We started today with a short, easy hike (.7 miles roundtrip) in Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.
A "tank" is a depression in the rocks that holds water after a rain, and "Mouse" was a Southern Paiute that camped near such a tank here in Valley of Fire.
But the highlights of this hike, besides the beauty of the red rocks all around, are the many panels of petroglyphs.
With predicted 100-degree temperatures here at Valley of Fire, we headed out to the trails early. Driving on the White Domes Road, we stopped at the Mouse's Tank trailhead on a whim.
"Wanna do this one?" "Sure, why not?" I was thinking "If there is water in the tank, perhaps we'll see Bighorn Sheep in the area".
It was about 6:30 a.m., and the sun hadn't risen above the rock walls, so the trail was shaded and cool as we made our way down the sand path.
It wasn't long before we started seeing petroglyphs all along the walls on the left side of the trail. Just about every "desert varnished" wall had rock art.
Desert varnish appears on rocks in arid regions, and some Native American peoples scraped or chipped away the dark varnish to expose the lighter surface underneath. These etchings are "petroglyphs" as opposed to "pictographs" which are drawings or paintings on the rock surface.
This huge rock was loaded with petroglyphs.
We alternated trying to decipher the petroglyphs with admiring the rock formations.
Also, wildflowers were abundant and fragrant.
And the lovely song of the Canyon Wren added to the serenity and beauty of this little hike.
Eventually, we came to this sign indicating the trail was ending after a hard left turn.
I had read you can continue on past that sign and into Fire Canyon Wash, but we stuck to the trail this morning.
The trail, in fact, ended here.
Mouse's Tank was below the end of the trail in the gap, but it was completely dry - just sand.
We turned around and re-traced our steps. On the way out, the sun had gotten higher and illuminated the red rocks.
Though there were hundreds of footprints in the sand, we only encountered two other couples. It was a wonderful start to the day.