Thursday, January 26, 2012

Valley of Fire Pinnacles - 1/26/12

                                Valley of Fire Pinnacles

                                The Wave at Valley of Fire

It's beginning to seem like one cannot take a bad photo at the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada! The colors of sandstone were, again, bright with the morning sun for fifteen hikers. Brian D., the Valley of Fire explorer and connoisseur, showed us yet another outstanding hike on the northern end of the park. Our main objective today was the Valley of Fire Pinnacles; an area of the park where colorful hoodoos sprout from the rocky hills.


Our five mile hike began at the small parking area on the left side of the road just after the small sign on the right indicating "The Wave" trail. We hiked back up the road a tad and dropped down among the sandstone. Soon, we were staring  at a frozen dune "painted" with red, gold, and orange color in a pattern of a wave. Hmm, we didn't think that Arizona's Wave had anything to worry about. But it was quite beautiful anyway. Next, we warmed up with a jaunt through the first slot canyon of the Three Slots Hike. It is always a beautiful walk through here.

                                Climb to first plateau.

After circling back around to the point at which we began the slot, we started travelling in the opposite direction. The warm up was over and we turned left to climb a very steep slope up to the first plateau. Dropping down the other side, we found the entrance to a very exciting slot that would bring us to the pinnacles that we spied from the top of the plateau. Brian calls this the "Drop Slot;" a few of us with scraped elbows and knees call it "The Grinder!"

                                Entrance into The Grinder Drop Slot

The Grinder begins as a narrow crack between red sandstone. It is an awkward scramble through. Then, as seen in the photo below, the narrow slot comes to a drop of about eight to ten feet. It is necessary to wedge your body between the walls and shimmy down while praying. Depending upon the size of your body, it can become quite unnerving. The writer lost friction after the point of no return. Hands and elbows worked frantically as her feet dangled below! But the sandstone was rough so the free descent was slow and resulted in simple skinned elbows.

                                                 Brian waits at the top of the drop.

After fifteen hikers escaped The Grinder, we found a gorgeous wash to climb up to The Pinnacles area. The photo to the left and the one below show the wash climb as we were blown over by the sight. There was more to photograph when we reached the top where we sat for our snack break.

                                The Pinnacles

Scattered about among the different colors here were small black volcanic rocks. A few geodes were found. We wanted to stay here longer but, after all, we are a "hiking" group ... not a "sitting" group! So, Brian announced that the best scenery had been seen and now we begin our return.

The return to the cars involved a couple of miles of scrambling through red rock. This was an excellent way to top off the morning. Our energy reserves were spent by the time we added a couple of sandy washes to the mix and climbed the hill past the huge red rock landmark mountain to the cars. One by one, as we crested the hill, we heard the hikers exclaim, "The cars!" I suppose that says it all!

                                Valley of Fire Pinnacles Hike
                               Brian Dodd's Valley of Fire Hikes (Nov. 2012)

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