As I mentioned in an earlier post, we arrived in Pahrump, NV, during the government shutdown of 2013. Not sure what we’d find, we ventured out on a beautiful October day to explore Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Yep, there it was in black and white, on the Welcome sign:
Here’s a closer look at that simple sign:
Good thing we had a backup plan! And our hope that we’d still be in the area when the government re-opened (odd to think of a government as being closed…) was fulfilled, so a few weeks later we returned.
Interpretive trails aren’t ever as physically fun as scrambling around rocks and climbing hillsides, but they do provide perspective and history about a place, so sometimes we walk and read. Here we found the Leatherleaf Ash tree, the tree the refuge is named for, and found out that after near annihilation in the area the tree is coming back with concerted efforts in the refuge:
In the desert, every little pond is worth a photo, especially this one, home to a very special (but unphotogenic) little fish.
The boardwalks and holders for the interpretive signs were gorgeous — clearly the refuge has been the beneficiary of some generous donations.
At the head of the trail, spotting scopes were set up and a family was looking, pointing, ooh-ing and aahh-ing.
What? What were they seeing?
Desert Big-Horned Sheep! A herd of them! Too cool.
We lingered and watched them watch us. Eventually it was time to move on — so much more to see, like this Dark-Eyed Junco, which was too shy to look directly at the camera, but posed long enough for a shot despite that.
At Devil’s Hole we left the Jeep in the parking area and walked the gravel road to see what in the world the Devil’s Hole is. Well-protected with barbed wire fencing, it had to be something unique, right?
Apparently, this hole is one of those “bottomless” oddities scattered around the world. We grew up near a tourist spot called “The Blue Hole” — and we were always amazed people paid good money (at least for many years) to look at a pond because someone claimed there was no bottom to it. So we looked through the metal grates but were much more intrigued with the hiking possibilities in the hills around Devil’s Hole.
In another part of the refuge, we parked near one of the lakes to (what else?!?) do some birdwatching and take some photos:
And what a beautiful setting it was to do this!
This sandpiper (if you can identify it, please let me know what it is!) bobbed along the shoreline….
…while floatillas of American Coots swam slowly from one end of the lake to the other (and probably back again)…
…and a lone Horned Grebe paddled along, already in its winter plumage.
But what’s this underfoot? Looks like the track of a very large cat:
The tracks didn’t look very fresh, but who was I to make that determination? Maybe spotting the track was a sign our visit was over, hard as it was to leave on such a stunning day!