Friday, March 11, 2011

Arizona Hot Springs - 3/11/11

The first outing for the combination of Over the Hill Hikers and the Around the Bend Friends was a huge success today as thirty-six hikers showed up for a loop hike down to the Arizona Hot Springs. The trailhead for this hike is in Arizona off of Highway 93 a few miles south of Hoover Dam. When they built the new portion of Highway 93, they gave us a new and improved paved parking lot for this and another trail called Liberty Bell Arch. The sign at the turn off says White Rock Canyon. This is the canyon we hiked down to get to the Colorado River. The canyon was beautiful with high walls on either side. There was a small bit of scrambling and the floor of the canyon was filled with fine gravel.

At around 2.75 miles, we reached the river at an area where people who kayak the river use as a camp- ground. We climbed along the river for a short distance, crossed a small inlet of water, and climbed over a small hill of rock to get to the area where the restrooms were. Here, we sat on the rocks at the river and enjoyed our snacks.

The only wildlife we saw on this hike were the river mallard ducks and a few lizards. Bighorn sheep are abundant in this area along the river but, today, they must of heard us coming. We didn't see any eagles either which have been known to have nests up on the cliffs. We did, however, see a large group of young people who were returning from their dip in the hot springs. I suppose one could argue that they were "wildlife."

After our break, the group divided in two. Eleven hikers returned up the canyon from which we came. The other twenty-five hikers climbed up through the hot springs canyon. Above is a collage of photos which show our hot spring experience. We climbed up through the warm water, climbed the new twenty-foot ladder, removed our shoes and began our walk through the hot pools. Most of us were bare footed with very tender feet. Therefore, the going was slow!

One hiker accidentally pulled down a few of the sand bags holding water in the second pool. This caused a torrent of water to flow downstream where the other hikers were still climbing through the small canyon below! A man named Ed, who had been enjoying a soak, helped us replace the heavy bags and we finished climbing up through the springs. The water got hotter and hotter as we neared the source. Thankfully, when the water got too hot to bear, we got past the spring and put our shoes back on. Fun! Fun! Fun!

After we regrouped, which took a while, we began our hike back to the cars up through another canyon which looked somewhat similar to the White Rock Canyon. This canyon was not quite as spectacular, however, it did have its interesting obstacles that we had to scramble up, over and around.

With about a mile and a half to go, we turned left to hike uphill on a trail which lead us up to a saddle. This climb was a 400 foot elevation gain; the toughest part of the hike. We rested on the spacious saddle area until all twenty-five hikers were up. Again, this took a while. From here, we hiked down to the wash where we had begun the hike six miles ago.

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