Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ash Meadows & Red Springs Loop Hybrid - 5/1/10

Thirty- one hikers hiked the trail from the Red Springs parking lot to Ash Meadows today. Ash Meadows is an area at the base of Ash Canyon which is bisected by a small drainage which often has water. There are many Ash trees in the area and right now, they have large canopies with bright green leaves.

The hike was lead in a semi- loop fashion which meandered through the meadow and below the Calico Hills. The total distance for the hikers who only hiked this portion of the hike was around 3.2 miles. We took a break at the base of Ash Canyon on this gorgeous morning.

During our break, explorers discovered a small tortoise who quickly grew impatient with us and retreated partly into his/her shell. At that point, we left it alone as we didn't want to stress it out. We also saw small irises, cliffrose, a yucca bloom, beaver tail cactus blooms and hedgehog cactus blooms.

After the break, we hiked up a hill to skirt around the meadow of ash trees and returned on a similar path back to the cars. Four hikers broke off from the group as we approached the Red Springs rock fall or the entrance to Angel Pass. Whatever you wish to call this saddle, it turned out to be simply the jumping off point to an amazing hike!

The four hikers climbed up the rock fall admiring the views and taking breaks when necessary. It was quite a scramble. The photo to the left shows the view looking back toward Calico Basin. The air over Las Vegas was clean as the terrible winds of the last few days had swept the city. (Silver lining, and all that!)

When we reached the top of the saddle, we eyed the crevice up to the right. Hmmm! "Okay, let's go!" we said, not entirely unanimously. One member of the group had done this hike a while back so we felt confidant that what we were eyeing was doable and up we went.

It was very steep and there were places which were quite a challenge. We went under boulders and up the side of others. The climb was very exciting!

We reached the top of this part of the Calico Hills and we could see almost 360 degrees around ourselves. We found a spot out of the wind and took a large break; very proud of ourselves, I might add!

Next, we began hiking down the other side of the summit and headed toward the Calico Basin side of the Calico Hills. It was, again, steep but the exposure was at minimum for the most part. Sometimes the hike turned into an exploration.

We knew we wanted to find the wash that leads down from the main Calico tank to Calico II so we continued in that direction in as much a direct route as possible. We found ourselves passing by a very nice campsite, complete with a grill over the fire pit and a stack of firewood. After traversing a particularly hairy exposed five feet, we came within sight of our goal.

Descending the steep wash down to Calico II, we came even in altitude with a rock climber on a rock wall not far away. There were many rock climbers out today at every turn. We reached the bottom and looked up at the saddle where we took our right turn. Then we headed down the wash which flows next to the Red Rock scenic loop.

We followed the wash and trails and the wash until we started our ascent to cross over to the Calico Basin Red Springs parking lot where we left our cars. Approximately 5.5 hours after we began the club hike, we had hiked and scrambled around 5.5 miles ... and enjoyed every minute of it!

The Ash Meadows hike alone.

The entire hike for both groups.

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