Thursday, March 17, 2011

Calico II / Red Cap Loop - 3/17/11

It was a dim and cloudy day but fourteen hikers barely noticed the weather. We began at the Calico II Overlook on the Scenic Loop of Red Rock Canyon NCA. We took the Grand Circle Trail for about a mile up to the Sandstone Quarry parking area.

From there, we headed out the Calico Tanks Trail and turned off at the usual spot where we would begin the Red Cap climb. Red Cap is a wonderful scrambling hike up the side of a sandstone peak which tops off the yellow rock with red rock. If you look at this red rock peak from the side, you can decipher the shape of a turtle. This is why this peak is also called Turtlehead Junior.

We took a break on the top of Red Cap then came down off of the peak to tour four tanks on the tank level. Passing by one of these tanks, one hiker thought he saw a hawkasaurus .... What's that? I don't know but I hope I don't see one at night. Anyway, we checked in on the large tank that we usually use for our descent and it was still pretty full of water.

So, we found our way over the rock and continued our descent down by Mass Production Wall. At the bottom, we connected with the Calico Tanks Trail again and proceeded to climb up to the Main Calico Tank where we took a right turn UP.

Finding a wash to scramble up, we climbed to the top of Calico II Peak where we were able to see the Scenic Loop, Calico II and Sandstone Quarry. We enjoyed the view for a few minutes while we took a second break. The sandstone up here looks like rippled mounds and there are three tanks all filled with water.

We returned to the main tank area the same way we went up, then began our steep descent back to Calico II by way of the far end of the main calico tank. This steep scramble down the sandstone mountain is mostly done in dark red sandstone. Today, our group spread out and each hiker chose his or her own path. Chris found a particularly challenging way down and took three hikers with him. Stories were compared at the bottom then we all headed back up to the Calico II parking area.

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