Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Terrace Canyon - 3/13/12

                                Terrace Canyon Terraces

                             Wilson Homestead in Pine Creek Canyon

It was fourteen male hikers and one female hiker (... yours truly) that showed up for today's Super Tuesday hike into Terrace Canyon; a hike known for its beauty as well as its prowess. The hike begins at the Pine Creek Canyon parking lot off of the scenic loop of Red Rock Canyon NCA. It is not advised that the six miles of this hike be taken lightly as it is virtually six miles of difficult scrambling up 1500 feet of elevation gain in a wash filled with huge sandstone boulders of many colors. Today, the wash was only partially filled with running water.

 After finding the trail into the South Fork of Pine Creek Canyon, Mike O'C. and a few other trail leaders took us up the maze of canyons. Each time we arrived at a fork in the canyon, we had to assess the direction of the hike. There are three left forks then one right fork in the end. Directions became secondary to the climb as it was constantly necessary to find our way up the next obstacle. There were a few times that help was doled out amongst the fifteen hikers by way of hand pulls and pushes.

                                      Example of Difficult Scrambling

 This became more necessary for the shorter hikers. The hiker in the photo above had long legs and made this scramble seem relatively easy ...NOT! After we finally passed the turn off for the Gunsight Notch Trail, we entered into Terrace Canyon. There was a minimal amount of water flowing down the rock levels and pooling for small reflections. Cacti lined the hillside above.

 When we reached the top of the terraces, we found a spot to take our break and enjoy the unique view. In the photo below, the side canyon to the left of the top is pictured with the backside of Rainbow Peak in the background. After spending time in the back country exploring and resting, we began our descent. After all, climbing up is only half the pleasure!

                                  Top End of Terraces

The scramble down through the canyons was as much a challenge as the the scramble up. Leaders changed several times but the object of the exercise really was to not get injured as hikers found sliding down the rocks, balancing across the tips of boulders and stepping into the wash filled with rocks that could turn an ankle at the flip of a round corner were the requirements for the next couple of hours.

 Finally, Mescalito Peak came into view and we reached an exit trail from the wash. Tired and soon to be sore, the group of hikers began hiking back to the parking lot on a different trail. We merged with the trail we had used on our way up in the morning and climbed the hill to the cars. Another successful adventure into the depths of Red Rock Canyon NCA!

                      Hikers avoiding huge boulders in center of wash.

                      Cool desert pool in the South Fork of Pine Creek Canyon.

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