Tuesday, 11 Feb….
FINALLY starting to feel really better today, with the cough diminishing and my energy continuing to rise. Still not up to a lot of hiking, though, so a short morning walk was all I tackled.
The morning sun lit up the slope west of camp. This area is favored by the barrel cacti, and their purplish spines set off many hillsides. This plump fellow guides the way to Banshee Canyon in the distance.
After breakfast, we decided to gas up Ralph. At 1/4 tank, we didn’t have the comfort zone needed for long lonely desert roads. Nearest gas is at Needles or Baker, each about 70 miles away. But Baker was close to something we wanted to see, the Lava Tube area, so that was our pick.
Baker is a nondescript whistle-stop about halfway between Barstow and Las Vegas, on I-15. Coming down off the high country of the Preserve, it looked like nothing more than a thin scattering of shacks along the Interstate. Gee whattayaknow – – that’s what it was.
Driving back into the Preserve, we were amazed at the total lack of signage of any kind. Major (dirt) roads simply darted left and right off the main Kelbaker road (Kelbaker – – Kelso to Baker – – get it?).
Some roads went somewhere, some didn’t. Fortunately, we have a great NatGeo map and some terrific guidebooks, and they helped us find the Lava Tube Trail, which (finally) was flagged by this gallant 6” square notification.
The Lava Tube was smallish, as such structures go, but nevertheless intriguing, eerie, and charming.
– – to be continued.