Monday, December 26, 2011

Grand Staircase of Calico Hills - 12/26/11

Well, we never knew that a mile and a half could be such fantastic fun! Today, eleven hikers got together to do a new hike called the Grand Staircase of Calico Hills. The hike is located on the southern end of the Calico Hills of Red Rock Canyon NCA and begins from the Red Springs Picnic Area parking lot. The sandstone we crawled around on today is of the red and white striped variety. Therefore, ... "Calico" Hills.

We hiked almost directly up to the base of the sandstone from the parking lot and began the "staircase" climb up a ramp- like area. The climbing involved a lot of hand use to keep our weight forward. We were following along the base of a wall to our left for most of the climb and, at one point, we had to squeeze between it and another boulder in a space about a foot across at our hips.

Barely breaking a sweat in the cool perfect day, we made it to the top and could see colors all around us. To the north, we saw the view in the first photo. To the south, we saw the view in the photo below. While we played around on top of the hill, we could see Calico Basin on one side and the Visitor's Center of Red Rock Canyon on the other. Our fearless coordinator, Jim, demonstrated "the leap" while he hoped that the feet and knees would not fail him on landing!

It was just a joy to be on this hike today. The weather was so nice. The scrambling was a delight. Most of us were somewhere that we had not been before. And, the holiday cheer was still in the air.

Continuing to walk south on the sandstone, we faced several interesting predica- ments. The coordinator playfully went up ahead to allow us to figure everything out for ourselves. It must have worked because we did have fun. Eventually, the continuance took us down on an enjoyable route with a lot of hand holds and bare sandstone on which to place our feet. (Note: There were several panels of graffiti in this area.)

Dipping down through a rabbit hole, we came within view of the saddle above Red Springs to the south. From this point, the descent became easier and we merged with the saddle trail near the bottom. In less than two casual hours, we had scrambled for a little over a mile up and down 750 elevation feet.

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