We met the "Second Shift," Clark and Jo Ann, at Split Mountain Road in Ocotillo Wells. Then we drove SW on Fish Creek Wash through the Split Mountain Gorge.
Continuing our drive SW through Split Mountain Gorge.
We turned right into North Fish Creek and explored Oyster Shell Wash.
The sun was beginning to set when we returned to Fish Creek and began driving up Loop Wash looking for a campsite.
As we sat in our camp chairs after dinner, talking and watching for shooting stars I inadvertently painted with light. The coolest event of the night was when Jo Ann said that she wanted to see a shooting star and just as she was finishing her sentence a bright long lasting meteor blazed across the sky.
Dawn at our Loop Wash Camp.
Seems like the temperature dropped below freezing during the night. I was thinking that Clark and Jo Ann were pleased that they brought winter bags.
After breakfast we drove to another location and went looking for petrified wood. Clark and I walked for hundreds of yards and found nothing.
Except a small can about half the size of a tuna tin.
Jo Ann and Jan quickly found a few specimens.
Sal and Debra stopped by and joined us on our quest for petrified wood.
Soon we found larger pieces.
The farther we walked from the road the more we discovered and all of it is still where we found it.
Our next destination was Sandstone Canyon but upon seeing a group of vehicles enter the canyon we decided to avoid a certain traffic jam and drove on to Olla Wash.
A closer view of the Mud Palisades of Olla Wash.
After exploring more of Fish Creek Wash we returned to Sandstone Canyon.
The walls of the canyon got higher.
The walls of the canyon got narrower.
Until we reached the end of the road at a large rockfall.
Looks like others have pushed past the rock fall but we aren't going any farther without a Unimog.
At one of the narrow sections Jan remarked that it was good that we were driving a FWC instead of a large truck camper. I answered that passing through the overhanging walls would be difficult with a large hardside camper but it would make for some great photographs.
Clark and Jo Ann heading out of the canyon.
Layer Cake Rock.
At our campsite I attempted to create some of Ron's light painting wizardry. Thank you Clark for patiently lighting your tent during the 30 second exposure.
The dawn of the new day breaks over the horizon bathing the hills behind our camp with color.
The instant the sun hits camp Clark can be seen warming himself in its rays.
Soon we are all out in the sun eating breakfast and reading. I found it somewhat comical that four people who many times in their pasts have risen well before dawn to climb high mountains* now sit in the sun for several hours reading. But, the warm sun felt so good on my old, cold bones. *(To explain: Clark has been on the summit of Mt. Whitney at least seven times (he said it would be nine but didn't know if landing by helicopter as part of SAR missions should count) and on the top of numerous other Sierra/Cascade peaks including multiple summits of Rainer, Jan has five 14'ers and many 13'ers in her list of more than 150 mountains in California and Colorado, and Jo Ann has climbed many peaks in California and Nevada including Mt. Whitney. Jo Ann would have made Whitney a second time when hiking the JMT but was driven back from the summit by a severe lightning storm. I have strolled to the airy summit of Obsidian Butte near the Salton Sea which towers over the surrounding landscape at an elevation of 130 feet below sea level.)
Around 11 AM we packed up camp and began our drive out of Fish Creek Wash.
We noticed how high the flood waters of the last flash flood left debris in the trees. The high point of the water was above the top of our truck.
One on many signs in the park almost buried by the numerous flash floods.
The Split Mountain Gorge Anticline. The upside down U makes it an anti, if it was right side up it would be a syncline. I know this because when a teenager in the 1960's drilling rigs appeared on several farms north of my father's parents place. Several of the farms sat on top of a large anticline that contained oil. No such geologic feature under my grandfather's farm. The neighbors became wealthy and purchased new cars for the grandchildren. I was asked if I wanted the old Dodge that was rusting away behind the barn and was told, "if you can get it running it's yours." Anticline! I haven't forgotten.
Panorama of Split Mountain Gorge.
One last photograph of the second shift crew driving through Split Mountain Gorge. Clark and Jo Ann were headed west to the Slot and Jan and I were headed east to Westmorland.