The starting point for this hike is at the end of the one mile gravel road that you access from Hwy. 178 just before Jubilee Pass. It was one of the most difficult and exhausting hikes that I have been on in the park, but probably just because it was such a hot day. Joe, Charlie, and I parked our vehicle at the clearly marked parking sign and then headed northwest into the entrance for Virgin Spring Canyon. After hiking for about 3 miles and gaining just over 1,000 feet in elevation, we found Virgin Spring. Apparently, the spring dried up a few years ago, but the park service extended its life by sinking a pipe into the spring that allowed at least a little water to come out of the rocks and collect in a tub for the benefit of wildlife. However, once again no water is coming out, as we found the tub to be completely dry. But there were still quite a few green mesquite trees growing in the wash, so they must have been getting water from somewhere.  The hike through Virgin Spring Canyon was quite pretty, with lots of flowers in bloom and colorful canyon walls.  After we left Virgin Spring Canyon, we continued hiking on the lower loop trail until we ended up a couple of hours later at the Desert Hound Mine. There was lots of interesting relics of old west mining operations around the area to discover, as you can see in some of the pictures down below. I'm not showing pictures of everything, because I think some of you will enjoy discovering things for yourself if you're ever up there. I thought it was too risky to enter Desert Hound Mine itself, because it looked too dangerous. It's not like a typical mine tunnel where you just turn on your light and walk in to get a look. You have to navigate a difficult slope with slippery rocks and one slip puts you at the bottom of a chasm. But it didn't matter, because there was plenty to see outside the mine and the hillside all around. After exploring, we made our way up to a ridge and had a great view of Ashford Mine down below. Then we climbed up to the top of Desert Hound Peak at 4,472 feet and signed in to the official log book. Not many people had been to this peak, according to the register, sometimes years would go by without somebody visiting.  Finishing up our hike, we began the long journey back to our truck, which was at the parking area for Virgin Springs Canyon. Charlie led us down and we decided to go off trail and follow an unexplored side canyon back down. It was extremely difficult as we had to navigate our way around about five huge dry falls. But with Charlie's help, we made it through all the tough parts. Once we got back to the truck, it was time to get some pizza and beer, and reflect on the success of this great hike.
This sign lets you know that you are parking in the right place for Virgin Spring Canyon.  Make sure you head for the correct canyon opening by going straight ahead past the sign:
It's a half of mile walk across the desert to reach the mouth of Virgin Spring Canyon:
There were so many flowers in bloom in this canyon during our visit, which took place on April 26, 2007:
The canyon walls had great formations and colors throughout:
This will give you an idea of the size of this beautiful white bloom:
Virgin Spring Canyon is the spring-time home of the Sacred Datura
(Datura wrightii)
The big rock in the middle marks the turn-off for Virgin Spring.  At this point, you want to head left, or northeast:
This cave shelter was next to the large turn-off rock:
An amazing contrast of colors in Virgin Spring Canyon:
The remains of an old rock wall were found:
As well as this historical pot and cooking platform:
More impressive colorful rocks and scenery in the side canyon which leads to the spring:
This is Virgin Spring.  The mesquite trees are obviously getting water from somewhere in order to stay green:
After checking out Virgin Spring, we climbed up this slope and looked back at the side canyon we had just come through and Virgin Spring Canyon in the distance:
Silva and Charlie glad that we're making progress on this hike, as we continued to Desert Hound Mine:
Our first view of Desert Hound Peak way off in the distance:
You can see the trail at the bottom of this picture, which leads directly to Desert Hound Mine:
The entrance to Desert Hound Mine.  We don't recommend that anybody tries to go inside here, because there is a dangerous chasm next to the entrance and a fall could be fatal.  I made sure to stay far away from the entrance:
We found historical cooking utensils at the mine site, as seen in the next two photos:
Various mining relics which can be found outside of the mine:
Steve holding up one of the larger cooking pots:
There were quite a bit of old cans and other mining relics which were scattered around a wide area:
This old pipe can be found by walking around the mountain northwest of the mine:
Another mine opening as you get further up the mountain:
This looks like an old water canteen:
More pots and pans.  Whoever worked the Desert Hound Mine sure loved to eat:
View from the smaller summit looking out towards Badwater Basin:
Looking down at Ashford Mine:
Steve on Desert Hound Peak at 4,472 feet:
The summit register is kept securely under these rocks:
An even better view of the surrounding area from the summit:
This is a photo of one of the many dry falls we encountered as we took an unexplored side canyon back to the starting point.  We had to climb down or find bypass routes for all of them.  Note to self- take the main trail back next time: