For four months our ears have missed the sounds of birds singing and our eyes haven't seen green for the same amount of time. Wow-the pinion pine trees seem as if they are giants after the low lying desert scrub brush; birds flying and chirping are delightful!
Previously located in the Sonoran desert, doves and hummingbirds reside during the winter.
Three of the North American Continent's ecosystems meet here At Mojave-Great Basin to the North, Sonoran to the South, and centrally located the Mojave. Once we set up camp here at Hole in the Wall, we were ready to explore. The preserve encompasses 1.6 million acres; so how in the world do we even begin to see it? There are hiking trails, 4 wheel drive avenues to adventure, and horseback. Going to the Visitors' Center first just makes sense. From there we selected an easy one mile loop that let us see petroglyphs, ground animals, and how the campground got its name-Hole in the Wall. Banshee Canyon resembles Swiss cheese. This is the hike requiring us to climb out using rings and foot holds mounted into the rock. That was just a little more difficult than anticipated as the holds are spaced farther apart than someone's short legs could span!
We prefer not to loose a minute of fun time. We traveled to Kelso Depot via 20 miles of dirt road. Over half of the Preserve has been declared Wilderness. Fields of vision are unlimited seeing cinder cones rising high above everything else, huge boulders which have been pushed upward as a result of volcanic action, lava fields including a lava tube we descended, traversing changing elevations every few miles-5,000' altitude being the highest we traveled.
I got off track so to speak-ha! The Great Mojave Road was the East-West travel corridor prior to the train. In 1924 Union-Pacific Railroad built this depot. Beautifully restored by the NPS, we enjoyed its museum quality. They make delicious berry smoothies, also, at the Kelso Beanery!
In addition to always going to a park's visitor center, we try not to miss the ranger led programs. They are a plethora of information. Mojave is known for its spectacular night sky. Indeed, it did not let us down. Visible were Orion, the Milky Way, Big Dipper, and many other galaxies.
By the way, do you know the difference between a National Park and a National Preserve? Hunting is allowed on a Preserve. As always, we meet up with interesting and friendly folks such as the young family who made sure we ascended the rings/mounts OK, the father/sons group who made sure we safely maneuvered the craggy and dark lave tube, the 3-4 full timers like us who enjoy swapping stories, etc.
You will like this next story. Prior to the ranger program, a California State Policeman, NPS law enforcement, the Ranger, and audience were discussing California residents lack of observing highway rules. Hold onto you hat-the most common park accident is roll overs on wash board roads going at speeds as high as 115 mps!!!!!!!! passing on double yellow lines on paved park roads!!!!!!!!!! Some in the audience thought it comical one would drive the speed limit. I wonder why be green when you are consuming large amounts of gas with emissions? My eyes saw fancy cars, fancy 4 wheel drive vehicles, ginormous gas prices and quite nice folks saying we are green when it suites and "there is no limit to Californians spending". My brain is still processing this info-see the smoke!