Thursday, February 22, 2018

Gold Strike Canyon - 2/22/18

Approaching Colorado River in Gold Strike Canyon (Archive)

The Hoover Dam Bridge from Gold Strike Canyon (Archive)

Near the Mouth of the Canyon (Archive)

Route to Heated Cove
 Seven hikers agreed that today's move from North Peak (Sandstone) in Red Rock Canyon NCA to Gold Strike Canyon in Lake Mead NRA was "inspired." It was a very cold morning in the canyon so we can only imagine what the temperatures were like at Willow Springs. Even the wind tried hard to deter the canyon hikers as they made record time in their descent. Coming back up was made much warmer as the wind lessened and the sun reached the canyon floor. (Not to mention the hard work using the five ropes on the climb.) News is that the ropes are in good condition at this time.

One of the Hot Springs Pools
 The canyon has changed in the last year. Some waterfalls are dry and others are flowing stronger. At this time, there are four man-made pools of hot springs water: Hidden Pool, Cave of Wonders, Grotto Pool, and Mud-Bottomed Pool.

Janet having fun Climbing Rope
 The hikers, today, tried not to get wet! When they reached the river, it was too cold in the open to take their break so they retreated to the side of one of the steamy pools to rest.

Anne Balancing the Stepping Stones

There is more water now than in this archive photo.
 Steve Allen took most of the photos in this entry. Thanks. The other photos are from Kay's 2014 archives. With the exception of the photo to the left, the archive photos reflect today's scenery. The waterfall to the left apparently has much more water flowing over it now. Even with the cold weather, everyone enjoyed the hike. It is a great strenuous canyon hike!

5 miles; 900 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Like a Pro - Do you have somewhere to be, George?

Three Part Crescent Climb

Nearing the Top of the Canyon

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Anniversary Narrows Peak & South Bowl - 2/17/18

South Bowl View from Anniversary Narrows Peak

Anniversary Narrows Peak from Lower South Bowl of Fire

Center Wash in South Bowl of Fire

Parking at the 0.5 mile Trailhead on Callville Road
 Another banner day of attendance for the Around the Bend Friends! Twenty-one hikers came out for a strenuous climb up to Anniversary Narrows Peak and a gentle beautiful descent down through the South Bowl of Fire. This area has had quite an upheaval of history in the past few years due to mining activity near one of Lake Mead NRA's most beautiful and unusual naturally occurring landmarks, Anniversary Narrows. The route that was previously used to climb the nearby peak on Lovell Ridge passed through that landmark, Anniversary Narrows, from the bottom through what is now mine property that cannot be trespassed.

Starting up the Murphy Wash
 At that time, we were able to exit the narrows and find a long curvy small canyon that led to a trailing ridge. Up the ridge to the saddle then up an exciting knife edge put us on what we called Anniversary Narrows Peak.

Pincushion and Turpentine Bush Blooming
 At the peak, a gorgeous bird's eye view of the South Bowl of Fire laid before us making it all worth the climb. In the beginning, this was an out and back hike; quite an accomplishment for us.

Hiking up Murphy Wash to the Crack Climb

Crack Climb from Below (center left)
 A few years ago, the long abandoned mine on the property below the narrows was bought by another company. At first, this new company wished to accommodate the hoards of hikers visiting the narrows. They tolerated the people and the cars which seemed to park nearer and nearer the narrows entrance causing havoc with the mining trucks and machinery. ... Then, one day, someone sued the mining company for damage when mining equipment struck their parked car. That was the end of easy access. Next, the mining company tolerated hikers traveling through a nearby canyon that sidestepped the busiest part of the operation. This new route was used by moderately strenuous hikers for two or three years.

Sticking to the Rocks on the Crack Climb
 Then our first choice became a route that hiked up to the peak from the back side. We found a fun crack to climb which put us up on the Upper South Bowl then we went up and over the peak. Down the knife edge to the saddle. Down the trailing ridge and the small curvy canyon. Down through the narrows then up through that side canyon and overland back to the cars. Easy peasy.

Straight Up (Sorry for the butt shot.)
 BUT, then, the mining company's beef with the BLM on ability to improve their road pushed them to cut off all access to the narrows to hikers through their land. Hmmm. Okay, now it's personal. The company land spreads far enough that there is essentially nowhere for hikers to get through to the bottom of the narrows. (And, yes, it is signed and guarded.)

Entrance to the Upper South Bowl of Fire

Wandering Rest
 Now, the narrows have become inaccessible to everyone except the most adventurous and stronger hikers. Thus, two different hikes have been born as a result. One will be debuted next month in the club but has already been blogged as the "Anniversary Narrows via New End Around Loop." And, the other route hikes only to the peak from the other side and descends down through the South Bowl of Fire. This is the one we debuted today. ... It was approved by all! Although it is deemed strenuous, there is no exposure (the knife edge is not involved in the route) or ridiculous predicaments. ... That is, unless you don't have proper hiking boots for the crack climb which is covered in "sticky" limestone. Everyone on the hike, today, was properly prepared.

