Forum Index > Trip Reports > 28 Peaks in 15 days, NV, CA, 11-27 to 12-11, 2016
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Gimpilator
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PostMon Dec 19, 2016 9:45 am 
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After Heather's Arizona Trail hike, we started planning a desert peakbagging trip.  I was frustrated by a less than perfect Fall and couldn't wait to get the hell out of WA and away from the rain.  Having just come from the desert, Heather was slightly less enthusiastic about returning so soon.  I'm really fortunate that she agreed to go with my anyhow.

A major storm system was battering the entire west coast when we left, so our plans for getting some peaks along the way dissolved.  When we reached the desert the bad weather translated to gusty wind and dust storms.  This again delayed our first actual hike.  Watching the weather, we had to make many adjustments during the first week of the trip, which meant driving back and forth from one area to another.  If not for one important peak in the Las Vegas area, we would have gone further south sooner.


Henderson Benchmark 11-27

Our first evening in the Las Vegas area afforded us enough time to bag a small peaklet.  Henderson stood out on the peakbagger app as a P2k, but I later discovered it was incorrectly added to the database.  It has since been corrected.


Potosi Mountain, Cheyenne Mountain 11-28

Potosi was a snowy road walk with commanding views of the surrounding dry desert and Charleston to the North.  We didn't spend long on the summit because of the all the towers emitting radiation.  I went over the top of the south peak on the way down.

Kingston Range, been there done that
Kingston Range, been there done that
fossils
fossils

After Potosi there was some daylight left, so we picked out another peaklet to do.  We ascended the entire north ridge which was ascetic in the evening light.  I was super excited to find numerous fossils along the ridge and wasted a lot of time poking around.


Cheyenne Summit
Cheyenne Summit

Muddy Mountain, Muddy Peak 11-29, 11-30

With a truck or Jeep you might be able to get close enough to these peaks to do them in a day, but that's no longer the case with a Subaru.  From were I could drive to, I estimated 24 miles round-trip.  With the short daylight ours,  I conceded to do the hike as a backpack which was Heather's solution.

Neither of us had really brought the ideal overnight style packs, and carrying two days of water sounded like a drag.  Furthermore, after the rough start of the trip, I regretted using two days for these peaks.  But the road from the north passes through some lovely country with rock piles and washes which make the slog a lot more interesting.  In the end, we enjoyed it.


Muddy Peak visible
Muddy Peak visible

We camped in upper Hidden Valley.  Overlooking the valley, I couldn't help but wonder where John Morrow had found the petroglyphs.  There were rock piles everywhere and I imagined it would take many ours if not days to find them without a lead.

The next morning we ascended to the pass between the two peaks and turned right for the higher one, Muddy Mountain.  On the way over we startled a young sheep which went bonkers running down 300 vertical feet and then back up about 400 feet.  Not long after that, we rounded a bend and I saw 3 sets of mature spiral horns in a row.  The adult sheep looked at me for a brief second and then disappeared behind an outcropping.

Muddy Peak seen from the saddle
Muddy Peak seen from the saddle
Muddy Mountain summit
Muddy Mountain summit
Lake Meade
Lake Meade
a tick!
a tick!

Views from the summit were the best yet of the trip.  Heather was disturbed to find a tick crawling on her clothes.  Muddy Peak across the way looked slightly intimidating (probably only to me).  We went back to the pass and started up Muddy Peak.  The upper ridge narrowed which made for a fun traverse.  The route ahead looked sheer.  We found the steep gully at the base of the summit block and after donning helmets, started scrambling.  This let out onto a ledge and then we went up another gully to a narrow exposed ridge.  Fun!

