Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blue Diamond Canyons 2 & 3 (also, Pine Creek) - 12/11/10

The Blue Diamond Canyons are located directly across highway 159 from Blue Diamond, Nevada. Counting the canyons from right to left, twenty- three hikers climbed canyon #2 and descended canyon #3. The canyons are both filled with wonderful challenges of scrambling which we all tackled with enjoyment. Across the highway at the escarpment, the second hike was taking place at Pine Creek and the Fire Ecology Trail where a talk would be given by Chris on the area's interesting history.

Parking just off the highway at the fenced in utility building, we climbed through the barbed wire fence until someone was able to open the gate. Then we dropped down into canyon #2 to the right of the building. The scrambling began immediately up through the fossil inlaid limestone canyon. Its walls rose up to fifty feet on each side and both canyons were quite narrow at times. The beauty of the canyons was unexpected to those that had not experienced this hike before today. In the opinion of the writer, this hike is arguably the second best three miles of scrambling offered in the Red Rock Canyon NCA. (The first being Red Cap.)

Dry waterfalls appeared at many twists and turns. Some of these obstacles were a bit daunting. However, many of us were able to negotiate them without having to take the path up the walls and around. At one waterfall, someone has anchored a permanent rope to aid in the climb. Other than that, we were able to make it up through canyon #2 without any help from added rope.

The hike up the canyon did not end until the gypsum mining operation was visible up the hill to the right and the canyon came to a dead end. Here, we hung a left and scrambled up the steep hill to perch on top of the Blue Diamond Hills for our snack break. Our view toward the south looked like the photo below. The sun was out in full force and some of us actually got quite warm. It is a mild December here in the southwest.

As we dropped down into the neighboring canyon #3, we found a couple of old animal bones as seen to the left. (At least, we assume they were from animals!) Other interesting stuff that we saw today included a jack rabbit, several shellfish fossils and possible dinosaur footprints. Yes, we have a little imagination but, you never know! Canyon #3 offered its own set of dry waterfall obstacles, one of which was quite difficult to negotiate. We used a rope and a little help from our friends.

The canyon gave us many steep descents. This portion of the hike was filled with a lot of cats claw and velcro bushes. Hikers don't appreciate either of these hindrances. Eventually, we made it to the bottom where a trail led us across the desert and back to our cars at the utility building with all twenty- three of us accounted for.

Blue Diamond Canyons

Pine Creek Loop and Fire Ecology Trail

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