Hiking At Gold Strike Hot Springs

My oldest son took me hiking a couple of weeks ago during his leave after graduating from Marine boot camp. I can’t believe this awesome hike existed around here and I never even knew it was there!

It’s a narrow trail that winds down a desert canyon outside of Boulder City, not far from Hoover Dam. There are frequent big drops along boulders that must be carefully scaled–many have ropes in place to help hikers safely navigate the rocky dips that are too far to jump.

But it’s absolutely worth it. The hike itself is a worthy challenge for experienced and agile hikers, the hot springs along the way are impressive, and the end of the trail–at the edge of the Colorado river–is flat out gorgeous.

We began in the early morning darkness, and the trail was empty–we didn’t see anybody until we started back to the start. It was a fantastic way to spend a morning.

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Sunrises and Sunsets, From Sea and Sky

Sunrise at sea, on the Caribbean, Thursday, April 13, 2017:

 

Sunset st sea, on the Caribbean, Thursday, April 13, 2017:

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Two Nice Student Notes

One class recently finished a unit on Romanticism. After a couple of days on Transcendentalism, I sent them out into our quad to take notes on as much “nature” as they could find there, with directions to imitate the style of Thoreau. The last section of the notes focused on drawing life lessons from these observations, like Thoreau did in Walden.

One girl turned in her notes with this awesome little addendum at the end. Clearly, she got the point. I drew the smiley face.

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Another girl turned hers in with this attachment:

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The Waterfall at Ice Box Canyon

This week my family and I spent a few hours hiking through Ice Box Canyon at Red Rock to see the seasonal waterfall. It’s fed by melting snow and, since this winter has been especially rainy here (and snowy in the mountains), we figured it would be strong this year. In fact, it was so strong that half the trail was flooded and we had to leapfrog and wade our way in!

Totally worth it, though. Here are some shots at the end.

[I also wrote about this hike eight years ago.]

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Vegas Skies

Some more recent local sky views:

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Sunrise just started touching the mountains to the west.

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Sunset 4.11.16 part 1 of 5. Thomas Cole could have painted this.

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2 of 5

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3 of 5

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4 of 5

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5 of 5

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A sunset last week, by Aliante Station

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Heading east on Cheyenne, late afternoon sun catches one small mountain.

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Darn you, Savers sign! This was almost epic.

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This Week at the Valley of Fire

On the pro side, our family camp out Monday and Tuesday provided lots of great scenery, sun, and exercise. We all climbed and hiked like crazy, including the baby. The temperature was perfect. The landscapes were majestic. The together time was fun.

On the con, a huge wind storm blew dirt in our faces and broke my biggest tent. The fabric ripped, half the poles snapped, and the metal hardware that connects the poles to the tent fabric was actually broken in half! Never seen anything like it. And we got orange sand all over our stuff. Guess Anakin Skywalker was right about that junk after all.

On balance, a great experience, though!

We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and Titanic features….We need to witness our own limits transgressed.” –Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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13 Pictures of Death Valley

I took these pictures with my phone’s camera during a spontaneous family vacation this last weekend.

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Sunset from Zabriskie Point, January 1, 2016

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Cloudy afternoon at Mesquite Sand Dunes, January 2, 2016

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Cloudy afternoon at Golden Canyon, January 2, 2016

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Golden Canyon, January 2, 2016. Here, I love the contrasting brightness of the three triangles in the composition. I like the vertical shot for a similar reason.

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Late afternoon through the clouds from a narrow passage in Golden Canyon, January 2, 2016

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Sunset from Golden Canyon, January 2, 2016

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Looking out over Death Valley at dusk from Artist Drive, January 2, 2016

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David Grayson’s Under My Elm

elm 1#1162 in Life’s Little Instruction Book says: “Try to find a copy of the book Under My Elm by David Grayson (Doubleday, 1942). You might have to order it.

I did have to order it.  Here are the passages I marked:

 
I don’t know what it is, but there is something about steady manual labor like this, alone in the fields, that gives one a curious deep satisfaction. I like the sense of doing hard work that is also useful work. One’s mind at first drops asleep, except for the narrow margin relating to this or that repetitive process. One lets go, calms down. For hours, sometimes, while at such work, I came near the point of complete mental vacuity. The mind sets itself the minute task it has to do and goes off somewhere to its own high pastures, serene uplands, to rest and play. The hours pass magically: the sun that was low when the work began rides high in the heavens—and suddenly the mind comes home again. It comes home refreshed stimulated, happy. I always know the exact moment of its arrival. Yesterday it did not return until I had nearly finished my work in the field. It seemed to cry out: “What, asleep! Listen to the bobolinks.”
I straightened up quickly and realized that I had been working for several hours without hearing or seeing much of anything—this literally. The whole world now became flooded with delightful sounds, not only the bobolinks, but a hundred other voices both of nature and human nature, so that I had a deep and indescribably friendly feeling towards all things. I thought it good and beautiful to be there and to be alive. Even the grass clinging wetly to my legs as I walked seemed consciously holding me close to the earth; and the shovel held warmly, even painfully in my blistered hands, was proof that I had at last become part of a universal process. These sensations, even as I set them down, seem difficult to express, but they were there, and they were true and sound. (11-12)

