Red Cap and the Escarpment Peeking Over the Red Rock
Eight hikers participated in this week's Super Tuesday Hike, the Gray Cap Scramble. This was a different version of the same hike we did last spring; a veritable jungle gym excursion in the sandstone. We parked our cars at the dirt parking lot located at the end of the road in Calico Basin.
It was early, around 7:30am, and the sun was coloring the red and white sandstone hills with warm colors. We hiked up to the Krafft Mountain Saddle, took our first break, then dropped down into Gateway Canyon. The water in the canyon had disappeared all except for a clear pool here and there.
Mark and Susan Doing the Candy Cane Chute
Today's Hikers Climbing Out of Gateway Canyon
Our ascent, today, followed a similar route as the ascent we did in February. We climbed up through a layer of white sandstone where there were some exposed ledges, then we entered into the red sandstone of Gray Fox Canyon. We named the canyon Gray Fox after the cute little fox we saw hanging out here last spring.
The red layer of sandstone was a little difficult to route find even though there are cairns all the way up. One particular place seemed to suggest that the hiker could go either left or right. There were more exposed places but, by then, the exposure factor was a non-issue. Steve led us up and up and up before finally allowing us a small break!
Nearing the Top of Gray Fox Canyon
Gray Cap in Sight
As we neared the top of Gray Fox Canyon, we got a gorgeous view of the Escarpment to our back left. To our front right, we could see Gray Cap Peak towering above us with a lot of white sandstone in between. We arrived at the top of the red layer at an unfamiliar place and we were slightly flummoxed about not knowing where we were.
No worries. We knew where Gray Cap Peak was and it was "up." So we continued climbing. We didn't pass the normal beginning of the last phase of the climb. We didn't pass the picnic table rock. But we did eventually find the slight trail as we neared the top of the sandstone hill. Onward to the peak!
View from White Sandstone Layer
Collection of Photos Taken from Gray Cap Peak
We arrived on the peak somewhat separated. The last guy, in fact, had done a little exploring and arrived at the peak about twenty minutes after the rest of us. We signed the book, took the photo and agreed on Steve's suggestion to try a new descent route, one that he had already explored recently. We're talking, Direct Route! We found ourselves scrambling down some fancy situations. All do-able and routed by cairns. The photo to the right shows Susan at one particularly fancy place. Not many photos were taken during the descent due to the concentration required and the rate of speed set by those in front who were working hard to find the route. We arrived at a junction with the ascent route in time to collect stashed hiking sticks then continued down to Gateway Canyon.
We climbed back up to the saddle laboriously, then descended Five Stop Hill and returned to the cars. The entire hike took six hours over 5 miles and climbed 2258 total elevation feet. This hike is a total body workout with gorgeous surrounding beauty. For exercise, it doesn't get much better than this!