Thursday, February 11, 2010

Virlis Fisher Arch & Bridge Spring Arch - 2/11/10

Two groups of 12 plus 3 hikers ... okay, 27 hikers, ...travelled south almost to Nelson, Nevada to hike a 4.75 mile hike to Virlis Fisher and Bridge Spring Arches. The hike began with a chilly wind but the weather warmed up within the first hour. Hiking through a series of washes which were puddled with flowing water, we crossed the desert landscape.

Our first point of interest, after bush- wacking through the cacti and creosote was a small cave with a wide mouth sitting high on a hillside. It appeared the cave may have been used as a lair at one point or another. From there we dropped back down into a main wash and climbed up the other side where we got our first view of the arch we had come to see.

After taking a deep breath, we started out over the desert. The trail had all but disappeared as we trekked up, down and around for another mile. The last part of the trek began with a steep climb up to the foot of the ridge line. The terrain was slippery with scree. At the foot of the limestone ridge, we turned right and made our way along the rough uneven path. To the left, see a view from this point toward the arch.

The final approach to the arch which sat about 30 feet above the foot of the ridge was a fun scramble up rock with quite a bit of scree laying around. The climb, however, was clearer than in past years and is probably due to the heavy rain we have had lately. The scramble brought us right up to the arch where we spread out, took our break, explored and took various photographs.

After exhausting many possibilities on how to enjoy the perch we had acquired, we went back down the scramble or found an "easier" route through a steep scree-filled wash. We descended the steep grade and trekked back up to the main wash via a slightly different "oops" route. The uneven non-trailed terrain was taking a toll on more than a few legs!

From the main wash, we caught the trail again, negotiated an extremely slippery hill on which we all had a bunch of fun and traversed over to yet another wash which also held water. Here, we followed the wash down for about 1/2 mile to visit Bridge Spring Arch or, as it is affectionately called by the old timers, Nelson Arch.

At Nelson Arch, we searched for a geocache that one of our veteran members had placed there but it was not where it was before. We never found it. The view down-wash from the natural bridge and toward the Colorado River is seen to the left. While we visited, two of our hikers found their way to the top of the sandstone bridge. Others searched for camera angles.

Part of the journey back to the cars from here, was marked by a trail. We hiked the trail back to the highway. This area is pretty much in the middle of nowhere but we all agreed that the beauty of the desert is represented here from all perspectives.

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