Nevada High Points #94 – Bird Spring Range

False glitter. The lights of Las Vegas, Bird Spring Mountains, Mojave Desert, USA

Peak 5695

5695 ft (1736 m) – 1050 gain

2021.10.15

Peak 5965 – Bird Spring Range Photo Collection

Thankfully, my time in Vegas was about over. Leaving the conference hotel in the early evening, I worked my way south toward Jean, Nevada, eventually turning west toward Goodsprings. I hit the flaggy cobble-strewn track cut into the carbonate fans at the western slopes of the Bird Spring Range; the track parallels a dendritic dry wash draining the southern end of the Spring Mountains, of which the Bird Springs are a southeastern extension. The road, incised by consistent travel, cuts through a rocky plan of Joshua Trees and creosote. A smoother, less-used track heads into a broad swale in the northeastern portion of the range. I do not want to drive too far, as it looks like tracks head toward the summit ridge, so I find a turn out and settle into an evening walk.

Bird Spring approach. An easy evening walk to the high point of the Bird Spring Range, Mojave Desert, USA
Cactus light. The sharp ends catch the last light of the evening, Bird Spring Range, Mojave Desert, USA

The light feels harsh until the sun is on the brink of the horizon, golden hour rushes past in mere minutes. I am, however, excited by the walk into nightfall, making way steadily up a useless vehicle trail. A few outcrops of gritty limestone punctuate the trail, where a bright waning moon is diligently chasing the sun. The upper steps of flaggy limestone are steep, and it seems the vehicles have forced their way to a rounded summit plateau. It is a dead-end drive, but I guess the lights of Las Vegas are the draw – and a cheap way to climb a mountain. Happy I am alone this evening.

Into the dark. Night settles in as I approach the steep summit trail, Bird Spring Range, Mojave Desert, USA

I find the summit cairn of Peak 5695, high point of the Bird Spring Range. Earth’s shadow has rocketed past, and the Vegas glitter shows its fleeting beauty – it does look fancy and promising from this height and distance. I am glad to have followed my previous morning outings with an evening one.

Summit register #94

Peak 5965 – Bird Spring Range Collection

The descent is slow in the cone of the headlamp light, ball-bearing gravel rolling on limestone steps. A Joshua Tree, with a reaching arm, startles me as it pops into the peripheral light, anthropomorphic brush at my shoulder. I laugh out loud, only to shiver at the sudden creepiness. But as things flatten in the canyon bottom, I enjoy the last of the moonlight.

It has been a good week of walks in the hills of southern Nevada’s Mojave Desert. I will admit, however, that the peak-bagging spree has begun to lose its magic. I needed the escape from the urbanity of Vegas, but the series of small peaks – though high points of named ranges – has felt hurried. I look forward to slowing down and moving further east on my future visits this far south.

Keep going.

Please respect the natural and cultural resources of our public lands. #naturefirst #keepgoing

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