Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rattlesnake Canyon - 10/27/11

Today's hike was another special one. It was the first time that the club ventured into Rattlesnake Canyon; a narrow canyon found at the Willow Springs Picnic Area in the Red Rock Canyon NCA. As folklore would have it, the canyon was named "Rattlesnake" because a friend and long-time member of AtBF had once climbed into the canyon and almost placed his hand on a rattler that was lurking on the rock above. The story stuck and so did the name. It also serves as a reminder that, in rattler country, hikers best look before they place their hands.

So, we began our scrambling outing imme- diately out of Willow Springs. We learned right away that this canyon was a winner! The scrambling was top- notch. Not ridiculous, yet challenging. Most of the eighteen hikers were excited to scramble ahead of the coordinators and Becky and Edwina were okay with that. We were just warned that when the canyon provided a fork to the left, we should take it.

At the fork, a faint trail took us up to the base of a dripping waterfall as seen in the first photo. Here, there is a cleared area lined by rocks ... work of a previous visitor. The trail led up to the left and zigzagged to the top of that waterfall. We climbed up and began enjoying the beauty of a terraced canyon. This section was short- lived but after waiting for more of our group to join us, we continued up through another great wash and found the upper section of the terraces. This section of the terraces was longer. In fact, the writer believes it may be longer than the famous Terrace Canyon found above Pine Creek.

 An old pinion pine grows in the cold canyon. It is found between the two sections of terraces. The water that flows down the sandstone creates tiny terraces or stair steps. Moss grows on the rock making some of the water slides slippery.

We enjoyed climbing the terraces until we hit a wall ... literally. We tried to climb the slippery wall. We tried to climb the rocks up to the right. We tried to climb up the trail to the left. Even though we are sure that it can be done, today we were satisfied with the distance travelled which, by the way, was only around two miles. Oh, but what a great two miles!!

We took our break at the wall while contem- plating the difficult descent down the boulder filled wash. A few hikers decided to take a head start and approached the descent with a cautious slow speed. The slow speed was heeded by the rest of the hikers and one by one, we made our way back down to Willow Springs.

As an overall review of this canyon, it was decided that Rattlesnake Canyon is a combination of Ice Box Canyon (short, cold and great scrambling) and Terrace Canyon (the end game is very much worth the effort). As a post script, although this canyon has been plagued by graffiti in the past, most of the graffiti has been cleaned up. Hopefully, it will stay clean as this is one of Red Rock's beautiful little gems.

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