Hidden Valley below
Hidden Valley below
Muddy Peak
Muddy Peak
along the ridge
along the ridge
the business end
the business end
fun scrambling
fun scrambling
stoked
stoked
Muddy Mountain seen from Muddy Peak
Muddy Mountain seen from Muddy Peak
exposed gully
exposed gully
must go back over this narrow ridge
must go back over this narrow ridge
attractive sandstone
attractive sandstone
last light
last light

Virgin Peak 12-01

The last time we were in this area, there was too much snow on the higher peaks.  We hiked up the south ridge of Virgin after passing through a canyon.  We left the canyon near an old American Native agave roasting pit.  This ridge run is a lot longer than it looks from the start, something like 4 miles one-way.



From the summit we had a nice view of Mormon and Moapa to the north as well as the Muddy Mountains where we had just been to the west.  During the descent I spotted more fossils, this time the best I have ever seen outside of a museum or rock shop.  Can anyone identify what these are?

Virgin summit
Virgin summit
excellent fossils
excellent fossils

The Orphan, Silica Dome, Cairn Peak 12-02

A high wind warning and wind chills in the single digits kept us out of the higher peaks for a few days.  I suggested we go back to the Lake Meade area considering we had so much fun there last time.  We started in the Valley of Fire hiking a short distance to "fire wave".


After "fire wave" we honed in on a peaklet called The Orphan.  All we had for beta was the guidebook Rambles and Scrambles which warned of tricky route finding.  It sounded like a fun puzzle.  I later found out John Morrow had been there 2 days prior.


To get to The Orphan, which is hardly more than a big pile of rocks, we had to scramble down a slot canyon to get into a wash.  The slot was so narrow at the bottom, if you fell into it, you would be stuck there until the next big rain pushed out your bones.

cryptobiotic soil
cryptobiotic soil

From the wash we came to the main rock pile.  It was riddled with fissures, boulders, walls, and slots, all composed of red sandstone.  We had to scramble over the top one promontory and then down into a canyon which narrowed into a slot.  Above the narrows we scrambled up ledges and then into another slot which put us up near the top.  We encountered some class 3+ right below the summit.

The Orphan summit
The Orphan summit
sandstone formations
sandstone formations

After The Orphan we went over to Silica Dome which is a short and popular Class 2+ hike.  After seeing us on the summit, a bunch of people started heading over from the parking area, as if they only just realized that you could go to the top.

Silica Dome
Silica Dome
summit
summit

For our final peaklet we scrambled up Cairn Peak.  This is another fun rock pile with gullies and walls and route-finding style scrambling.  The first two routes we tried didn't pan out and we had to go back to the bottom.  Finally I listened to Heather and we went the way she first suggested.  She was right and we made it to the top.

Silica Dome from Cairn Peak
Silica Dome from Cairn Peak

After Cairn Peak we hiked around in Fire Creek Wash, just for the heck of it.


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Gimpilator
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PostMon Dec 19, 2016 9:45 am 
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The Sentinel, 4 of the Redstone Peaks 12-03

Now supposedly The Sentinal is one of, if not the finest peak, in the Lake Meade area.  We sure enjoyed it, but perhaps not as much as Hamblin from our previous trip.  Once again we entered Pinto Valley but this time on the far side.  We crossed the valley and traversed slabs above the bottom of a wash which was full of red rock.

The Sentinel
The Sentinel
Pinto Valley
Pinto Valley
The sentinel above
The sentinel above
traversing slabs
traversing slabs

The wash narrowed into a canyon which had a natural switchback pattern.  At the top of the canyon we gained the upper east ridge.  We had to cross one narrow loose section of ridge which looked worse than it was.  We then scrambled up sharp limestone with more fossils to the upper summit ridge.  What views!  I really love this area.

nice peak!
nice peak!
final ridge walk
final ridge walk
The sentinel summit
The sentinel summit
Hamblin on the far side of Pinto Valley
Hamblin on the far side of Pinto Valley
Booths Pinnacle and Pyramid Peak
Booths Pinnacle and Pyramid Peak
Muddy Mountains
Muddy Mountains
next up, Redstone Peaks
next up, Redstone Peaks
The Sentinel summit
The Sentinel summit

After The Sentinel there was time enough for something short, so we drove a short distance to the Redstone Peak group located above the Red Rock parking area.  We hiked up the east peak first where a register is located and then traversed to the main peak and then over to Mystery Cairn and Vista Peak.  Mystery Cairn has a short steep scramble at the top.

