Saturday, January 7, 2012

White Owl Canyon Loop (long version) - 1/7/12

Early morning view from the old Lake Mead boat ramp. A favorite spot of minnow fishermen.

Twenty- five hikers set out for an eight mile hike filled with a large variety of ingredients. We started from the old boat ramp at Lake Mead on Lakeshore Road this morning. The hike would include a walk by the lake, three very different slot canyons, a sandy wash with scrambling and three under- road culverts.

The hike began with a walk around the shore line of Lake Mead from the boat ramp to the usual White Owl Canyon trailhead at 33 Hole. The lake water has risen quite a bit and the difference can be seen in this area. The photo above is of the entrance to White Owl Canyon in the distance. Note the high water in the foreground. This photo was taken from the plateau just below the picnic area.

After the plateau, we entered White Owl Canyon in the usual way enjoying the rounded corners of the lake created slot canyon. The owl was possibly in its nest resting on a ledge high above our heads. Next, we walked through two culverts that took us under the highway and the bike path. Here, the wash widened and the going became tough as we slogged through the sandy gravel.

A few intermittent scrambles were negotiated and we sped up to make the wash go by faster. Imagine the burn! We "discovered" bighorn remains lying surreptitiously behind a rock. We pestered the coordinator about stopping for a break. Anything to break up the monotony of the loose footing. At last, at the top of the climb, we stopped for our break and the view was worth the wait.

Wide open desert lay before us with a view of Bighorn Mountain, another fruitful hiking destination. After replenishing our reserves, we began the descent into a wash which narrowed as we went. There were promises that the exciting / fun stuff was not over.

About half way down the wash, we arrived at the "drop." We had a choice of either going down through a beautiful little slot canyon or going up and around to the left. The slot canyon required an initial dicey drop of around eight or nine feet. There were foot and hand holds, however, we had to help each other down due to its precariousness. The rest of the slot had lovely curves and angles that just begged for photos. At the end of the slot was a really high waterfall and an "up and around" was required. Next, we continued down the narrowing rounded canyon.

The last fun stuff was certainly the best! Finally, we came to Corkscrew Canyon, a caliche slot canyon that takes the hiker down and underneath a highway bridge. This canyon had rabbit holes, guillotine rocks, ins, outs, ups and downs reminding us of an amusement park maze.

Finally, we reached the lake again ... very close to the old boat ramp where we started. Above, note the same view as the first photo albeit almost five hours later.

1 comment:

Bob Spirko said...

Your mention of Bighorn Mountain piqued my curiosity. I could find no info on the Internet so I planned our own route. It worked out well and I thought I would share it with you. Your website has been a source of inspiration and ideas so I thought I would try to give a bit back to you. See:
One of these days when we're in Vegas we'll join one of your trips.