50 Photos - Feb 24, 2013
Photo: Kelso Depot used to be an old train station. It has been restored to its full glory in 2007 and now hosts a small museum about the desert and a "beanery" (cafe). The depot is almost a mandatory stop for anyone cruising on Kelbaker Rd.Photo: Water towers (?) across the parking lot and a few workers barracks. Also note the snow at the top of the mountains.Photo: Detail of the old jailhouse, from the steam train times. I wonder how many people got imprisoned in this cage.Photo: "The Beanery" at the Kelso Depot is a convenient place to stop and eat or drink something in the middle of the desert. The owner, Mike, was there and we took some time to talk a bit about the place.Photo: Kelso-Cima Rd. The Mojave is full of these small roads and it's a real joy to drive through them. You can drive for a long time without seeing a person or another car. The asphalt has a quality that makes it show burgundy or black, depending on the sun's position.Photo: Kelso-Cima Rd, with a bit more of zoom. Notice how wavy the road is.Photo: After a brief lunch, we take the road to the Kelso dunes. It had snowed on the high peaks on the previous night. It's surprising that snow survived the noonday sun (although it was pretty cold.)Photo: Kelso Dunes Rd, a few miles south of the depot. The road is somewhat rough for an RV. I went ahead in the car and took this pictures of M & V arriving in the RV.Photo: The parking lot was somewhat full, which is unusual. Three school district vans were parked and the kids were coming back from the dunes as we entered the trail.Photo: The Kelso Dunes trailhead. V pauses for some pictures.Photo: The Kelso Dunes trail entrance. I'm ready to start the day's adventure.Photo: Panorama of the Kelso Dunes. Use the "Zoom In" button on top of the picture to enjoy.Photo: V & I discuss the best way ahead...Photo: V decided to take the easternmost dune. M and I took  slightly different trails and would be a bit up ahead.Photo: M and I on the picture. This photo was taken by V, who decided to split and explore the easternmost dune. M and I decided to climb the tallest one.Photo: Another picture showing M and I. Note the pristine sand.Photo: V found this interesting bone fragment. Looks like a rabbit jaw bone.Photo: Easternmost dune. This is not the "official" trail and this dune is not as traveled as the "main" dune. Note the pristine state of the ridge.Photo: Sand dunes, the postcards of the desert. We climb the Kelso Dunes slowly and enjoy the walk up. V is somewhere on the easternmost dune (ahead.)Photo: Picture taken by V, from the easternmost dune. M & I can be seen as dots at the ridge of the tallest dune ahead.Photo: V, after having set the camera on a tripod and "auto shoot" mode.Photo: The climb can be a bit strenuous and in certain parts we have the typical "three steps forward, two back" pattern. This is the ridge of the highest dune. The first part is relatively easy, and things get much more interesting ahead, where the ridge is narrower. Slipping to the side won't hurt you, but you won't be able to climb it back the easy way.Photo: It's impossible to capture the vastness of the place with pictures. The people ahead provide a sense of perspective.Photo: After a little break, M resumes the climb behind me.Photo: Meanwhile, V keeps climbing the easternmost dune.Photo: The same ridge, now much closer to the top. Notice how narrow the path is here. The sun, despite strong, added some welcome warmth to the cold day.Photo: A friendly hiker we met at the top of the dunes. He had no water (a bad idea in the desert) and borrowed some or ours.Photo: Accept this water brother, with the blessings of the Sand, Wind, and Sun. May the desert accept you as one of its own. :)Photo: Me, on top of the world (or rather, on top of the dunes) :)Photo: The wind feels great after climbing sand with four layers of clothing, plus equipment (backpack full of water, pockets full of gps, cell phone, camera, etc).Photo: Panorama (8028x1200 pixels) from the top of the Dune. Use the "Zoom In" button on top of the picture to enjoy.Photo: Another awesome view from the top of the dunes.Photo: Our unknown hiker friend, now properly hydrated, decides to go down on the steep side. When I asked if I could take a picture of a possible fall, he said "Yes, and please send it to the world."Photo: More majestic views from the top. The place to our right is aptly named "Devil's Playground."Photo: The devil's playground. A Union Pacific railroad can be seen in the distance. I feel like hiking all the way there one day.Photo: The easternmost dune. V is almost at the top (almost invisible in the picture.) Nearby, a couple who decided to stop halfway up.Photo: One of our radios ran out of batteries and I couldn't contact V on the other dune. After a few pleasant minutes relaxing, we decided to go down. M leads the way.Photo: As it turned out, it's much easier going down than up, even when the way down is very steep.Photo: Now it's my turn. Going down... Wheeee....Photo: The way down is easy and free of events. A few more people arrive and we can see them climbing.Photo: The big dune is behind us but there's still some distance to cover. Our RV is one of the small white specks on the left side of the picture (between the two power towers.) We'll camp in a small place off the street somewhat in the center of the picture.Photo: We reach the trailhead, hop into the vehicles and drive a mile or so to this small campground. Hard to believe that a few minutes ago, we were at the top of the tallest of the dunes on the left. Later, we'd be joined by a couple from Germany and their baby.Photo: A few minutes before sunset, the sun passed behind a few clouds giving this opportunity for pictures.Photo: The sun sets in the desert.Photo: The sunset colors in the desert never cease to amaze me. A few minutes before, the sun was obscured by those small clouds.Photo: Right after the sunset, the entire sky turns orange.Photo: The telescope has been assembled and is ready for some observations.Photo: With the sun down, V sets up the telescope and does a few tests.Photo: The unmistakable constellation of  Orion.Photo: The night presented clear and good skies, but it was exceptionally cold. V had problems with the telescope. We pack everything into the RV, cook some dinner and declare the day done.