Red Rocks area
Red Rocks area
East Redstone summit
East Redstone summit
bighorn sheep
bighorn sheep
Vista Peak
Vista Peak
Lake Meade
Lake Meade
light getting good
light getting good

Hayford Peak 12-04

Finally the wind settled enough for us to go for one of our main objectives.  This was the prize that had kept us hanging around the Vegas area despite cold windy conditions.  Rumor has it this peak will soon be added to a military zone which is off limits to the public.


We hiked up a snowy canyon to an old log cabin.  From the cabin a short trail goes up to a spring.  From there we ascended an easy ridge and traversed to the summit which is clogged with small towers and solar panels.

bristlecone pine
bristlecone pine

Clark Mountain 12-05

Heather and I had tried this peak once before but I turned around at the scramble crux.  The guide book says it's class 3 but that "some parties may want a rope".  What does that mean?  And who needs a rope on class 3?  Well, we found out on that first attempt.  Some pretty old-school class 3 in my opinion.  The first time I knew I could do it no problem on the way up, but I also decided that I would not want to down-climb it.  I would definitely want to rappel.

on belay
on belay
Clark summit visible
Clark summit visible

This time we brought the rope.  I even placed a couple nuts on the way up for good measure.  It felt good to clear up a failed attempt especially considering it is the highest peak in the Mojave Preserve.  After I belayed Heather up the crux, she said that if it really is class 3, it's the hardest class 3 she's ever done.  The first 10 or 15 feet are nearly vertical with down-sloping holds.

on rappel
on rappel

During our descent we found some super juicy cactus fruit ripe to perfection.  The trick with this fruit it to peel it without touching any of the tiny hair-like thorns.  Easier said than done.  I pulled the fruit off the cactus using my trekking poles like chopsticks and then used a clump of grass to rub off the thorns.

juicy
juicy

McCullough Mountain, Spirit Mountain 12-06

We did the east side approach after determining that the west side access road is probably not within the Subaru's capabilities.  This was an easy hike up some pleasant scenic washes.  I startled a fat deer in the second wash.  He tried to bounce away, but didn't get very high above the ground with each jump.  On the summit we could see some sun energy farms over by Clark which looks really odd like alien technology.

sun energy farms
sun energy farms
McCullough summit
McCullough summit

After McCullough we drove to Christmas Tree Pass and the start of Spirit Mountain.  Many small trees were decorated near the pass with seasonal ornaments.  We read that the traditional beliefs of the Chemehuevi tribe are that the ancestors live at the summit of this mountain.  We were not sure if we had enough time left for the route, but I wanted to give it a shot.

Spirit
Spirit
Spirit and the tower which I call Spirit Tower
Spirit and the tower which I call Spirit Tower

From afar, the peak looks easy to access, but folded bands of rock and generally rugged terrain are hidden.  We hiked up over a small pass and traversed into a bowl below the main peak.  Both of us were quite taken with the detached spire west of the peak.  I'd like to return and climb it someday.

Spirit Tower
Spirit Tower

We scrambled over some rock steps and weaved back and forth before we came to a notch that allowed access to the more gentle upper southeast slope.  We passed through one more notch before reaching the summit.  This peak reminded both of us of Picacho del Diablo in Baja Mexico, except that it was a lot easier.  Someone in the register dubbed it "Picacho del Diablo light".

second notch
second notch
Spirit summit
Spirit summit
Spirit summit
Spirit summit
exposed slab move
exposed slab move
Spirit Tower in fading light
Spirit Tower in fading light
last look
last look

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Gimpilator
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PostMon Dec 19, 2016 9:46 am 
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Stepladder Mountain 12-07

There is not much information about this peak online.  The access road was a big mystery.  Satellite photos I had studied made it look really bad.  I was hesitant to even try the drive.  Fortunately we did, because it was no problem aside from about 1000 inverted speed-bump style dips.  It's overgrown with brush and cactus and very tough to find the turn-off, but still passable for the time being.


