Thursday, March 24, 2011

Juniper Canyon - 3/24/11

Jerry's photo of Juniper Canyon, today, shows Rainbow Wall to the left, Gunsight Notch behind the large pine tree in the middle and snow dusting the brush and boulders in the middle of the canyon as he neared the sandstone slab at the top. Thanks for the photo, Jerry!

Today's hike into Juniper Canyon was very cold! Red Rock got snow last night and the peaks of the park were beautifully dusted with the white stuff. The arctic blast of wind was still lingering and we didn't find relief until the seventeen hikers of the day entered between the walls of the canyon.

We began at the Pine Creek parking area off of the Scenic Loop of Red Rock NCA. After quickly hiking down to the old Wilson homestead ruins, we stopped for a moment for people to catch up, bandage an ankle and get a drink of water. We crossed a very full and flowing Pine Creek then headed up the hill on the Arnight Trail. The trail for Juniper Canyon, the next canyon over to the south, takes off to the right a bit further up.

At the mouth of the canyon, the hiker with the bandaged ankle, (me), decided to forgo the scramble to the top where the sandstone slab provides a lot of excitement and scenery. While this hiker waited sitting on a large rock, a helicopter came along exploring the side of the escarpment above. Trying not to attract attention lest the helicopter think that it was I who asked for assistance, I sat very still and took a couple of pictures. Finally, after eyeing me closely, the helicopter left to explore another part of Red Rock. We hope it found the injured party.

In the canyon above, the rest of the group found flowing water on parts of the sandstone slab. There were also patches of snow and a rumor that a snowball fight ensued. The photo to the left and below were both taken last year. Rainbow Wall is a challenging climbing wall found to the left of Gunsight Notch which is the top of the middle of the canyon. Sitting on the sandstone slab provides a great view out of the canyon toward the Blue Diamond Hills.

There were many rock climbers in the area who appeared to be unbothered by the chill in the air. They are possibly leftover visitors from the recent Red Rock Rendezvous event. Juniper Canyon and Pine Creek Canyon are only two of the many popular rock climbing areas at Red Rock. In fact, anywhere there's a sandstone wall, someone has probably tried to climb it and name it.

The group returned to the opening of the canyon, picked up the waiting hiker (me), and hiked back to Pine Creek by way of a short cut using part of the Fire Ecology Trail. The air was beginning to warm up a little and the snow was already melting. A beautiful hike on a beautiful day in Las Vegas.

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