Friday, February 12, 2016

Sea World II Exploratory - 2/11/16

Shamu Lives!

Today's Target from Northshore Summit

At Northshore Summit

"We'll be there sometime this afternoon."
 Due to the length of this exploratory hike into the realms of Sea World in the Lake Mead NRA, many photos have been posted. Enjoy!

Twelve hikers began their day at mile marker 20.5 on Northshore Road where they climbed up to the ridge on the Northshore Summit Trail. After surveying our target route in the distance, we hiked out the trail and dove down into the small wash. A left turn took us to a larger wash. Then a right turn put us on Callville Road; a high clearance dirt road.

The Northshore Summit Trail

Down the Small Wash

Down the Larger Wash

Up Callville Road
 An option for this hike is to drive the dirt road up to the camel tracks landmark. This area is part of the Horse Spring Formation that is prominent in containing fossils. When we reached the camel tracks, we took our photos then proceeded up the wash bearing to the left at a colorful intersection. There were a few small dry falls to contend with as we squeezed up a few slots. Then the wash opened out and we began seeing spots of red rock popping up as we curved around. We could see the two peaks in the distance that are associated with the Sea World hikes.

Fossilized Tracks found throughout the Hike

Sea World Wash

Into the Red (Orange) Rock
 The red rock became abundant as we moved up the wash. There were many formations on either side. Suddenly, we found ourselves in a very nice small slot. At the end of this slot, there is a climb up that can be accomplished in a chimneying fashion. One hiker decided it was a good opportunity to practice a little spanning. (Photo below.) The rest of us used a helping hand. After the slot, we came to a wide junction. Taking the right fork, we continued up a little further then exited the wash for our overland section of the hike.

Slots in Sea World Wash


Exiting the Main Slot

Heading Toward Sea World II Peak
 In the distance, we could see the canyon between the two large Sea World peaks. We began heading straight for the break. Some of us found a very old game trail to follow. We could only tell it was game trail because there were no plants growing along the path. But, it proved to be very useful since it led us in and out all of the many arroyos in the easiest ways. Other hikers in the group circled around the mound on the right side of the game trail. There was so much land to cover that the distance was probably similar.

Starting Climb to Saddle between Peaks

Interesting Outcrop on the Way

Target in Sight
 We continued following very vague game trails all the way up to the saddle. We had to cross many shallow arroyos that emitted down from the peak to the left. The capable group of hikers arrived at the saddle within a couple of minutes of each other. Here, there was some discussion about the best route for climbing the peak on the left side. Although there is a slightly more gentle slope on the back side of the peak, the four hikers who wished to climb up decided to go up from the saddle where they would lose less elevation beforehand.

Everyone Arrives at the Saddle

On the Saddle

Four Peak Climbers and Their Adventure

Circling the Base of the Peak
 The remaining hikers dropped down over the other side of the saddle to begin circling the peak's base. Circling the base proved to be very interesting. This route puts you in a desolate area neighboring the Muddy Mountains. There was evidence of a resident wild horse and/or burro but we didn't see any wildlife. We passed a very large cairn made from a natural outcrop near the base of the before intended route up to the peak. Too interested in the surrounding landscape, none of us really wanted to climb. So we continued circling and found the main wash to do so.

Passing Very Large Cairn

Muddy Mountains rise Behind

Different Bedrock
 This wash had some very interesting bedrock as seen in the photo to the left. We easily hiked it following a wild horse/burro trail. Eventually, the trail took us up to the small ridges where we were guided by a large pointy rock outcropping ahead of us. This was the north side of Shamu, the star of Sea World. From this side, it doesn't look like anything but it was today's high point and, also, where we would have our break and wait for the peakers. After about fifteen minutes, the peakers came barreling down from the ridge above guided by the large wash we sat above.

Sea Turtle Sighting

Waiting for the Peak Climbers

Starting Down

Many Nice Clumps of Barrel Cacti
 Our hike resumed by dropping down that huge wash that flows beneath Shamu. After several minutes of rock negotiating and squeezing through more bedrock, we turned around to take a last look at Shamu. Fantastic! Now we got it! Yes. It looks like a breaching killer whale. (It would be nice to approach this anomaly from the south side.) So, we continued down the wash until it junctioned with a larger wash near the square peak that is the high point of Lovell / Anniversary Ridge. Here, we turned to the left and began heading into red rock again.

Descending the Wash

Bedrock Portal

Nearing the Red Rock Wash
 By this time of the day, we were all pretty spent but we still had to get back to the cars on Northshore Road. So we hiked down the wide wash enjoying the scenery, junctioned at the fork with our previous path, dropped down through the slot ... then tried our luck at going overland to shorten the trip back to the camel tracks. We found a short steep wash to drop down but others needed an easier way down. So, we backtracked and found one. Next, another attempt was made to cut the route short by going overland.

Hiking into the Red Rock

Red Rock Meets Desert

Sea World II Peak

Junctioning with Sea World Wash
 With all the washes and steep embankments, this resulted in more energy output than necessary. When we finally reached the hill going back up to the Northshore Summit, most of us were struggling. It was a very good feeling when we started coming down off of the hill and into the parking lot! What a fantastic day of learning and seeing stuff that was always out of reach before! This whole area could be further explored ... but, maybe, in smaller pieces!

12.5 miles; 1950 feet elevation gain; 7.25 hours

Our "Short Cut" Routes back to the Cars

Late Afternoon Desert Sun

The Wave says Bye-Bye

Shorter Route from the Camel Tracks

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Lone Grapevine Springs Canyon & Exploratory - 2/6/16

Lone Grapevine Canyon between Hollow Rock and Windy Peaks

Lone Grapevine Canyon Wash

View North in Cottonwood Valley

Hiking Out the Outer Loop
 Twelve hikers arrived for an exploratory hike in Cottonwood Valley starting from the Late Night Trailhead on the north side of Highway 160. Although we have hiked to Lone Grapevine Springs and the Petroglyphs at Muddy Springs many times, we have never explored further into Lone Grapevine Canyon with the exception of the annual trip for the strenuous hikers up the front of Windy Peak. There are also a few small trails that are off the beaten path that looked intriguing and needed to be followed.

The Upper Tunnels
 We began by hiking up by Highway 160 on the Outer Loop bike trail all the way to the Upper Tunnels. We found this stretch of the route unpleasant due to the noise of the cars whizzing past and the smell of their exhaust fumes.

Crossing a Wide Gravel Wash
 When we finally reached the Upper Tunnels that led under the highway to the left, we turned off to the right and began hiking into the valley toward the escarpment.

Following the First Small Trail

Sunlight in Chollas
 There should be a short trail that connects the Outer Loop trail to the dirt road and wash beyond as we neared the escarpment. There isn't, so we bushwhacked a short way over, crossed the wide gravel wash and found a small trail that led along the wash on the west side. This trail was very pleasant and did not hold the threat of passing bicycles. It balanced on a small ridge above the wash heading toward a small parking area on the dirt road that serves the aforementioned Windy Peak hikers. Near the parking area, we turned onto a main trail to the left.

Trail to Lone Grapevine Canyon
 This trail took us directly over to the Lone Grapevine Springs that is surrounded by a protective wooden fence. Several hikers in our group had not seen the springs so we stopped here for a moment.

Lone Grapevine Springs
 We returned to the trail and started following it up into the canyon to our left. This is the Windy Peak trail and it climbs along the base of the peak above.

Small Trail to Windy Peak Climb

Leaving Trail to Drop in Wash
 We came to a definite point of decision on the trail and turned down to our left to find a way into the canyon wash. This was no easy task. The canyon wash is protected by thick brush on both sides. Perseverance plopped us into the sandstone boulders and gravel. From there, we began our descent. The wash is great fun but it would have been more fun if there wasn't so much brush. We learned that the wash was the best way to go ... and, sometimes the only way to go.

Lone Grapevine Canyon
 Almost all of the scrambling was moderate with the exception of one particular drop that we had to skirt around. This is where we began finding ticks clinging to our clothes. By the end of the hike, we had removed a total of fifteen of the little buggers.

Lone Grapevine Canyon
 The group of moderate hikers handled the scramble slowly but very well.

Lone Grapevine Canyon

Nearing the Trail Junction
 By the time we reached the point of the trail junction, the moderate scramblers were very ready for a break! Refreshed for the second half of the hike, we turned left up the trail that carried us over to the water trough, Muddy Springs and the petroglyphs. Again, we took a cursory glance at these things not wishing to spend much time enjoying the anomalies. They are for another hike called Lone Grapevine Spring. So we hiked past the trough up the hill to the fenced in springs area.

Wildlife Water Trough
 We hiked through the petroglyph area noting the few petroglyphs that you can see from the trail.

Cowboy Petroglyphs
 Then dropped down to connect with a small trail that headed to the north. This trail led along the base contour of the peak above, crossed a drainage, then took a decided turn down to the right.

The Second Small Trail

Passing Muddy Springs Canyon
We followed the trail down the descending ridge, crossed two washes and a burro trail at the bottom then junctioned with the Black Velvet Trail right where it reaches that dirt road. From here, it was a simple familiar 2 mile return around the hill to our left and back to the cars. It was a fun morning of exploration. We learned a lot and are ready for further exploration in the canyon. (Next time, maybe we should bring clippers!)

7 miles; 1100 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

On Return Trail

Return Trail

Nearing the Last Junction