 

elm 2Steve had been working all day, harrowing and fertilizing his tobacco land, and should, I suppose, be properly tired. But the weeds in the onions are growing! Down on his knees he went and began weeding. A moment later his wife was at his side. The children cried a little, for they were tired and hungry and wanted to go home, but soon whimpered down. I wondered what an American family I know of, which keeps a nurse for each of their weakling children and a second girl to help the nurses, would say to this way of “raising” children! These two little Poles are magnificent physical specimens, and the boy, when clean, is really beautiful. At eight-thirty when it was too dark to see, the family trailed homeward, Steve carrying the little boy in his arms. Can these people be beaten? (86-87)

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Light and Color in Layers at Red Rock Canyon

Took several of my children hiking at Red Rock Canyon this morning.  My favorite pictures of the landscape are these two, showing mid-morning sunbeams streaming down over a lush desert vista, rolling out in layers.  This view is facing southeast from the highest point of the Keystone Thrush Trail.

 

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Of course, the whole family’s favorite view of the hike was this little critter.  I’ve lived here my whole life, and this is actually the first tarantula I’ve seen out in the desert:

 

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Late Summer 2014 Photos

Some of my favorites as I review the contents of my tablet from the last two months:

Sunset at North Las Vegas Stake Pioneer Day, Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sunset at North Las Vegas Stake Pioneer Day, Saturday, July 26, 2014

At Zion National Park, August 2014, approaching the Narrows.  In canyons, I like the contrast between high stone walls and sky.  Here, I also like the dark tone.

At Zion National Park, August 2014, approaching the Narrows. In canyons, I like the contrast between high stone walls and sky. Here, I also like the dark tone.

And here I like the bright tone.

And here I like the bright tone.

Great shade of blue in this one.

Great shade of blue in this one.

I like this view of receding canyon walls, lapping like waves.

I like this view of receding canyon walls, lapping like waves.

It was a cloudy day, which created some nice contrasts, such as here, with darkness in the foreground and light farther off.

It was a cloudy day, which created some nice contrasts, such as here, with darkness in the foreground and light farther off.

Preparing to splash around with the kids in the Virgin River.

Preparing to splash around with the kids in the Virgin River.

Directly above the previous picture.

Directly above the previous picture.

At Spring Mountain Ranch, west of Las Vegas, August 29, 2014.  We went to see a production of Shrek, and it was a ton of fun, but I always like the wait--standing out there just before sunset creates some excellent chances to see light streaming sideways through these mountains.

At Spring Mountain Ranch, west of Las Vegas, August 29, 2014. We went to see a production of Shrek, and it was a ton of fun, but I always like the wait–standing out there just before sunset creates some excellent chances to see light streaming sideways through these mountains.

And into this nearby field.

And into this nearby field.

Going...going...

Going…going…

A small pool created by the setting sun.

A small pool created by the setting sun.

Sun's almost done for the day, and the light rays are stronger now.

Sun’s almost done for the day, and the light rays are stronger now.

My favorite view of the Salt Lake Temple: Saturday, August 30, 2014.

My favorite view of the Salt Lake Temple: Saturday, August 30, 2014.

Sunrise on my way to work, Friday, September 5, 2014.

Sunrise on my way to work, Friday, September 5, 2014.

The horizon is giving birth  to a sun.

The horizon is giving birth to a sun.

Three John Muir Quotes

I noted these in a biography I read last year:

“The sun shines not on us but in us, as if truly part and parent of us. The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing…”  –journal, 1872.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul.”  –journal, (1888?)

“The American forests, however slighted by man, must surely have been a great delight to God; for they were the best he ever planted. The whole continent was a garden, and from the beginning it seemed favored above all the other wild parks and gardens of the globe.”  –first line of “The American Forests,” Atlantic Monthly, 1897

 

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God’s Art

The word “art” is related to words like “artifice” and “artificial,” which reminds us that art refers to things people create to represent beauty and other ideas.  All human art is, by definition, artificial.

But God’s art is natural.  A great example is below.  This is the photo used for the cover of the Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.  It’s a shot of Yosemite, California.  On our left is El Capitan, a vertical cliff well over half a mile high.  In the central distance is Half Dome rock.  On the left is Bridalveil fall, one of the most beautiful and popular falls in the U.S.

In this photo, mist covers the forest of the valley floor as the dawning sun first touches the highest points around it.

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