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What a great stop! Content warning: I will be discussing the size of my butt in this post. I will explain later, but the first two times I have come to this place, I’ve been a lot bigger. There are many ways that being smaller is a good thing, but in this particular instance, it had a very specifically beneficial effect. To calm your concerns – I have not included photos of that. lol
He’s good to go
But before we get to that, we traversed Highway 40, all the way to the turn off for the long, 20 mile road to Hole in the Wall Campground, uneventfully. Richard got kicked out at the bottom so he could ride the rest of the way up. My mission was to secure a campsite and let him know asap that there were spots available. We get super nervous with first come first serve places. It has yet to be an actual issue. We are nervous people though, so that’s just how it goes. Leaving early, we arrived at noon, so that’s how we dealt with the angst.
There were actually only a couple of other campers there, even on Memorial Day Weekend. I got to spend a bit of time walking around to indulge the Premium Donna in me, and select the site with the nicest views. All of the sites have pretty kicking views, so I also got to factor in the super bloom decor for each site. The desert is definitely showing off right now, and I think we were treated to an unusual display this stay. All it takes is 31 atmospheric rivers, a couple billion dollars in statewide damage, but then you get flowers. Sweet. I noticed some little bushes in site 35 with just a hint of purple in them and thought that was pretty nice. I was all set up in the site by the time Richard biked his way to the campground entrance.
So many flowers! And so many blooming cacti!
We took a short walk over to the visitor center, surprised to find it open. That was a first. A ranger was pointing out a large lizard thing, whose name I have forgotten, climbing around on the rocks. He said that these particular lizards hide in rock crevices and puff up their bodies so predators can’t pull them out. Clever! Then it was time for a quick Dory shot, overlooking Banshee Canyon, as I contemplated doing the Rings Trail the next day. We noted all of the blooming plants on our way back to Dory, and then chilled in our Nemo chairs until dinner time. Among the many flowering plants, we identified: Desert Marigold, Bladder Sage, blooming Chollas, California Buckwheat, Purple Sage, Purple Heather, Sacred Thorn-Apple, Apricot Mallow, and Mock Verbena. There were many others to boot.
Four o’Clock Flowers
As I opened my napping eyes, I noticed we suddenly had fully blooming bright purple flowers in our site! I was sure they were not like that when I pulled in, and went back to look at photos to verify. Sure enough, I looked them up and they are part of a “four o’clock family.” Specifically, these are called “Colorado four o’clock.” They in fact only open up their blossoms in the late afternoon, as a way to deal with hot and dry environments. We saw these all over the park the next day and noticed them closing up a little while after the sun came up. The caterpillars of the area seem to love them!
Four o’Clock Flowers at noon
We were so giddy with the peace and quiet of the near empty desert campground, we didn’t even watch shows. We slept with the curtains open, which we normally never do, and woke with the sunrise. The stars were lovely, though you could catch a dim glow on the horizon, probably coming from Las Vegas, about a hundred miles to the north.
This intoxicated bee is completely unconcerned with the size of his butt. And very happy to immerse himself, almost hedonistically, in a full bath of pollen.
Our full day activity was to hike the Barber Loop Trail to the Rings Trail. I’ve done this twice before, but this time was the nicest. The skies were perfect blue all day, and the temperatures not too hot. There was a steady strong breeze coming up from the valley below, and that had a cooling effect as we took breaks to eat along the trail. Richard did get jabbed by a Cholla, so we were extra careful as we picked our way through the last part of the trail. This section resembles a cactus garden. All of the Chollas were bursting with flower buds, which I have never seen before, at least not on this scale.
Dory is not worried about how her butt fits on the rings trail.
As we neared the foot of Banshee Canyon, my mind turned toward those rings. This is the butt discussion, so if you’d like, you can tap out here. See, the previous two times I have hauled myself up the narrow little rock slots, using metal rings as assists, I was quite a lot larger. For the second set of rings, where the slot is barely person sized, I could literally hold myself in the chute using the girth of my derriere. This was not a bug, but a feature, you see. I did have a really hard time getting my feet to the next ring, and thus struggled to reach the next one for a hand hold, but at least I knew I would not fall. So my mind was wondering what would happen if I no longer had a built in friction braking system. Like, would a smaller me just tumble down the chute if I lost my grip? I was prepared to bail if need be, and also, not as daunted by the idea of walking an extra mile around the bottom of the canyon to avoid the obstacle.
Boss level challenge: completed
As I ascended, I right away noticed that it is much, much easier to hoist a fifty pound lighter frame. On the first set of rings, the only dicey spot came at the last moment, when I wasn’t sure I would have the forward momentum to clamber the final couple of feet. Richard, thankfully, was behind me and gave me an assist in the form of a firm push on my now smaller butt. That worked; round one conquered. For the second set, I was correct in thinking I would now fit into the narrow gap with room to spare. What I hadn’t factored in was that this actually resulted in my being able to lift and bend my knees in front of my tummy, so that I could get my foot on the next ring. Because of that, this one was actually no trouble at all! There were only a few more rock steps to climb up, and we were out. I was really pleased about all of this, and celebrated with a snack size bag of Doritos, calorie counted and pre-portion controlled.
Banshee Canyon Overlook
We had delicious Blue Apron meals both nights. It was too windy outside to break out my outdoor set up, but plenty cool enough to cook indoors. I had brought a nice bottle of Chacewater Chardonnay for a special occasion, and this counted. This was such a fabulous stay in this campground. I’m not sure how it could have been any better.
Total miles from Barstow: 127.6, 16.8 mpg, 3 hours 13 min. Site 35 first come first serve. No hookups. Good dump. Great solar. Ok cell service in some places, but SOS only in others.