Saturday, March 31, 2012

Red Springs Loop - 3/31/12

                                Calico Hills

                                Red Rock Rendezvous Participants

 There were nineteen participants in today's early hike on Red Springs Loop. This hike begins at the Red Springs Picnic Area parking lot in Calico Basin. Our first order of business was to hike over to a rock fall area that leads up to Red Springs Saddle, or Angel Pass. There are several names in circulation for this particular saddle between the Calico Hills.

 We made our way up to the base of the rock fall and began a steep climb. The group stayed on the same trail but got separated from time to time. Several rest stops were made to make sure that everyone was able to get up to the saddle. A special thanks to those who were working as the "sweep," a very important position when hiking in a group. The leader has to try to gauge the speed and give suggestions as to how to negotiate obstacles but the word doesn't always get all the way back to the end of the line. That is where the sweep is very helpful to those hikers who have not heard suggestions first hand. The sweep also makes sure that the trail is not lost to those hikers when inadvertent gaps have been created in our long trains.

                                Descending from Angel Pass

                                Angel Carving

 After waiting for everyone to summit the saddle, we began down the other side. As is the ascent, the descent is covered with choices of trails and routes. For the most part, we all stayed on the same route and ended up at the angel carving as seen in the photo above. While we waited here for everyone to catch up, we inspected the carving from all angles ... see photo to left.

 Two hikers explored a route on the extreme left side of the canyon staying up on the rock ledges. We continued down from the carving into the floor of the canyon and climbed up on snack rock which overlooks the wash below the Calico II Overlook on the scenic loop of Red Rock Canyon NCA. While we took our break, a large group of Red Rock Rendezvous participants climbed up through the wash and seemed to be learning the basics in rock scrambling along with their lessons in rock climbing.

                                Snack Break on Snack Rock

                                First Climb out of Wash

 Next, we traveled a series of wash hiking and trail hiking down below the scenic loop past Calico II and Calico I. Trying to stay in the wash as much as possible, the hike required still more scrambling which the nineteen hikers did not seem to mind. In fact, there were mumblings about how using the trail for all of this section of the hike tends to get boring.

 It's true that the wash gave the hike a lot of variety so we happily followed it out until we hit a trail that climbed up to the left. We stopped shortly at a small petroglyph site then took off up the hill. We seemed to go high too fast but it all worked out in the end. Around the corner and over the saddle, then it was back down to the Red Springs parking lot. The hike was a great workout at only four miles and 3.5 hours. Although we weren't really trying, we did beat the worst of the predicted afternoon strong winds.

                                Dry Waterfall

                                Circling Calico Hills on Return

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