Thursday, December 3, 2009
Juniper Canyon - 12/03/09
Nine hearty hikers were absolutely "WOW-ed" by a chilly hike into Juniper Canyon today!
We began the hike at the Pine Creek Trailhead off of the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop. Passing the old Wilson house foundation, we caught the Arnight Trail which led over to the lead-off for Juniper Canyon. On the way over, we spied an elk carousing among the chollas on the canyon floor between us and the Oak Creek parking area. We were amazed to see an elk this far down in elevation as they usually reside in the higher altitudes of the Spring Mountains.
After 1.75 miles, we, finally, dropped down into the Juniper Canyon wash where we immediately began some really tough scrambling over large boulders up a steep incline. There were a few spots where some of the hikers needed a helping hand. The challenge was enjoyed by everyone as the wash got steeper and steeper.
Soon, we had to climb a large rock fall up to a level made of sandstone slab which was inclined at about 30 to 60 degrees. The exposure created by the sandstone was exhilarating as our hiking boots held on well to the rock.
Our climb ended near the rock face on the right side of the wash in an area where it was obvious that big horn sheep frequented. There were many prickly pear and agaves growing on the steep slope in the sun.
Another point of interest loomed large on the left side of the wash. Rainbow Wall, a popular and challenging rock climbing destination rose about 1000 feet above the wash. If you looked closely, you could see different colors in the rock. Beyond our view and higher into the canyon wash, is Gunsight Notch. A little further is where Juniper Peak is located. (Definitely a hike for another day!)
We sat, contentedly, on the sandstone slab eating our lunch and enjoying a spectacular view of the Red Rock Canyon floor and beyond. The hike down was strenuous and we took a slightly different route back to the Pine Creek parking area. The hike today was almost five miles with an elevation gain of around 1300 feet.