Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Big Wall Loop at Valley of Fire - 3/3/12

The Big Wall
Valley of Fire Landmark
 Another exciting Saturday brought forty hikers out to Valley of Fire State Park for a four mile loop hike to perhaps the largest uninterrupted sandstone vertical wall in the park. We parked at the White Domes parking lot and began our hike at the traditional ending of the White Domes Loop Trail. Very quickly, we left the trail and headed out to our right.

 We climbed up and down sandstone fins and ridges dropping into washes and heavy sand. At one point, Brian, the coordinator, said we would turn left at the flower. Curious to see what flower could be a landmark so early in the spring, we were thrilled to see the beautiful purple display as seen to the right. Then, ... we turned left!

 One of the highlights of the first part of the loop, was a squeeze play through the sandstone. It was very tight and required holding your breath and lifting your hiking pack up high. Although it took the forty hikers several minutes to get through the obstacles presented in the hike, everyone took it in stride and were enjoying the gorgeous day immensely. Smiles everywhere.

Rare Petroglyphs at Valley of Fire
 The next highlight was unexpected! Someone near the front of the line happened to look up when we stopped to wait for a moment and exclaimed, "Look! Petroglyphs!" These particular writings had not been spied before by Brian nor, most likely, many of the rangers that are presently working at the park. Yet, there they were, three figures! Next, we passed by a humongous monolith type rock and entered into an alley lined with vastly large sandstone walls.

Break Time at the Big Wall
 We took our break at the base of the largest of these walls enjoying our choice of sun or shade. Afterwards, we continued up the walled alley until we were met with a bouldered descent named the most difficult part of the hike. The descent was fun and challenging for most of the hikers but it took the better part of twenty to thirty minutes to get all forty hikers down.

 One more interesting little maneuver required us to hike under a large flat boulder that was resting on other boulders. Sometimes, we are like just a bunch of kids enjoying the simple things that hiking in the desert has to offer! The distance between the rabbit hole and the white sandstone of the White Domes area was mostly tame. Throughout the hike, we had to be careful with our footing because of "Indian Marbles" (little balls of sandstone) that were scattered on the rock everywhere we went.

 When the white sandstone came into view, we knew we were near the White Domes Trail. We merged with that trail in the wash just before going through the slot canyon for which that trail is famous. From there, we passed by the old movie set and climbed the hill back up to the cars. This was a delightful hike with minimal elevation gain / descent that lasted around four hours with forty hikers in tow.

Entering the Slots on the White Domes Loop
Stairs on the White Domes Loop

Some of Brian's Valley of Fire Hikes (He is happy to play tour guide!)

1 comment:

Jackie V. said...

I have been following your hikes on Saturdays through pictures that my daughter/son in law - Steve and Becky Anderson send me each week, and checking out your website. They are beautiful and it is just fantastic that you can climb in such terrain. I was reading about A labyrinth the week you had pictures of petroglyphs and it was most interesting. Thank You!!