Our friends Bill and Pat Koss continue to share their Snowbird experiences with our readers. Settle in and enjoy a taste of Arizona adventure with them here…
Today we went on the last planned hike of the season here at Imperial Dam. The weather is a bit too hot for comfortable hiking but today we had a nice breeze so it was not too bad.
The highlight of the outing was our snake sightings. The first rattler was in thick brush in the bottom of a narrow wash. Luckily the snake and ourselves observed the normal rules of engagement. The snake rattled and hissed as we approached its position, we could not see it at this point. Right on cue we beat a hasty and somewhat less than dignified retreat to a safe distance and then waited a few minutes for the snake to settle down. The snake now satisfied that we had been sufficiently chastened for disturbing its peace and quiet saw fit to slide off the trail to let us pass. We ventured forward with some hesitation and were rewarded with the sight of it slowly moving into the rocks on the edge of the wash. We passed by quite closely but it paid us no heed and we continued on with our hike.
On our way back to the truck we came down into a broad sandy wash with a lot of trees and shrubs in it. The two hikers in the lead stopped to chat and wait for the rest of us in the shade of a large Palo Verde tree, right beside them a big rattler started hissing and rattling. Unfortunately they were so engaged in their conversation they did not hear it. Pat caught up to them and hearing those distinctive noises yelled “snake” they both beat a hasty retreat away from the tree and the snake quickly disappeared into a hole. I guess his confidence was a little shaken when the initial warning did not have its intended effect.
Although many may find it hard to believe, it is a rare and special privilege to observe a rattle snake in its natural habitat. I do think however two in one day is more than enough of the wonders of nature for a while. The evenings are warm enough now that the crawly guys will be out at night also, so a little extra caution is required when stepping out in the dark.
We are finally on the road again. It seemed to take forever to pull up our roots and get back in travelling mode. We left our winter digs on Monday and made it all the way to Parker, maybe a hundred and twenty miles.
Stopped at the Municipal Park for the night to do a favour for some friends. We stayed the night and met some nice folks from Chicago. They are an interesting couple and we got on quite well. Just to make the day a bit more interesting they locked themselves out of their trailer, a big old airstream. We tried all the break-in tricks we could think of but nothing worked. Luckily one of their windows was open so eventually the guy cut the screen and crawled through to unlock the door from the inside.
Now, today, we made another huge move, maybe eighty miles, and are camped in the Mohave National Wilderness. We missed the turn-off to the campgrounds we had intended to go to and ended up at Kelso Dunes instead. There is a turn of the century railroad station near here that has been refurbished by the parks department and we spent an hour or so touring around looking at the exhibits. We asked one of the park rangers about camping and it turns out we were about sixty miles from the nearest designated camping area. The ranger explained to us that we are allowed to park anywhere in the area that was an existing fire ring and proceeded to tell us about the best ones nearest to where we wanted to go.
So now we are camped, for free, in this beautiful national park next to the Kelso Dunes – group of huge sand dunes, the highest almost seven hundred feet tall and stretching for several miles in length. Heard the dunes “singing” last night, sort of a low humming like a small plane a long way off. Not quite as romantic as one might expect but still neat to hear. Having had such good luck with the folks at the BLM we stopped in Ridgecrest at their office and asked a bunch of questions about hiking and camping. The fellow was really pleasant and gave us lots of
pamphlets and maps for this area. We are set up at a place called Fossil Falls. A long time ago a huge lava flow poured down the valley. Much later the Owen River carved a canyon and falls into the rock. Then came the city of Los Angeles and stole all the water and dried up the falls. So now you can hike down this amazing canyon carved into the basalt and see all the weird shapes and holes the water carved out of the rock. Definitely worth a day or two of exploring.
Fossil Falls had one last treat for us before we left. Yesterday evening after we had settled in for the night the wind started to blow.
The trailer was set up pretty much in line with the wind so we were not in any danger of a rollover but it felt like it nonetheless. We pulled in the slide to save the slide cover and that helped a bit with the noise but it still sounded like we were underneath a rolling freight train. Somehow the gritty sand worked its way into the trailer and coated everything. Ever wake up in the morning with genuine sand in your eyes? The morning light chased the wind away and things quieted down once the coffee was ready. We hiked out to the falls for a few more pictures and then packed up and headed out. Short drive today, only about fifty miles but we are in this amazing place near Lone Pine. The campsite is on the desert plain below the towering Sierra Nevada Mountains.
We wandered around and took a few pictures and then naturally started talking to this nice lady from Colorado. She asked us where we spent the winter and when we told her she asked “do you know Russ”? We said “Russ on the Road, sure”. Turns out they had hippy hopped all across the southern US with Russ. We told her about our last hike at Imperial Dam and the two Rattlesnakes that Russ tried to get pictures of. She had a good laugh and told us one of her snake stories and then took out her IPad and texted Russ. He answered right away and said hi to us. The world just keeps getting smaller. The lady’s husband showed up, turns out they are photographers, we chatted a bit about Vancouver Island and he showed us some of his pictures from…..wait for it…….Campbell River. Their son is a forester on the island and they have been out to visit a few times. Anyway, we may get together with them for a bit tomorrow.
We’ll continue with the second part of the Koss Arizona adventure soon….stay tuned!