Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fern Canyon - 5/12/12

                                                 Fern Canyon

                                          Pine Creek Canyon

 It was a hot day. Luckily, nineteen hikers were on their way into Fern Canyon, a shaded bouldered canyon in the Red Rock Canyon NCA escarpment that almost always contains some amount of flowing water. We arrived at the Pine Creek Trailhead on the Red Rock Scenic Loop and took off down the trail in great spirits. Ed was the head honcho today and the pace was perfect!

 We swung by the old Wilson homestead ruins, and continued to the north fork next to Mescalito Peak. Already, the heat could be felt on our backs. We climbed up to our right and took the trail that soon dropped into the canyon wash where there were several small waterfalls flowing prettily through the boulders and trees. The shade was welcome and sufficiently blocking the expected intense heat.

                                Water and Ferns in Fern Canyon

                                Enjoying the Water (mid-hike)

 One of the best ways to tackle the hike into Fern Canyon is to stay up against the left (south) wall. That's what we did today with Ed then Don in the lead. Eventually, the hike goes into the center of the wash as we were required to bend underneath brush and climb boulders. At about midway up the canyon, we had to hike up and around a particularly tough obstacle. This trail is in danger of being entirely covered with what looks like grapevine. Descending back to the bottom of the wash, we saw a burned tree stump that looked similar to a black bear skin. (After last weekend's hike on Aspen Peak, the writer must have bears on her mind.)

 Other points of interest during the hike include Jacob's Ladder, a 15 foot boulder that offers ladder steps to gain its purchase; a large boulder that offers a 45 degree angle to test out your hiking shoe soles; a visit over to the right (north) side of the canyon to hike along the wall on a sandstone slab; and a few frogs in the various pools of cool water.

                                Don says,"Walk this way."

                      Tadpole filled water above dripping twenty foot falls.

 The "end" of the hike is either at the base of a twenty foot waterfall, the area just above the waterfall, or the next shelf above that. There is a trail that climbs up from the base of the waterfall found on the right side of the canyon. To get to the area above the waterfall, hang a left about midway up the climb where there is a narrow ledge that circles around the buttress. To get to the shelf, keep climbing!

 We took our break at one of these three places while we watched frogs and tadpoles. The canyon is a wonderful and relaxed place to spend an afternoon but, alas, we had to return to real life. The journey out of the canyon was led by Don and Kay. Then Ed finished the hike in the lead as he took us quickly through the hot sun back to the cars. The hike was around 5.5 miles with around 700 feet in elevation gain.

                                Scrambling back down the canyon.

                       Fighting the vines in the "up and around" section.

No comments: