Thursday, November 11, 2010

Black Velvet Canyon - 11/11/10

Black Velvet Canyon is found between Black Velvet Peak and Monument Peak along the escarpment of the Red Rock Canyon NCA. The hike begins on the Late Night Trail found on the north side of Highway 160 at Cottonwood Valley. It was here that twenty hikers from the Around the Bend Friends began the 7.75 mile, 4.5 hour hike. We hiked around the small hill found on the north side of the parking lot and through the desert on fairly flat terrain.

We crossed two or three washes that provided a small amount of down and up then reached the dirt parking lot for Black Velvet Canyon. There were several cars parked here. Rock climbers enjoy the walls of this canyon. When we dropped down into the mouth of the canyon, we could see the climbers high up on the wall to our left. They appeared as ants, very small. One climber had a red coat on so we used him to keep track of them while we bouldered our way up through the canyon which was filled with humongous boulders. As we scrambled, updates on the climbers were called out along the line periodically.

Although the distance we climbed within the canyon was not far, it was far enough to give us a good workout among the rocks. We went as far as the rope (seen below) and sat down for a snack. A couple of us tried our hand at climbing the roped wall. While we were resting, another group of rock climbers lithely went by. They didn't use the rope but climbed up to the next level on the rock up to our left.

After our break, we returned down through the canyon via a little used trail up on the Black Velvet side of the wash. Eventually, we had to come back down to the wash and we made our way back to the approach trail. We turned right onto the Black Velvet Bike Trail, crossed onto the Late Night Trail and circled around the initial hill on the opposite side from which we began the hike. Even though the hike had a lot of flatness involved, we all agreed that the distance and tough bouldering made up for the lack of elevation change in the desert portions of our hike.

As a footnote: A news story was just released that human remains (a spine) were found "near" the Black Velvet Canyon area around 2:30pm by the rock climbers. Our group had returned to the parking area and left around 1pm. (We were all accounted for.)

The photo above was placed on a TV website. It was presumably taken by one of the rock climbers we saw on the wall. Pretty creepy, huh? In the story, they said the spine was found wrapped in a shirt further up in the canyon from where we stopped our climb. They are investigating the find for any possibilities.

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