Oh! I thought it was going to be dry all day today but there was an early afternoon surprise from the weather wizard.
Our wandering spot for today was Valley of Fire State Park. It's a very reasonable drive, a bit over an hour each way. We headed out early in the morning under a sky colored (mostly) blue and white. When we arrived at the park there the sun was hiding behind some clouds. It popped in and out, sometimes lighting the beautiful red rocks, sometimes leaving a somewhat muted landscape.
After a quick stop at the Visitor Center we headed up and up, following the out-and-back road through red rocks as it followed a curving path through the landscape, rolling up and down and side to side. We stopped at most of the little parking lots along the way, popping out of the car to absorb the beauty.
At the end of (the short) Fire Canyon Road there was a path that wore a sign "This is not a trail". Hmm... Denise looked a little further and found a blocked off dirt road that we could walk down for some new views. From the road we saw a trail coming back but since Denise was pretty sure it was going to end at the sign saying it wasn't a trail we stuck to the dirt road. While it's OK to walk on rocks, on established trails, or on the roads (dirt or paved), the park service is trying to prevent erosion wherever possible.
Our next stop was the Fire Wave trail. That's a very cool hike, and one where you need to pay attention to the trail markers. The beginning of the trail is easy to find since it traverses sand, but once you step onto the rock it's important to know how to find your way (both out and back again). The trail is marked with plastic (rectangular) wands that are sometimes stuck in the ground and sometimes surrounded by piled up rocks. The top of the dark brown wand wears a square of yellow. It's usually pretty easy to see the next trail marker. I helped Denise keep track of them since I know she likes to know how to get back at the end of our walks. I'm very glad that Denise likes walking the Fire Wave trail as much as I do!
We continued to the end of the road where we stared walking the White Domes trail. The start of the trail is a sandy steep downhill with some rock slabs serving as steps. The steps were pretty big so I decided to jump into the Denise's camera pack and take a ride down. Once we reached the low point of the trail I jumped out so I could bounce through the slot canyon through which the trail wanders. Then... oops! I started feeling rain drops. It started as sprinkles but it quickly turned into a downpour. I jumped back into the pack, and so did the camera, yikes! Denise covered the bag with a rain cover and started walking quickly. We were about half of the way around the 1.25 mile trail so there was nothing to be done except keep moving forward. Of course since we didn't think it was going to rain Denise's rain jacket stayed in the car. She had a light jacket with her but it was a jacket without a hood. By the time we got back to the car the water was rolling off of her head. I tried not to laugh, but it was really pretty funny! Soon after we jumped into the car the rain changed to sprinkles.
Turning back, we again stopped whenever the light and scenery pulled Denise's eyes.
Before we left Valley of Fire we saw an announcement for a special New Year's Eve moonlight hike in the park. I wish we could be there but it's really too far to fly here for a day.
Even though Denise got a bit wet we had a really good day today.
on the way back from The Wave, at Valley of Fire State Park