Thursday, April 8, 2010

Little Zion (The Park) - 4/8/10

Another new hike for the Around the Bend Friends was added to our repertoire with twenty- three hikers and a beautiful day. We drove in caravan out Highway 160, turned right on Lovell Canyon Road, turned right again on the first gravel road and finally stopped at the end of the road to began hiking.

Following a small wash, we hiked on a gradual climb for about two miles. The scenery was filled with limestone, pines and junipers. The air was cool and the sky was sunny.

At the top of the climb, one by one, our breath was taken away as we crested the hill. Suddenly, the escarpment came into view right before us ... not unlike the feeling one gets as they approach the rim of the Grand Canyon. We had arrived at the top of Sandstone Canyon which leads down to the Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.

After taking a few pictures, we continued around the rim of the canyon and escarpment to the south. This brought us up in elevation to a ridge which turned out to be the lip of the encroaching limestone. Below us was a wide expanse of acres and acres of sandstone. To the left was Sandstone Peak and we began our descent through the final limestone wash.

We settled on a large area of sandstone to snack and a few hikers dispersed to explore. Exploration possibilities were plenty. A few of us went down the sandstone and found where the water emptied down the cliff. Then we climbed up to a large natural arch-in-the-making. Perhaps eons from now, people will be travelling to the Park to take sunrise pictures through the arch very much like Mesa Arch in Utah .... Okay, maybe not.

Our excursion brought us full circle back to the drainage which led back up to the ridge. This was the most difficult part of the hike as the drainage was very steep and the gain was approximately 500 feet. When we reached the ridge and giant cairn (as seen below), we waited for some hikers whose explorations took them further away.

As we hiked the return leg of the hike, the views of three surrounding snowy mountain ranges kept us company. To the right is a photo of Telescope Peak which is found on the far side of Death Valley.

Of course, Mt. Charleston of the Spring Mountains was in view throughout the hike. It's still covered in snow.

Last, but not least, Mt. Potosi was seen just across Highway 160 covered in fresh snow after the rain/ snow event we experienced last week.

On the way back, we took a small side trip to a spring where we found water bugs dancing on the crystal clear water. This was not our only wildlife sighting. Earlier, on the way to the trailhead, we saw two wild horses not far from the gravel road. We returned to the cars after 6 miles and 2000 feet of net elevation gain.

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