up one side for an overview of the gravel pit and the hill we were going to climb.

When we started off on our hike, it quickly turned into a lizard hunting expedition.

The baby horned lizards weren't too hard to catch.

As soon as they let one lizard go, they would find another to chase.

These collared lizards are really neat looking.

I am always impressed by how well the horned lizards blend in with their environment.

We managed to keep moving uphill despite the numerous lizards.

And then we were all at the top!

Aidan wanted to go check out the nearby peak.

The clouds were building, so we didn't stay up there too long.

We took a slightly different way down and found these neat fossils.

The kids also took the time to stop and smell the desert cacti flowers.

And found bones.

It was a wonderful hike. We got back just in time for the last ten minutes of recess.

The graduating preschoolers stood together with new bags of goodies from their teacher.

And here's Teacher Gwendy with them. She's had such a big influence on them, starting off their academic careers. These three are very well prepared for kindergarten, knowing all their letters and even sounding out words, writing numbers and doing some simple arithmetic. The best part is that they can't wait to do more. And I'm so appreciative of preschool because they've learned how to share and get along with their peers. And only take one activity out of a time and put it away before getting out the next one.
Thanks so much, Teacher Gwendy!
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