Saturday, October 15, 2011

Calico Hills - 10/15/11

Today's hike at Red Rock Canyon NCA got twenty hikers out under the desert sun. Although the day was beautiful, it would have been nice if it had been an iddy biddy bit cooler! Even so, we began at the Red Rock Visitor's Center near the entrance off of Highway 159. Using the Moenkopi Trail, we made our way to the Calico I scenic loop overlook.

From there, we dropped down into the wash at the base of the huge frozen sand dunes called the Calico Hills and continued steadily climbing toward Calico II and, eventually, Sandstone Quarry. The views along this side of the park are colorful and fascinating. The red and white sandstone has many shapes, holes, canyons and boulders. We hiked the well-trodden trail admiring the hills as if we were seeing them for the first time.

These are petroglyphs found along the trail. Unfortunately, this particular boulder was broken up by passers by of many years ago and there are not as many carvings here as there once was.

When we got to Sandstone Quarry (which was packed with parked cars), we turned to the right and headed toward the sandstone wall next to the parking lot. Here, at the base of a popular climbing wall, there is a large crack in the sandstone (seen in the photo to the left) where we found an abundance of shade. There were many large rocks lying around on which we sat and took our break.

After our break, we returned to our cars using a different route between Calico II and Calico I, then again a different route between Calico I and the Visitor's Center. The entire hike was almost 6.5 miles with around 700 feet of elevation gain. This is a simple and beautiful hike that takes a lot of strength and energy in the hot sun.

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