Friday, December 18, 2009

Lone Palm - 12/17/09

Finally ... sorry for the delay. Computer challenges.

Today, 18 hikers hiked the 4.5 mile trail to the Lone Palm on the Colorado River which is not far downstream from Hoover Dam. The trailhead is located in Arizona within all of the construction being done for the Hoover Dam by-pass bridge and approaching highway. However, once you hike out to the left and around the initial cliffs ledges and drop-offs, you are alone with the beautiful nature of the Black Canyon desert.

A new member of the hiking group spotted a small herd of big horn sheep up on the cliffs which we had just climbed around. We had begun dropping into the canyon when she shouted for our attention. We watched as about seven or eight big horns leapt up the wall giving us a near profile of themselves on the top of the cliff as each one reached level ground.

Each of the big horns had to leap across a small but high crevice near the top. If you look closely in the pictures, you can see one making this leap. The muscles in the legs and stomach are incredible. As you see in one picture, the leap required a bit of forethought .... Either that, or he/she was checking us out before he/she took off up the mountainside.

The climb down to the canyon was mostly done in a wash which had many dry waterfalls and boulders to climb over. The line of hikers began to spread out but the hike coordinator would often stop and do a head count to make sure we had not lost anyone. The scrambling was a full body workout for around a mile or two in length. At that time, we were almost to the river and the warm springs that came up in this area were apparent by the many tamarix or tamarisk trees and other scrub which were now yellow with the fall temperatures.

The hike today descended then ascended around 1200 feet in elevation.

At the river, we were presented with a gorgeous view of the lone palm, river and yellow colored vegetation as seen in the picture at the top. A few of the hikers went on down to see the famous waterfall that comes from the warm springs we had passed. On the way down, we saw these stalactites that were forming on the river wall from the mineral-filled water coming from the springs.

Also, down by the "Mighty Colorado" was the original "Lone Palm" which is, yes, dead. But, the lone palm did leave his legacy as there are at least eleven palms now growing in the area. Perhaps we should rename this hike "Eleven Palms!"

When we arrived at the river, one hiker had gone immediately down to the waterfall and was able to cross over to it on dry ground. During the next 10 minutes, water was let out of the dam and the pathway began getting covered with about 6 inches of water. When the blogger arrived at the pathway, she had to step over strategically placed rocks to get to the other side.

At the other side of the rising water, there was a small shore where the 15-foot waterfall flowed strong. To the left, I reluctantly show this horrible picture just to give an idea of how the waterfall relates to the river and shoreline. To return, we walked through the water seen next to the rock wall.

To begin the return to the cars, we crossed the warm springs and headed up the mountain- side towards the dam side. We climbed quite a bit and then dropped down quite a bit into the next big wash. During this traverse to the wash, we were met with a very interesting ladder-like dry waterfall which we ascended out of a box canyon.

At several high-points of the trail, we were able to look back in the downstream direction to see Liberty Bell Arch in the distance.

Near the end of the hike, the group split into two. One group chose to return via the old road that serviced the area long ago. It led up to Hwy 93 by way of a boulder climb then they were left with a 1/2 mile hike up the road. The other group, seen above, continued up the wash, climbed out of the ending box canyon and arrived close to the car park.

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