Thursday, March 25, 2010

Juniper Canyon - 3/25/10

It was a dim and windy day. A light layer of clouds covered the sky and wind gusted strongly from time to time. Fourteen hikers gathered trying to lighten the mood of the atmosphere with jokes and laughter. Friends. We parked at the Pine Creek parking area and headed toward the old Wilson homestead. Passing the foundation in short time, we crossed the heavily flowing Pine Creek and connected with the Arnight Trail.

The Arnight Trail took us up and around the escarpment until we neared the opening of Juniper Canyon, perhaps the steepest canyon of the escarpment of Red Rock Canyon. We took a right and followed the Juniper Canyon approach trail upwards. Juniper Canyon loomed in front of us.

The plants that we passed showed that spring is here, even though the day's weather was not letting us in on the secret. The chollas we couldn't help but brush past were huge and very healthy. The manzanita bushes were blooming with a sea of small white flowers. And, little tiny leaf buds could be seen on brush that had gone dormant for the winter. It's going to be a beautiful spring.

Soon, we were climbing Juniper Canyon's very steep wash filled with giant boulders. We tackled some pretty difficult scrambles. After the giant boulders came a very steep and slippery dirt trail, the reason we all brought hiking sticks. Looking back, we could see that we had already climbed quite a bit of elevation.

After the dirt trail, we entered into another section of boulder field with smaller rocks. It resembled a rock slide or avalanche from the towering walls above. At this point, Rainbow Wall could be seen in all its glory. It is a concave wall of luminescent colors which rises approximately 1000 feet above the top of the wash. Although it is a rock climbers dream, there were no rock climbers on this wall today.

Rainbow Wall.

Next, we "boarded" the sandstone slab which Juniper Canyon is famous for. The slab reaches all the way up to the base of the vertical walls at around a 45 degree angle. We climbed up the sandstone and sat for a snack in the wind shelter of some rocks. The view was tremendous.

Last, we left our perch and began the long climb back down to civilization. The total distance of the hike was almost 5 miles.

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