Thursday, March 4, 2010

Waterfall Canyon - 3/4/10

The morning was colder than anyone expected. There were snow flurries in the air. The clouds hung low over the canyon leading up out of Willow Springs Picnic Area. The wind felt like it was blowing straight from the summit of Mt. Charleston. Twenty-seven hikers of the Around the Bend Friends braved the weather and began their hike up Rocky Gap Road.

We hiked at a brisk pace and soon began to warm up even if only slightly. The wind still cut to the core of our ears. One point six miles up the road, we came to a stream of water crossing the road which came from the small canyon to the right. This is Waterfall Canyon. Although the canyon appears very unassuming at first glance, around 100 feet up into it, all minds were changed.

Waterfall Canyon is a beautiful area filled with waterfalls year round decorated with red and orange stone in the stream bed and gray limestone on the slopes. It is located in an area of Red Rock Canyon called the La Madre Wilderness. This is also labelled a sensitive area by the Bureau of Land Management so we tread lightly and responsibly.

Two miles from the parking lot climbs the highest waterfall of approxi- mately 25 feet. This waterfall was still half in shade as it was still mid-morning. It is here that we stopped for a break. Some hikers went a bit further up canyon during the rest. We saw snow patches on the ground in the shadows but we were sheltered from the strongest winds. By this time, we were fairly comfortable and very glad we didn't cancel the hike.

We returned to the cars by retracing our steps down Rocky Gap Road. As soon as we arrived at the picnic area, the off and on snow flurries became a snow squall. The mountains and canyon we had just exited was nearing a small white-out. Just goes to show, the weather in Red Rock can be just as unpredictable as that of the Mt. Charleston area.

The GPS waypoint map below is of a previous hike to Waterfall Canyon when the adjacent wash was taken up to the canyon instead of the road. Today, we did a straight out and back hike utilizing the road both ways.

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