Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Virlis Fisher & Bridge Spring Arches - 1/31/12

Tuesday's hike for the Around the Bend Friends Hiking Club of Las Vegas was a shortened version of the Virlis Fisher & Bridge Spring Arches. Normally a 5.5 mile trek,  turned into a 4 mile scamper as exploration of a rumored shortcut ensued. Mike O'C. led the report brigade with our narrative and a couple of nice photos. Other photos were contributed by Larry D. and Richard J. Thank you very much, guys, for making the hike come alive on the web for all of us!

                      The cave our route bypasses on the way to VF Arch.

Mike entitles his report "Golden Arches." On a cool, overcast morning, 16 hardy trekkers assembled just outside the Colorado River town of Nelson, Nevada.  The writer, a longtime Nevadan, remembers the devastating flash flood that occurred in nearby Eldorado Canyon in 1974.  Wikipedia describes it aptly:

Nelson's Landing, about five miles west in Eldorado Canyon, is noted for washing into Lake Mohave in 1974 after a strong downpour in the regional mountains sent the runoff down the channels and produced a flash flood. There are five wide channels that run from the local mountains toward the river. The problem is that they all converge into a small outlet where Nelson's Landing was.

The entire landing and village was destroyed and nine people died when the flood came through the wash. The wall of water and debris was reported as about 40 feet (12 meters) high as it reached the river.
Much of Nelson, which was not impacted by the 1974 flood, remains today and is located way up the wash, away from the flood channels. The sparsely populated community consists mainly of privately owned ranch houses, and a river and mining tour business housed in a former Texaco gas station that has been used as a filming location for several feature films, including 3000 Miles to Graceland.

                      Must have been a tough climb!

                      Snacking at Virlis Fisher Arch

In that this particular Tuesday was designated 'Arch-day,' we had a pair of 'em on the docket.  So into the gully and across the ridges we went, in search of Arch Number One.  That would be the rarely-visited Virlis Fisher Arch.  
Ninety minutes later the clouds began to dissipate and a welcoming sun had us shedding outer garments.  Doggedly trailing the sun across the cerulean sky was a waxing gibbous moon.  And framed directly above our heads was the first destination of the morning--Virlis Fisher Arch.  One final scramble up a dicey scree slope and--voila!  One down, one to go.

At this point, the blogger must interject. A report was also made by the coordinator, Chris. Upon leaving VF Arch, he decided to do a little exploration while hoping to find a shortcut over to the canyon wherein Bridge Spring Arch resides. So, over the desert and up the ridge he led. Just when a mutiny was about to take place, the arch was spied in the canyon below. All was forgiven and at least a mile was removed from the roster for the day.

                      Paul climbs to the top of Bridge Spring Arch

 Mike continues:
Following an early lunch beneath the arch, Chris led us down the tricky slope and on toward Arch Number Two.  That would be another site that sees very little foot traffic, the Bridge Spring Arch.  After the obligatory photos and a few climbing shenanigans on deteriorating rock, we were off once again--through the swales and across the ridges.  The undulating 4-mile trek had us back at the trailhead at the crack of noon.  It was time to return to the Big City.

                      Bridge Spring Arch (aka Nelson Arch)

                                Area TOPO map

                                Note the traditional route markings.

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