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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Jeeping to Rovey's Needle

Our current boondock spot, The Steps, is located at the base of the Aubrey Hills, only a mile or two up from the shore of Lake Havasu in Arizona.  There are jeep roads everywhere in this area, and so we decided we would take a day to explore by jeep.  Our book on Arizona backroad and 4WD trails lists a drive from our location to Cattail Cove on the Bill Williams River, which empties into the southern end of Lake Havasu, just above Parker Dam.  We decided this would be our route, since the book provides a very helpful guide; but we decided to drive only as far as Rovey's Needle - about 8 miles round trip - nothing extreme.

Rovey’s Needle is a curious geological formation, also sometimes called Holey Rock or Honeycomb Rock because of the hole in the middle and its honeycomb texture.  It stands tall over the desert floor, surrounded by desert washes and hills.

We asked Dusty if he was up for the challenge, and he hopped up and down in excitement.  He even put on his beer whip for the occasion and posed jauntily with one wheel on a large rock outcrop to show his expertise:

As the road leaves our camping area, it rises quickly through the steps that were once planned for some sort of residential lots.  As we looked back, we could see Buster far below with Lake Havasu in the background (yes, I know we already posted a view like this in another blog entry, but this is from a different perspective, and we find the scenery inspiring):

Once we had climbed over the pass and dropped down into the nearest wash, we followed the wash south, past this very idiosyncratic saguaro:

It is the beginning of Spring here in the Sonoran Desert, and this ocotillo was dressed in her finest, freshest green:

We climbed again from the wash toward Rovey's Needle.  We decided the last hill was steeper than we cared to challenge in the jeep, so we parked the little feller and climbed on foot.  If you look closely, you can see Kathy climbing along the side of the road, with the washes below and behind her:

From where our jeep was parked, we had a perfect view of Rovey's Needle, standing proudly on its own sandstone/volcanic hill:

Like all good needles, Rovey's Needle has an eye - a hole you can peer through, and even climb through.  This was our first view through the eye of the needle:

Kathy took this shot of David standing at the needle's eye, with the honeycomb weathering evident all around:

The photo below gives you a much closer view of the formation's honeycomb weathering.

Honeycomb weathering, named for the weathering's resemblance to a honeycomb, also is known as fretting, cavernous weathering, alveoli/alveolar weathering, stone lattice, stone lace or miniature tafoni weathering is a form of salt weathering common on coastal and semi-arid granites, sandstones and limestones. The honeycomb features can develop as fast as several centimeters in 100 years.  Honeycomb weathering occurs throughout the world from the polar regions to the equator.  The sources we've read suggest that salt air is generally required.  However, there is no salt air in the Sonoran Desert.  We wondered how, then, honeycomb weathering could occur here?  Research sources indicate that many washes in the southwest are dry for most of the year but are very rich in dissolved salts when they do flood. In desert environments, honeycomb weathering occurs predominantly along dry stream beds and canyons. When a flood comes through, even though the water may not be as saline as the ocean, it is still salty enough to form small salt crystals when it evaporates.  So, presumably, Rovey's Needle was once the wall of a canyon through which flash floods ran periodically, depositing mineral salts over a long enough time to create the honeycombs.

But enough about geology.  Here's a photo of Kathy looking for a creative view up to the peak of the needle.  She's lying on her back, oblivious to the impending doom behind her.

We, of course, had to try to crawl through the needle's eye, which we successfully did.  Kathy was the brave one to try it first, so she gets the honor of the photo of her triumphant return through the needle's eye.  Either she isn't rich or she'll be very adept at getting to Heaven.

After exploring Rovey's Needle, we climbed back down near the jeep and found a quiet spot with a view for lunch.  While we munched, we looked at things on the ground.  David found some beautiful buttercup-like flowers in full bloom --

-- and Kathy found some beautiful quartz rocks, which she set up in display to memorialize our lunch spot:

Our drive back to camp went without incident.  We won't bother to tell you about it, because it was the same as our trip out to Rovey's Needle, except backward.

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