Red Rock Canyon & Nightmare Gulch

Well I’m embarrassingly behind in posting my adventures. How I’m able to keep you updated to all my overseas travels almost daily but fail to write about camping trips I took months ago I can’t understand. But let’s start the recap with how this year started for me – Red Rock Canyon State Park (CA).

IMG_6967

I had 4 days free over New Years weekend and I was craving the desert. I didn’t want to drive the whole 8 hours to Joshua Tree or the Mojave, and I found a little green dot on google maps called Red Rock Canyon State Park about 6 hours away instead. It had trails, a campground, and Joshua Trees. I was sold.

I left very early in the morning and listened to an old fashioned audiobooks like I used to do with my Mom on long drives. After getting off the main highway in Bakersfield and crossing over a ridge I practically threw myself a party when I saw the first little joshua trees scattered around the dry land. I don’t know why I love the desert so much because I grew up without out it, and the idea of its vastness scares me. But when I’m there, the very same vastness is comforting, not exposing. I had a wonderful discussion with my acupuncturist about this recently, but I still don’t quite understand it. But that makes the mystery of the desert even more addicting.

Because the forecast was for rain off and on all weekend I didn’t want to camp in the backcountry (with worries about flash floods) and so upon arrival at the park I picked one of maybe 50 empty campsites right alongside some spectacular sandstone cliffs. I don’t think they would allow development so close to formations like these now, but the area used to be a private hotel and then a campground before it was given to the state park system. There was a great horned owl roosting just to the left of my site, and he kept me up for a long while after sunset.

IMG_7273

After setting up camp I only had about an hour before sunset to wander around one of the shorter trails in the park and actually really enjoyed the little running streams from the rain. It’s a special thing to be in a desert rainstorm. Even more importantly, after being in the car all day it’s a very conscious, physical sensation to be outside again, seeing the sky above me and the ground below me in my periphery, moving at a footpace, the ears adjusting back to hearing the gentle sounds of nature after the turbulence of highway speed. It’s always important to remind the body of real life after the artificiality of the car.

IMG_6938 IMG_6943

I was planning a long hike the next day and stopped at the ranger station to get recommendations and to let her know where I would be, just in case. Rain was expected around 3 so I got up early for the 15 mile loop I picked through a slot canyon called “Nightmare Gulch.”

IMG_6973 IMG_6978As usual I didn’t see another human the whole time I was out there. The entire area is closed February 1 through July 1 to protect bird-of-prey nesting, and it has been closed to off-road vehicle use for awhile. I was kind of rushing through the slot canyon because I wanted to beat the rain expected later, but mostly I had the mountain lion scene from Homeward Bound in my head. I played music and sang as I walked because I’ve always heard that mountain lions don’t like noise (very non-prey sounding) and kept looking over my shoulder, but still loved the landscape and the isolation. I made the 4.4 miles in less than 2 hours.

IMG_6988 IMG_6994

After climbing gradually out at the top of the gulch I took a turn to follow a fenceline to the top of a ridge. I had a trail map (from the visitor center) but was astonished by how badly marked everything was. This isn’t a very highly trafficked State Park, and most of the people that do come are on ATVs, not on foot, so it isn’t ideal at footpace. I’m glad my compass is always in my pack because a few times I came to unmarked, unsigned intersections like this one:

IMG_7133

I couldn’t have gotten seriously lost because of the long sight-distances in the desert and how close attention I pay to landmarks and ridgelines when I’m out by myself, but it was still an interesting experience. I’m grateful for the orienteering I did with my family in the state park where I grew up!

IMG_7048 IMG_6999

I managed to make all the correct turns and headed back toward the road via Black Rock Canyon, which took my breath away in a different way than the Gulch had. The rock formations are bizarre and amazing out there in the middle of the desert.

IMG_7106 IMG_7127

You can tell that at this point the weather was changing quickly (just scroll up to see the cloudless blue skies I had earlier in the day). With many stops for snacks and photos, I just barely made it back to my car before the first fat rain drops started falling. Perfect timing.

Since I had started out so early in the day it was only early afternoon at that point, so after munching on a tuna sandwich I headed back out to the first stop where I had walked the night before, parked the car, opened the hatchback and took out my paints. I haven’t shared any of my artwork on this blog because I don’t take it too seriously and honestly most of it isn’t very good. I’ve been using mostly watercolors, and usually just paint imaginary birds and animals. I really don’t like painting landscapes because I’m just bad at them. So this time I challenged myself to be a lot less literal and just get the colors and feeling right. It’s funny looking at this painting without the background that it fits into, but thought I would share anyway, since now you’ve seen my inspiration.

