There are large sections of rugged cedar trees, that can be found on all buttes close to the house.
There are many that grow deep in the cracks in the lava rock fields, where water can accumulate and where the broken-down rock enriches the soil.
There are also many trees that look just like the one below.
Some of them have small and floundering leaves on them through the summer, but many simply look just like this one all year long.
Some were burned in the huge wildfire that swept through the area (and that forced Atomic City residents to leave their homes for a period) in the late 1990's.
They are black and scorched and are nothing more than the skeletal remains of a once beautiful tree.
Others, like this one, are simply still-standing remnants of previous, growing life in the desert.
These things are stark in an already stark environment.
There is nothing obviously beautiful about them, and yet they are compelling to look at anyway...........
Looking back at the top of Cedar and Big Buttes...........
As I reached this section of rock I stood for a few moments scoping out the area and trying to figure out the best way to climb it.
Unlike the last trip Kory and I took out to a lava field, this time I was wearing sturdy hiking boots with good soles, and so I was less concerned with slips and falls.
I snapped this picture as Kory was exploring the rocks and trees, and right after I took this shot she turned to look down at me.
I yelled up to her that I was coming, but before I could take my first step up, my dog easily hopped her way down to greet me.
I knelt down to pet her and rub her ears, and then watched as she easily climbed back up the hill with three effortless bounds.
A minute later we were both at the top...............
Click on any picture to enlarge it.
When I finally reached the top of the hill I snapped the picture above of Kory and then finally looked out over the desert.
I had never stood in this very place before and for a moment I was a little stunned.
I finally got my first good view of the Twin Buttes and (even though I could not see it from this place) I knew that Atomic City lay in between the two peaks.
But as I visually drew back from the buttes I looked out over the terrain, and for the first time fully realized just how huge the lava field that I was now in the middle of, actually was.
I had no idea.
I had seen hints of it from the Big Butte Rd, but standing in this place I could now see it all laid out in front of me.
Seeing it all would take many trips over many months, and I was pleased at this unexpected sight..............
As Kory and I began to explore the top of the lava hill (being careful to step over and around cracks in the rock), LC called me.
Hi. Where are you?
Standing on a rock hill in the middle of a lave field.
Out by Cedar Butte.
And so the conversation went.
My dog and I had been out for a while, and I could hear it in his voice that he had been getting worried.
And so I told LC that we were going to work our way over to the edge of the rock peak, work our way back down, meander our way through more lava rock and then work our way back to the Tahoe.
At least another hour.
I'll call you when I'm back at the Tahoe.
I love you too.
We were fine and my dog was loving this new terrain, and loving being up high so that she could look out over the world...................
It took about 20 minutes of picking our way through rocks and cracks and sage bushes and trees until finally I found the north side of the huge hill that Kory and I had been wandering on.
As we worked our way through the rock-ridge I could hear coyotes yapping their annoying cries in the background. It sounded as though they were on the backside of Cedar Butte.
A good ways from us.
I came down at this place, and then turned and looked up in search of my dog..................
I could see Kory still at the top of the hill, with a nose that was working overtime as she slowly continued to smell her way to the downhill.
I could see her but was not in a frame of mind to rush my dog.
She was having a great time, and as I alternated between looking around me and looking up to monitor her, I snapped this picture.
I was standing in a large, sandy low point that was completely encircled by rock and I knew (from others of these places that we had found over the summer) that the soil was rich and these "holes" were filled with lush green grasses and plentiful and fragile flowers, during warm months................
I headed to my left a short ways, turned back and watched as Kory easily made her way down the same hill that I had just used to get back down onto firm ground..................
We were now out of the most technical parts of the lave rock field, and were in more open terrain, but we still had a good many ups-and-overs to put behind us as Kory and I slowly worked our way in the general direction of the Tahoe.................
I called LC as promised when we finally reached the truck.
My dog and I had been exploring for a few hours, and before we loaded up and headed back towards the house I reached into the front seat, grabbed a bottle of water, unscrewed the cap, took a big drink and then crouched down.
Pouring water into my cupped hand, my pup eagerly drank.
She loves to drink out of my hand, and it has become a bonding experience between the two of us every time we do that. And we do that often.
A great morning.
But as I looked over at the mountains of the Lost River Valley, and then looked around me at the beige desert terrain, I wished once again that it would snow.
Two days later it did......................
For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travels' sake. The great affair is to move............Robert Louis Stevenson