The highlight of our trip to Anniversary Narrows in late March was a rare sighting of the critically endangered bear paw poppy (Arctomecon californica). In close second to the bear paw was a fascinating trip back in time as walked up Lovell Wash through the Anniversary Mine area to the base of the narrows bearing the same name.
We chose the hike up Lovell wash instead of driving up to the narrows so that we could venture into side canyons looking for the bear paw poppies. We heard they were in bloom in the area and I had never seen one of these rare beauties. Our knowledgeable guide and friend Aaron Leifheit led us into Rainbow Canyon. Rainbow Canyon is a little, incredibly colorful side canyon, on the left, about 300 yards north of Northshore Road(167) up Lovell Wash. We were rewarded with an amazing show of brilliant yellow poppies growing out of the wash floor, the canyon walls and all over the red hillside.
We then headed further up the wash toward the mine and the narrows where, along the way, we were treated to some awesome views of geologic folds, layers of volcanic ash, yellow, purple, white and red rock formations. After about an hour of hiking we reached the mined area where we were surprised to see numerous cars parked. At this time (March 2014), the road is easily driven all the way up to the entrance of the narrows. Sometimes the road is washed out rendering the mine and the narrows inaccessible by car.
The Anniversary Mine is a ghost mine of sorts, having peaked in the 1920s tapping into Borate/Colemanite deposits. Walking around the mined area, just down the wash from the narrows, one can imagine bygone days when the mines were active. There are remnants of infrastructures protruding from the sides of mountains, wrecked cars wedged into crevasses at the tops of canyons and fenced off entrances to mine shafts.
Hiking up Lovell Wash for another half a mile or so, we reached the mouth of the narrows which is unexpectedly nondescript. Once you actually enter the narrows you realize how beautiful and striking the canyon is. The walls of the canyon shoot up some thirty feet overhead where the floor of the canyon is only a few feet wide. The narrows are cooler and shady so it is a relief to be there after a hot long hike. Being inside of the narrows was relaxing and peaceful. Even though there were many people in the area, it was easy to feel immersed in nature and away from the hum-drum of human activity.
This is definitely a destination for the cooler months. As usual, bring lots of water and do not enter the area when there is the threat of rain as the narrows and wash are extremely dangerous when water is flowing. As with any hike in the desert, be careful where you put your hands and feet so you don’t end up startling a venomous creature or stepping on an endangered plant.
Get out and enjoy the beauty of the desert.
For a good description of how to get to Anniversary Narrows, check out http://www.birdandhike.com/Hike/LAME/LovellWash_Narrows/_Lov_Narrows.htm .