IMG_7262

And that was my first day of 2017. I’m plotting a few big trips for this summer already so I have motivation to get this blog caught up soon! Happy New year 🙂

57 comments for “Red Rock Canyon & Nightmare Gulch

  1. Janet R Siegel
    March 4, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Amazing how many “off the beaten track”, breathtaking, public lands there are out in the West. Looks like you found a beauty. And, really, your painting captures the colors very nicely. I hope you will share more with your devoted fans!

  2. March 4, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Supercool watercolor!

  3. Deborah Kamradt
    March 5, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Hope you share your paintings in your blog…the one here really captures the essence of Inyan…the stone people

  4. February 5, 2021 at 11:04 am

    online pharmacy canada viagra online reviews 365pills generic viagra

  5. February 6, 2021 at 6:33 am

    viagra with dapoxetine pills drugs like viagra brand name viagra, canada

  6. February 6, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    Super ED Trial Pack mail order pharmacies national pharmacies online

  7. February 7, 2021 at 6:02 am

    discount pharmacy viagra on line pay pall australia viagra super active

  8. February 7, 2021 at 11:30 pm

    canada drugs direct board of pharmacy pharmacy online drugstore

  9. February 8, 2021 at 12:03 am

    cialis daily cialis promise program card get cialis to work

  10. February 8, 2021 at 9:07 am

    best online pharmacy has anyone in australia bought viagra online viagra gold bestellen

  11. February 16, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    viagra soft canada canada viagra buy viagra prescription

  12. March 15, 2021 at 7:32 am

    cbd oils cbd oil near me buy hemp oil hemp cbd

  13. May 12, 2021 at 2:41 am
  14. May 12, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    cialis paypall http://ucialisdas.com/ – buy cialis cheap genuine cialis no prescription

  15. May 12, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    essay editapaper.com writing service how to write a paper how to write a good essay

  16. May 12, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    writes your essay for you do homework essay writer online

  17. May 12, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    help with homework essaytyper dissertation help paper writer generator

  18. May 12, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    how to write essay essay college essay writing service do homework

  19. May 12, 2021 at 9:40 pm

    easy essay writer how to do your homework good narrative essay help

  20. May 16, 2021 at 3:55 am

    easy essay writer essay bot how to write a good essay free essay writer

  21. May 19, 2021 at 8:56 am

    Imuran canadian rx world pharmacy india

  22. June 1, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    corner drug store canada drugs fax number sav on pharmacy store locator

  23. June 4, 2021 at 1:26 am

    pharmacy programs online canadian international pharmacy association viagra walmart neighborhood store pharmacy

  24. June 4, 2021 at 5:12 am

    modafinil 200mg https://modafinilltop.com/ – buy modafinil provigil cost buy provigil online

  25. June 8, 2021 at 12:51 am

    slot games free casino vegas casino slots

  26. June 22, 2021 at 12:23 am
  27. July 1, 2021 at 4:03 am
  28. July 10, 2021 at 10:51 pm
  29. July 27, 2021 at 3:05 pm
  30. July 28, 2021 at 11:03 pm
  31. August 5, 2021 at 6:35 am

    chloroquine side effects hydroxychloroquine side effects

  32. August 13, 2021 at 11:34 pm

    hydroxychloroquine uses https://plaquenilx.com/# what are the side effects of taking hydroxychloroquine?

  33. Leona Russ
    September 16, 2021 at 2:05 am

    zyloprim maxolon elocon

  34. September 16, 2021 at 5:38 am

    I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet people, its really really good
    piece of writing on building up new website.

  35. Frances Ruiz
    September 17, 2021 at 3:05 am

    ceclor sildigra rogaine

  36. September 17, 2021 at 5:46 am

    This is a topic that is close to my heart…

    Thank you! Where are your contact details though?

  37. Fred Ramos
    September 17, 2021 at 8:37 am

    viagra remeron panadol

  38. Curtis Brown
    September 21, 2021 at 11:43 pm

    tenormin anafranil lunesta

  39. September 22, 2021 at 2:22 am

    I’ve been surfing online more than 2 hours today,
    yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did,
    the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  40. September 23, 2021 at 5:56 am

    It is the best time to make some plans for
    the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if
    I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or tips.
    Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article.

    I want to read even more things about it!

  41. October 12, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    does viagra work on women yahoo prix viagra 100 pharmacie

  42. November 23, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    plaquenil for covid19 does plaquenil take away the butterfly rash how long does it take plaquenil to start working for ra

  43. November 26, 2021 at 10:31 pm

    when to take cialis 5mg does female pink viagra work viagra para mujeres lowest price for viagra 100mg is viagra legal without a doctor prescription

  44. January 6, 2022 at 12:26 pm

    sostituto del viagra sandoz viagra quando il viagra si ferma in gola come si prende il viagra

  45. January 18, 2022 at 1:39 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *