Friday, March 2, 2012

Little Finland & The Subway at Gold Butte - 3/1/12

                                Delicacies of Little Finland

                                Cows welcoming us to Gold Butte

 Drive north on I-15 from Las Vegas, exit at #112 (Riverside / Bunkerville), turn right and go 3 miles to cross the Virgin River. Make a right turn at the next road (Gold Butte Road), drive twenty miles on loud bumpy pavement avoiding the free range cows from a nearby dairy farm, and hit the graded dirt road for four more miles. Finally, turn right at the sign that indicates Red Bluff Springs and drive four more miles on a sandy uneven dirt road that requires a high clearance vehicle. Congratulations! You have arrived at the Wall of Petroglyphs (seen above) where Thursday's Gold Butte Adventure began.

                                Entering our 8.5 mile adventure.

 After warming up our cameras at the petroglyph wall, fourteen hikers rounded a corner found to the right of the wall and began crossing desert and red rock terrain. The target landmark of a high point squarish rock soon came into view. Passing the small butte, we turned to the left and found a wash that would take us down to the upper reaches of an area of red rock that swirls, screws, extends and retreats; all under a frequent blanket of mineral deposits that bring to mind snow.

                                Dropping down into Little Finland

 Little Finland
                             Little Finland Sculpture

                                Little Finland Features

 Upon reaching the area called Little Finland, the coordinators suggested a thirty minute exploration of the area for photography, climbing and searching for petroglyphs. What appeared to be dinosaur footprints were found frozen into the sandstone somewhere in the middle. Three - toed sloth, maybe? Anyway, we enjoyed the world famous landscape and moved toward the other end where we slipped through the fence and gathered for a hike at the base of the cliff.

                                Examples of Little Finland formations.

                            Little Finland "Snow"

 The base of the cliff at Little Finland is lined with five or six full grown palm trees. How did they get there? Could be a carry over from when this area's weather was a little more tropical. Or, it could just be bird poop! At any rate, the trees give the area a look all its own. We hiked the length of the base and passing through a fence, walked past the Red Bluff Spring.

 The hike up through the spring wash is colorful and a little muddy. There is a trail that seems to be used frequently. At the end of the water, we climbed up the hill to pass through the fence on the other side. Looking back, we saw our last view of Little Finland. We climbed up an old road and found ourselves very near the old corral sitting off of the Gold Butte Wash Road.

                                Climbing up out of Red Bluff Springs Wash

 Crossing the Desert Via Baby Butte
                                Hanging out at the Red Bluff Corral

After the required inspection of the old corral, we crossed the road and climbed up through a small wash to reach the next plateau. Following cow paths and old roads, we arrived at a huge rock sitting separate from the others that is named Baby Butte. Here, we found rocks to sit on and have a snack break. Everyone was pretty hungry at this point!

                             Climbing the Crack

Two hikers examined Baby Butte to see if it could be climbed but decided ropes would be necessary. We finished our break and crossed the remaining desert where we arrived at a crack in the sandstone. As seen above, the crack could be climbed so up we went, coming out at the next plateau level. We hiked past a couple of small canyons and entered into an area filled with places that could be explored.

 Small Slot
                             Inspecting the petroglyphs in the Small Slot

                                Unusual petroglyphs found in the dark small slot.

 It would already be a long day so, instead of branching out to explore, we continued over to a small dark slot seen in Jerry's photo above. Here, there are several very unusual petroglyphs on the black walls. Moving on, we rounded a bend and came to a cliff. Sure, we could have found an easy way around but ... what fun would that be? Richard's photo to the left shows our fun descent over the cliff.

 The Subway
                                The Subway Entrance

                          Petroglyphs found outside the Subway

At the bottom of the cliff, we came to the Gold Butte Subway area. The outside walls of the small slot canyon were covered with faded and worn petroglyphs. We took a few minutes to find them all then entered into the slot. Several more petroglyphs were found inside the slot. The best ones were found at the very end of the slot within the blackened corner. We exited the slot through a side canyon on the right.

                                Petroglyphs found inside the Subway

 Big Boulder Canyon
                                Climbing Big Boulder Canyon

 By exiting here, we were in place to circle around the end of the column of red rock and begin climbing through the next canyon. This part of the hike was added just for fun. The boulders were huge and there was a trail, so why not? We weaved in, out, over and under what we called Big Boulder Canyon and finally came to a grassy relief. The rest of the canyon became smaller in breadth and brushier in catclaws until we were spit out over a jammed boulder. Finally, the canyon opened up.

 Not far from this spot, we shimmied up an opening in the wall to the left. A short climb brought us to the plateau of rock above. (More places to explore on another day.) We crossed over to the far corner and began our drop down into the canyon on the other side. The sun was dropping and it was time to go home. The remaining adventure would be working back in the direction of the cars.

                            Doing the Sandstone Descent


 The drop down into the canyon involved a fair amount of exposure that could not be avoided easily. The writer is proud to say that all fourteen hikers made the descent like pros! During the tricky maneuver,  Mike suggested a shadow photo! ("Now?" the photog thought!) Anywho, it is a great photo! It reminds the writer of the hiking club's business cards!

 We funneled down to the ground and crossed the desert back to the immediate Subway area where we dropped back into the Subway on the other side from where we left it. Another small break was necessary and we sat for a few minutes before making the final leg of the journey.

  Crossing the Desert Via Baby Butte Box Canyon
                                Hiking through the Arch

                                Wash to Baby Butte

 We climbed up to the plateau from where we came and hiked through an arch. Next, we dropped into a colorful wash, hiked across the desert, crossed a deep wash, and passed the base of Baby Butte on the other side. Not far from Baby Butte is yet another box canyon. We ventured in. We winded up to pass "toilet seat rock" and came down to ascend one more slot of scrambling as seen to the left above.

Finally, the scrambling was done and we hiked the desert, road and cow path getting back to the cars, a welcome sight! Yep! We got our money's worth in Gold Butte today. Fourteen hikers were exhausted and looking forward to a hot bath, a meal and a beer! .... Can't wait till next year!

                         Sunset from near Big Boulder Canyon - 2/17/12

                                Gold Butte Sunset - 2/17/12


Anonymous said...

Best hike ever!

Jerry Thomas said...

Wow! What a great hike and great photos.