We hiked across open desert to enter a wash where Heather found wild lavender growing in abundance.  She picked a bunch to make the car smell nice.  Looking at the peak, it was hard to believe that the route goes up the visible side of it.  It looked vertical, but some information we had promised nice ledges.

start of zigzag ledges
start of zigzag ledges

Sure enough, the ledges on the breccia cap of the peak were wide and pleasant if not a bit rubbly.  The highest rock was a knobby scramble.  We had an excellent view of the Turtle Mountains as well as Chemehuevi and Whipple over by Lake Havasu.

Stepladder summit
Stepladder summit

Big Maria Mountain, False Maria 12-08

Now we were really far south and the morning was warm for once.  We took a non-standard side canyon up from the main canyon and found some nice slabs and a few dryfalls.  At the top of the canyon we followed a ridge over to the saddle between Big Maria and False Maria, turning left for the main peak.  False Maria is only one foot shorter so peakbaggers better do both.

False Maria
False Maria
slabs
slabs
Big Maria
Big Maria
Big Maria summit
Big Maria summit

Big Maria had the best summit views of the entire trip and we spent an hour up there before heading over to False Maria.  The temptation for us is always to rush on to the next set of peaks, but on this day we took it slow for once and it was nice, despite the instinct to move on.  We tagged False Maria on the way down.

Big Maria summit
Big Maria summit
going to False Maria
going to False Maria
False Maria summit
False Maria summit

Black Butte, Chuckwalla Mountain 12-09

The first road we tried to drive to Black Butte and Chuckwalla was much too sandy.  Conceivably, there are 3 ways you could access the south side and standard routes of these peaks.  However, everyone drives in from the northwest to reach the south side, so that's what we ultimately did.  We camped near the start of Black Butte.

ocatillo sunrise
ocatillo sunrise
first light on Black Butte
first light on Black Butte

We were treated with a lovely sunrise, which was complimented by ocatillo.  Closer to the peak we passed through dense patches of cholla.  The access gully had some dryfalls.  The biggest one had a fun chimney in it.  From the summit would could see Chuckwalla Mountain which was our next objective.

cholla
cholla
large dryfall with chimney
large dryfall with chimney
Chuckwalla seen from Black Butte
Chuckwalla seen from Black Butte

We came down a different wash on the way back to the car and were rewarded with a whole group of ocatillo in bloom.  Heather is crazy about these desert plants and probably took a hundred photos in that spot.  She says when we move to the desert, we will grow them in our yard.

cholla
cholla

Chuckwalla was less vegetated than Black Butte and had more volcanic rock.  It was slightly shorter than Black Butte.    The sunset we saw while driving out from these peaks was the cherry on top.

Chuckwalla
Chuckwalla
Chuckwalla summit
Chuckwalla summit
Black Butte seen from Chuckwalla
Black Butte seen from Chuckwalla
last look at Black Butte while driving back
last look at Black Butte while driving back

Pinto Mountain 12-10

First we tried to car camp at the start of Orocopia Mountain, but some yahoos were firing off shotguns and tracer bullets in the dark.  Probably drunk.  They were firing across the road so we turned around and got the hell out of there.

