Continued from the previous page.
SEEKING COLOR IN SMALL PLACES
Since so much of the desert in this area is shades of brown, I soon developed a good eye while
hiking for smaller things like rocks that had more visible colors, textures, or
Nice variety of colors, including
greens and purples
There are a lot of these
two-tone rocks in the LTVA and nearby desert.
Interesting pattern on the brown
rock; I like all the colors in the little rocks.
The desert has a couple dozen fewer colorful rocks in it now; I
added some small ones to my collection. The colors are even more intense when they
are wet -- which is rare in the desert.
Many of the rocks in the desert west of the LTVA are black, have
numerous perforations in them, and appear to be volcanic. There are also
a lot of dark brown rocks that look like shiny leather. One hill even
has a lot of small sage-colored rocks and looks green from a distance.
By February and March, more trees and shrubs had bright green leaves;
there were also some subtle wildflowers and bright beavertail cactus blooms. I'll
feature more of them in a subsequent entry.
Ocotillo in bloom the second week of March
Colorful beavertail cactus blooms
By mid-March, trees lining Senator Wash Reservoir
had noticeably brighter green leaves.
Most days when we were riding through the LTVA in our vehicles or on
our bikes, or hiking outside its
boundaries, we saw small groups of wild burros. Dozens of them live in
this desert area.
They came right up to
our campsite when we stayed there in 2012 but they are more skittish
when they see hikers, especially hikers with dogs, coming on the trails.
Sometimes I used the zoom features on my cameras to get better close-ups
but usually just relied on being able to crop 16- or 24-megapixel shots
without using the zoom.
They look so docile and sweet!
These cuties are a little more shaggy.
Sometimes while hiking I had to look really hard to see the burros in
the distance because their gray and white colors are good camouflage in
the surrounding rocks.
The two guys in the next picture probably saw me moving up the trail
long before I spotted them:
Ferguson Road goes out the western side of the LTVA and heads northwest
from Forest Service Road #699 for eight or nine miles to Ferguson Lake
through some very hilly but scenic terrain.
On my longest ride out there, 15 miles total, my GPS recorded over
3,200 feet elevation gain and loss -- all between only 173 to 474
feet in elevation! It's a real roller-coaster.
Here's my GPS track and profile from that ride. I cut off the
profile at 8 miles so you can see the numbers better; the red
mark I added is the turnaround point:
I took the photos in this section on five different treks out the
road, four by bike and once in a neighbor's 4WD car.
The road is sand/gravel/rock and better suited to a high-clearance
and/or 4WD vehicle than a 2WD vehicle. It is narrow and dusty, with a few
long or steep grades. Most of it is undulating:
One of the longer hills near
the beginning of the road outside the LTVA
Looking back toward the LTVA
from the top of the first big hill
Blooming ocatillo cactus (red
flowers) and creosote bushes (yellow) in March
Jim pedals up a short but steep hill
View from a hill at about 3
One of many scenic desert and
mountain views along this road, about 5 miles past the LTVA
View NW from a long grade up to
the high point on the road; I think the distinctive
peaks in the distance are in
Picacho State Park or the Picacho Peak Wilderness.
Road up to a large parking area
on the highest bluff along Ferguson Rd., about 6 miles from the LTVA
Folks love to ride their ATVs and Jeeps on this road:
Group of older folks on ATVs at
the high bluff
It's also fun for bicycles, as long as there isn't too much motor
vehicle traffic raising dust. Most people were very considerate the
times I rode my bike.
The panoramic views about six miles from the edge of the LTVA -- from a
bluff high above the Colorado River, Ferguson and Martinez Lakes, the
Imperial Wildlife Refuge, a Marine Corps recreation area, and the small
town of Martinez Lake -- are well worth the effort to get out
there by whatever mode of transportation you take:
My TriCross cyclo-cross bike
leaning against a cairn on the high bluff
Expansive view to the NE from
the bluff, which is about 300 feet above the Colorado River
View toward the town of
Martinez Lake, with Yuma Proving Ground land
and the Castle Dome Mountain
Range beyond it; all that is in Arizona.
Above and below: view N
and NW toward the Painted Desert Trail area
of the Imperial Wildlife
Refuge, also on the Arizona side of the river
I usually stopped at the bluff, enjoyed the views, then turned
around without going to the end of the road because it was about a
300-foot drop down to the lake. I could see how steep parts of the road
are and didn't want to have to walk my bike back up.
The one time Jim rode out with me on his bike we did continue
another mile down to about a hundred feet above river/lake
Jim rides ahead of me on his bike
as we coast down toward the river.
I zoomed the camera in on this
small 5th-wheel trailer parked by the water.
However, we didn't go all the way to the end of the road, where
there is reportedly a private fish camp. We stopped when we got to a
short but very steep hill:
No thanks; we had enough other
climbing to do in another 7½ miles
back to the car.
The arrow marks a building at
the fishing camp at the end of the road.
Near that hill we set our bikes down, walked out on a ridge with
some trails, enjoyed the views from this lower perspective while we ate
a snack, then headed back up the long grade to the high bluff:
Another view toward the town of
Martinez Lake, AZ
Arrow marks the visitor center
at the Imperial Wildlife Refuge across the river in Arizona.
I also showed Ferguson Road to one of our neighbors right after
she bought a 4WD Suzuki Sidekick and was eager to take it for a spin.
She enjoyed all the scenic views and driving on the roller-coaster road.
Next entry: the Painted Desert Trail and other
scenes from the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2016 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil