Day 2 (Click on photo to look at photos)

 

The day started very misty, and as I drove down to the Park I wondered what might lay ahead. But the closer I came to the Park, the brighter the sky became and then the mist had gone and it was a bright, partly clouded, but sunny, day. On the way in, I stopped near Ash Creek for another short session of photography, and the photos of Echinocerei, Opuntias, Echinocactus, and others have come out pretty well - nice plants too!

The Lost Mine trail was first on my list for today, and Panther Pass was looking spectacular in the sunlight. The trail itself is great, just enough climbing upwards to test your stamina, but not enough to be over taxing. Great views from all sides of the path, which was in much better condition than I had feared, after my experiences of yesterday - clearly a difference between the desert floor and the mountains. As can be seen from the photo page, the scenery is fantastic - the views across Juniper Canyon especially were great - with added atmosphere from the mist and clouds that still threatened to roll in, but never did.As far as plants were concerned, several new cacti were to be seen, but the main focus was on the trees and bushes - all looking very healthy and green after all the rain. In fact that was the most amazing thing - last time I was in the park, the vegetation was all dry and brown, and this was such a contrast. The colours, the greens and the purples of the flowering bushes, the yellows of various wild flowers - it was difficult today to remind myself that this was November - it was so much more like an English spring!

Lunch was eaten in the parking lot at the Basin Visitors centre, before setting out to walk the Windows trail. In some contrast to the morning, where I passed probably a couple of dozen people and a rather noisy school party, I met only about 4 people on this walk. Down hill almost all the way the path wandered through meadows and beside waterbeds, until the canyon narrowed so much that the steps built were the only way forward, almost right to the end. It was a great walk, and spectacular views across the desert below. The photos taken found it difficult to handle the contrast between the dark canyon and the very bright scenery below - it was after all about 4pm by then, so the sun was well in the west and low in the sky. I've processed the scanned images with JASC Paint Shop Pro 7 to try to rebalance and I hope it has been worth it. The walk back up to the Visitors Centre was obviously a bit harder than coming down, and this trail leaves the steepest part right to near the last, so be warned if you try it towards the end of a busy day. Time then to get back, and soak in a really hot shower!