Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blue Diamond Canyons #2 & #3 - 4/29/10

"Scramb- ling" was the word for the day. Blue Diamond Canyons are filled with dry waterfalls, some of which require some thought in order to negotiate. The canyons are steep at times and have an abundance of plant life. Twelve hikers, which quickly turned into ten due to an injury, enjoyed the beauty of the hike which was laced with challenges.

We parked next to Highway 159 across from the Blue Diamond community where there is a utility building and fence gate. The gate was open and we marched through. Dropping down into Canyon #2, we immediately began our climb through a very rocky wash. The wind whipped at our backs until we finally hiked around a bend ....

In the photo to the left, Candice demon- strates how to scramble up the first real challenge. We hiked up to the source of the canyon for about a mile and a half. During this part of the hike, the sky was blue with a few clouds. The wind was chilly and the sun peered down into the canyon. At one point, an owl flew over us.

At the top of the canyon, we hung a left that required climbing onto the hilltop which was shared with the gypsum mining operation which will someday become the Rhodes' home community. What a shame.... We saw many different plant species that we do not see any other place on the Blue Diamond hills. For instance, pencil cholla and a ferocactus with a red "hat" unlike the common red barrel cactus. There were also a couple of flowering plants that we did not recognize.

After making the crossover, we dropped down into the top of Canyon #3 and began our descent back to the cars. The reason we use this canyon for the descent is illustrated in the three photos below. This waterfall is the tallest of the hike and we needed help from each other and a rope at this point.

Guy prepares. (Preparation is the key. Rope - check. Another rope - check. Someplace to put the rope(s) - check. Many people around you giving you instructions - check. Someone at the bottom that somehow got down another way without a scratch - check.)

Guy takes flight. (At this point, one just hopes that enough preparation was made. There's not much you can do once you commit to the descent except wish for a solid landing.)

Guy lands safely. (Here's where you breathe a small unnoticeable (you hope) sigh of relief.)

When we finished the hike by exiting Canyon #3 and crossing back over to Canyon #2, we had only travelled 3 miles. During the final half mile, quarter- inch hail had begun to fall so we were happy that the 3 mile hike, which seemed slightly longer due to the intense scrambling, was over.

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