Saturday, October 13, 2012

Krafft Mountain Loop (After Heavy Rains) - 10/13/12

                                Flooded Gateway Canyon from Above

                                       Flooded Gateway Canyon

 Today's twenty-four Saturday hikers got more than they bargained for in colorful Gateway Canyon. Wet and wild! Exciting and fun! We began at the Red Springs Picnic Area parking lot and hiked at the base of the Calico Hills until just past the old filled-in foundation that Guy always calls Uncle Vinny's House. Well, yesterday was Guy and Rosie's wedding day and someone (perhaps the same people that built the sundial in the tank atop the Calico Hills) seemed to be celebrating with a double spiral on Uncle Vinny's foundation. (See photo to left.)

                      New Peak with Barely Visible Washed Out Trail

 We dropped down to cross Ash Creek which was muddy and flowing then began climbing up to 5 Stop Hill. The trails were completely washed out and sometimes, it was difficult to find them as seen in the photo above. Slowly, all twenty-four hikers made it to the top of the saddle. Finally, we hiked down the trail all the way to Gateway Canyon.

                      Starting Down Gateway Canyon with Water Flow

 Very soon, we noticed a fairly strong water flow of about three feet wide sliding down through the canyon limestone gravel. We had a lot of fun stepping across the water and making our way past little water chutes. As the canyon narrowed, things began to get a little more interesting! And, just before we reached the place where normally we have to help ourselves down about three feet, we couldn't go any further without getting our feet wet. Looking for an escape route, we immediately saw a small trail that headed up the hill to the right. At the first rock outcropping, we took our break and put some thought into what should happen next.

                                Lunch Break Above Canyon

 Two hikers decided to scout out the lower regions while taking their chances at the waterfalls. Six hikers decided to return the way they came. The remaining sixteen hikers continued on the high path at the base of Krafft Mountain. This required many hikers who were not used to advanced scrambling to learn what that was like. It was an agreeable solution to all participants as the high road hikers followed a nice set of cairns which eventually led them back down to the canyon floor where navigation was feasible.


The first photo of this entry shows the two hikers that took the canyon route through the water. The report was made that the first big waterfall was still clear on the right side but, at the bottom, one had to wade through the water. The photo to the left shows a very large bunch of debris that was stopped by the small group of trees as it floated down a presumably heavy water flow. This debris was around five feet tall.

                      Last Waterfall Area Where We Usually Drop Ten Feet

 We had to go up and around a couple more times to avoid getting very wet. It was a group effort getting everyone through the canyon safely. Finally, we headed up out of the canyon to the right trying to follow the washed out trail. Circling around the eastern end of Krafft Mountain, we checked to see if the high waterfall had water. It didn't.

All that was left was the most direct route back to the cars. This hike through the western edge of Calico Basin tends to be long and arduous. Today was no exception as all accounted for hikers were exhausted from their unexpected exertion in the wilderness!

                                Giving Directions Around Water Obstacle

                                                  Rock and Water

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