Plan B was Pinto Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park.  We crossed some open desert named Turkey Flats and then passed over minor sand dunes before coming to the base of the peak.

first light on Pinto
first light on Pinto
Turkey Flats
Turkey Flats
minor sand dunes
minor sand dunes

We climbed a southwest ridge between two large washes.  As we climbed higher we crossed over various color bands of what appeared to be marble.  It's really a lovely route and better than what it appears like from afar.  Sections of trail weave along the ridge but were easier to spot during the descent.  On the summit, someone had created a saguaro out of old rusty wire.

start of the ridge
start of the ridge
colorful bands of rock, the photos don't do it justice
colorful bands of rock, the photos don't do it justice
saguaro
saguaro
last light on Pinto
last light on Pinto

Orocopia Mountain, Toro Peak, Santa Rosa Mountain, Thomas Mountain 12-11

We returned to Orocopia during daylight hours and the yahoos were still there but much more docile in the early morning.  Orocopia was not very interesting and we couldn't help but wonder why it's on the DPS list.  The one redeeming value is great views of the Salton Sea as well as Toro Peak and Rabbit Peak on the far side.  We could also make out Black Butte and Chuckwalla where we had just been, to the east.

Eagle seen from start of Orocopia, been there done that
Eagle seen from start of Orocopia, been there done that
easy dryfall
easy dryfall
Toro, our next objective
Toro, our next objective
Rabbit Peak, hope to get it on the next trip
Rabbit Peak, hope to get it on the next trip
Black Butte and Chuckwalla
Black Butte and Chuckwalla
Black Butte
Black Butte
Eagle seen from Orocopia summit
Eagle seen from Orocopia summit
peachy keen
peachy keen

After Orocopia we drove to Toro Peak.  The road was very icy near the top.  We hiked cross-country from a subsidiary peak, again not staying long on the main summit because of radiation from the towers.  I could see Rabbit Peak down the ridge as well as Coyote Mountain in the valley below.  The Anza Borrego stretched out as far as I could see in the haze.  On the way down I ran up Santa Rosa Mountain.

Toro West Peak summit
Toro West Peak summit
interesting
interesting
Alpine Village
Alpine Village
Toro main summit
Toro main summit
Rabbit, Villager, and Rosa visible below
Rabbit, Villager, and Rosa visible below
Coyote Mountain and Anza Borrego
Coyote Mountain and Anza Borrego

We decided to do one last peak in the dark.  We drove most of the way up Thomas Mountain, finishing on foot.  Google Navigate played a trick on us and told us to drive down a different road than the one we came up.  I should have known better.

The road to Hog Lake was not good and just before we got there it was gated with a sign featuring aggressive explicit language.  We took another road down from there which was even rougher.  In many places turning around was not an option.  I wondered if it was even possible to return the way we came.  After several hours we dumped out onto Bautista Canyon Road which was much better.  Sigh of relief.

party.gif my 1000th NWH post! party.gif

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Bryan K
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Joined: 29 Sep 2005
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Bryan K
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PostMon Dec 19, 2016 11:19 am 
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Daaaaaamn!!!!!!! Nice job you two!!!!
Dude, I can totally see why we're such good friends; we are both obsessive compulsive on bagging as much as humanly possible in the least amount of time!!!

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dundeel
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PostMon Dec 19, 2016 9:13 pm 
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Looks like a great trip!  I think I saw 3 (Clark, Big Maria, and Orocopia) that I've also been to.

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Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up and going anyway. - John Wayne
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Magellan
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Magellan
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PostMon Dec 19, 2016 9:14 pm 
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Very nice run you two.  up.gif  up.gif
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Fletcher
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PostTue Dec 20, 2016 12:46 am 
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Looks like fun guys!  up.gif
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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostWed Dec 21, 2016 9:35 pm 
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Awesome you two!!!  What a way to spend the rainy season!  Another killer trip.  Way to go!   up.gif  agree.gif
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Nancyann
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PostThu Dec 22, 2016 1:02 am 
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Congratulations on your 1,000th post! Your trip reports are always interesting to read and your pictures are great. I love how Heather looks so happy in your pictures. You guys look like you are having the time of your lives!  up.gif  up.gif
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Brushbuffalo
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PostThu Dec 22, 2016 6:06 pm 
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A few more trips and there will be few peaks left in the desert for you two to climb!

