Friday, May 13, 2011

Hollow Rock Peak - 5/12/11

There were fifteen plus one hikers on the hike to Hollow Rock Peak today. Fifteen hikers completed the hike as planned and one hiker spent the day above the escarpment exploring. We began the hike at the parking area amid a grove of pines near the top of the Mountain Springs Pass off Highway 160. The first mile is nearly a constant "up" but the fifteen seasoned hikers made short work of it.

At the top of the mile, we turned to our right for the Hollow Rock Peak Trail. Turning the the left are trails taking you to Mountain Spring Peak and Windy Peak. Our trail took us up a little further where we reached the high point of the hike. As we continued to follow the limestone ridgeline, the trail undulated up, down and around until we reached the limestone / sandstone conversion line.

The facade of the Red Rock Canyon NCA escarpment is made of sandstone. Behind it, a slowly creeping layer of older limestone forms an actual line. One side of the line is gray (limestone) and the other side is either red, white or yellow (sandstone). This can be seen in the panorama photo below. We continued our hike on the beautifully colored sandstone ridge with quite a bit of scrambling included in the experience. At one point, the hikers divided into two groups. One group used the traditional route and the other group found interesting scrambling opportunities near the ridge where exposure was more of an issue.

We converged near the peak and made our way to the large rock at the end of the ridgeline. While many hikers were content to enjoy the scenery of Windy Peak, the Calico Hills, the Las Vegas Strip and Mt. Potosi, four hikers climbed the rock hanging above the cliff of the escarpment. "Up" is easy. It's the "down" part that is challenging.

One by one, the four hikers scaled the side of the rock back down to the bottom where other hikers talked them through the hand holds and foot holds. In the photo below, you can see one of the hikers making his descent with several interested onlookers. Through the entertainment, the rest of us wrote in the log book, ate our snacks and sunned ourselves on the large cliff rock nearby.

After our break, we returned over the red, yellow, purple, pink and orange sandstone then began a descent down to an old abandoned service road. The road led down to a service road which parallels Highway 160 for a short distance and we turned on it to return to the cars. Even though it is never real pleasant to hike on dirt roads, this route is preferable to making the steep descent on the route that we came up. The hike is a good one even though it is only 4.8 miles with around 1300 feet of net elevation gain. We did the hike in about four hours.

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