Thursday, March 12, 2009

Red Cap - 3/12/09

The hike to the top of Red Cap (seen above) or Turtlehead Junior, as it is affectionately called locally, began with nine hikers. A tenth hiker was added halfway up as he caught up from behind!

We started the hike out of Sandstone Quarry on the Red Rock Scenic Loop and hiked in a short distance of the Calico Tanks jaunt. Bearing left to head up a rocky wash, we left the main trail and began a series of scrambles up through a red layer of sandstone, then a white layer.

To the left is one of three "skinny man" scrambles. The footing is challenging for shorter legs but there's no denying that all the scrambles are fun. The last third of the short climb is probably the steepest. In the end, what Red Cap lacks in distance, it makes up for in an excellent work out. The total hike is less than three miles long but the elevation gain in the first mile is around 725 feet.

The Red Cap route is difficult, at best, to remember. This blogger has done the hike three times and would still feel uncomfortable leading a group to the peak! However, someone has recently made an attempt in the higher regions of the climb to place cairns in strategic locations to guide those attempting to find their way. Above, you can see two of the creative cairns.

The weather was okay. There was a cold wind until we got to the top of the rock. Then the warmth was allowed to come in. The sky was cloudy, but this only increased the perceived color of the surrounding landscape.

On reaching the peak, the group sat for a while to take in the tremendous view and have a middle morning snack. Conversation centered around anything and everything. Peering down from our perch, we noticed a tank we had not visited before. Perhaps it doesn't usually have water in it. This time it did and so did many other tanks in the area. So, we decided to see if we could reach the "new" tank on our "tour of tanks" on the way down.

Various methods are used in going down off of some of these steep rock mountain sides! The picture above demonstrates a few different ones. This blogger is often comforted knowing that she is BEHIND the camera. Her style is probably not quite so dainty as Caroline's! Any method that gets you up or down safely is an acceptable one. (And, Chris is always there to lend a helping hand.)

We found an easy way to hike over to the "new" tank and were rewarded with this view looking back at Red Cap where we had been seated moments before.

From the "new" tank, we climbed up to one of our regular tanks arriving from the backside of the tank. Here, the next two pictures were taken.

After, backtracking 100 yards to view an enclosed tank, we traipsed through the large empty tank below and headed down the mountain using a route near, but not next to, Mass Production Wall. (This wall mass produces bowling ball size boulders which cover the ground next to the bottom of the wall.) We hiked out by way of the Calico Tanks trail which we intersected at the bottom of the mountain.

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