Landmark Rock Formation
 We turned left off of Northshore Road at mile marker 16. The "road drop" off the plateau has returned to what it used to be like before that washout a few years ago. The mine company, apparently, no longer maintains this drop and somewhat of a high clearance vehicle is required.

Starting up toward the Trail
 After the drop, we stayed on Callville Road which veers right. From the drop to the trailhead, there is half a mile of fine gravel flat road. There is a cairn marking the trailhead which is the first wash of significance that opens out on the left side of Callville Road.

Climbing the Wash Trail

One of the Dry Falls in the Wash
 The large pointy peak to the north is affectionately called Murphy Peak (after one of our club members). The wash between this peak and the black wall to its west is our route that begins here. We'll call it Murphy Wash. We choose the wash to ascend because the upper terrain is filled with arroyos; even though the wash is filled with rocks and gets a little twisty sometimes. Soon, we were able to see the crack we were to climb on the left black wall. As we neared the crack, we noticed a cairn on the left that led us up to a small ridge that was easier to navigate for about fifty feet. At an arroyo, we dropped back in the wash then, again, stepped out climbing up toward the bottom of the crack.

Lovell Ridge (above R) and Lake Mead (far L)
 We had a few newbies to the crack today and it got a little quiet when the old hats started up. Basically, the "sticky" rock is very steep so we appeared as a bunch of little spiders climbing up the stone! Near the overhanging rock at the top, the stone gets a little loose so it is best to take every step carefully. One by one, we hung a right just past the overhang.

The Hill part of the Climb
 We were in redstone now. The route finds a vague game/hiker trail that leads over to the flatter terrain of Upper South Bowl. Giving everyone a small breather, we wandered around looking at the cliff overlooks for just a minute or two.

Our Route through South Bowl from the Peak

Lake Mead from Peak
 We wandered in the direction of the uphill bypassing a hill or two. Turning one corner, we saw the hoodoo landmark and made our way there for a really nice overlook of South Bowl. From here, keep wandering around and up to catch the trail that traverses right to left. This brought us to the "funnel"; our later descent route. Staying above on the trail, we noted an old very large cairn ahead of us. This is where the trail drops into the wash on the left. And, ... up we went! The wash is easy to climb until it isn't. The dry falls in the wash can be climbed on their left sides until the last one which we climbed on the right. There is a lot of loose rock around these falls since other hikers use a couple of different trails.

Some of the Peakers
 At the top of the wash, there is still more "hill." It is always difficult to know exactly where the peak is until you are there ... due to the slope angle. Rule: Don't go to the right! There is a cliff there.

Carefully down the Wash
 At the peak, we were able to sit for a break and take in the gorgeous views all around us. The South Bowl of Fire view is one of the most beautiful in the Lake Mead NRA. (See the first photo of this entry.) We could also see Lake Mead in the distance. On the other side of Lovell Ridge, we saw the Muddy Mountain Wilderness and the entrance to the narrows. So close yet so far away.

Starting down the Funnel

Mid-View in Funnel
 The descent down the Hill and the Wash were slow and careful. Pretty steep stuff. Finally, we returned to the top of the Funnel. Although we had heard that the Funnel had been used before for a descent into the Lower South Bowl, this would be our first time as a club. None of us really knew what to expect. Yes, a little steep but really, it was very doable! Start on the downhill end of the funnel and descend to a small step down. From there, work your way down the right and the middle of the funnel. Slowly and carefully, we all reached the bottom. The front hikers were sunbathing when the tail end arrived! It was a perfect day for hiking! Next, we found use trails and game trails that led to the top end of a wash that flowed down the center of the South Bowl of Fire. (We tried not to step in the cryptobiotic soil but it was difficult.) When we found the Center Wash, we started down to the north. Ah, what a beautiful gentle colorful wash! It was akin to floating down a river with gorgeous scenery on either side! Could have stayed in that wash all day! Well, ... anyway.

Descending from Funnel to Center Wash
 From the Center Wash, we looked to our left and saw Anniversary Narrows Peak. What you can't see when you are climbing it, is the cliff face that drops into the South Bowl. Very formidable! (See second photo of this entry.)

Center Wash
 So, as we were sailing down the Center Wash, enjoying its beauty and flow, we passed another group of hikers from a different hiking group. They were there to enjoy the South Bowl only. Later, we passed a smaller group. (Did I mention it was a great day to hike?)

Hiking down Center Wash (Peak in Background)

Tafoni Rock in South Bowl of Fire
 The Center Wash curved around to the right and eventually merged into a main wash. This main wash curved around a familiar landmark rock and dropped down a long remembered easy obstacle. From there, we caught the trail that cut off a big curve in the wash and emptied out onto Callville Road at a gate that prohibits off-roading. To get back to the cars parked down the road, we hiked 1.25 miles using short cut routes on the wide curves of the road. Although the group spread out on this last leg of the hike, we were all hiking pretty fast. It was a good workout after a good workout! A great day in the Lake Mead NRA! Now we just had to get our cars back up that road drop! ... No problem.

6 miles; 1400 feet elevation gain; 4.25 hours

Twenty-One at Main Wash Junction

The Drop Out

Exiting South Bowl to Callville Road