Gimpilator wrote:
During the descent I spotted more fossils, this time the best I have ever seen outside of a museum or rock shop.  Can anyone identify what these are?

Coral fossils. Nice indeed!

The one that forms the perfect spiral in the picture of the two "snails" is a cephalapod, not a gastropod, and looks like a chambered nautilus.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Gimpilator
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PostThu Dec 22, 2016 6:16 pm 
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Thanks everyone!  I've actually gotten to the point now that during the summer in WA, I'm actually looking forward to winter just so that we can make a trip or two to the desert.  Especially if it's a very smoky or very rainy summer like the last two were.

Nancyann wrote:
Congratulations on your 1,000th post! Your trip reports are always interesting to read and your pictures are great. I love how Heather looks so happy in your pictures. You guys look like you are having the time of your lives!  up.gif  up.gif

Thank you.  Believe it or not, Heather is usually smiling all the time while hiking.  Sometimes I turn around to check and sure enough, she is beaming.  And yes, I am definitely having the time of my life.

Brushbuffalo wrote:
Coral fossils. Nice indeed!

The ones that form the perfect spiral  look like chambered nautilus.

Thanks Doug.  I could tell that all the fossils we saw were aquatic.  There were some fan type corals that were quite obvious which I didn't photograph, but the wheel shaped ones stumped me.  I was wondering if anyone knew the exact name of those, because as you probably know, certain marker species can be used to date the rocks to a specific time frame.

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Brushbuffalo
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PostThu Dec 22, 2016 10:06 pm 
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Gimpilator wrote:
but the wheel shaped ones stumped me.  I was wondering if anyone knew the exact name of those (

Rugose coral, often known as horn coral,  existed from Ordovician to late Permian (about 488 - 251 million years ago). Apparently they succumbed to the great Permian extinction, which wiped out the majority of Earth's species living at the time.The pictures you posted show mostly  a cross section of some of the "horns," but in the second to last picture before the section on "The Orphan"  there is what looks like a longitudinal view of a small "horn" in  top center of the rock specimen.

Because rugosa existed for a rather long time as an order, they are not particularly good index fossils. When they coexist in rock that also contains fossils of organisms whose age overlaps with part of that of rugosa, the assemblage will narrow the age of the host rock.

Rugose corals are cool. It was one of the fossils I was intrigued by way back when I took paleontology. As you know, Adam, I am a geologist but my weakest discipline was always paleo...still true.  smile.gif

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Sculpin
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PostFri Dec 23, 2016 10:24 am 
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Brushbuffalo wrote:
Rugose coral, often known as horn coral,  existed from Ordovician to late Permian (about 488 - 251 million years ago).

Well, its a slow day at work... redface.gif

According to Dr. Google, most likely Pennsylvanian to Permian Callville Limestone.  Really cool!  Guess I am adding the Virgin Mountains to my list for next winter.

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Been lashed by the rain, stung by the sleet,
Had my tent blown in but I'm still on my feet
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John Morrow
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PostSat Dec 24, 2016 5:54 am 
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Wish I could have connected with you two.  Next fall for sure!  Great stuff you did down south.  Some beautiful mountains.
John

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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”-Mary Oliver

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
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ree
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ree
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PostTue Dec 27, 2016 8:11 am 
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Wowsa! ! I'll be sure to reread your trip reports next time we visit that area.

Mt. Potosi has a historic plane crash which took us 2 attempts to find. We also found a nice tarantula out for a stroll.

Have you done Sheep Mtn? It's on the north edge of Las Vegas Valley... the access road was quite nasty, but we made it ok when we borrowed my cousin's 4 runner.  Sheep is approached from the north side.  That was an easy hike with nice views of LV.

We loved Hidden Valley. We attempted Muddy Mtn. but ran out of time.  Did you check out the mine ruins there?

You both and Morrow really have done an amazing job combing the area.

Thanks for posting such a thorough report.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > 28 Peaks in 15 days, NV, CA, 11-27 to 12-11, 2016
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