Sunday, October 28, 2012

Krafft Mountain Loop Exploratory - 10/28/12

                                         Gateway Canyon Re-arranged

                                    A Bolder (Boulder) Gateway Canyon!

Sunday hikes very often start out on one hike and end up with an interesting variation of that hike! Today was no exception. The scheduled hike was Krafft Mountain Loop. We assumed that this meant that any way one can hike a loop around the base of Krafft Mountain is allowable! One of our main objectives was to find out what Gateway Canyon looks like after the heavy rains and flood of two weeks ago. So, off we went from the dirt parking lot at the end of the Calico Basin residential area heading toward 5 Stop Hill.

                                      Krafft Mountain Arch (Foreground)

 Seven hikers reached the saddle at the top of the hill and, after a small break, we began scrambling down the wash located close to the mountain on the right of us. Usually, hikers utilize any one of many trails that lead down the hill to Gateway Canyon. Today, we decided that the wash offered a bit of adventure. It was a great scramble!

                                        Lettie Scrambles Between Boulders

 Near the end of the wash, we turned right and scrambled up a stair-stepped chimney. This brought us up to the top of a calico level of Krafft Mountain. Views of Turtlehead and Gray Cap were very colorful in the morning light. Looking down toward Gateway Canyon, we chose our route.

                                Don Finds His Way Down Calico Sandstone

 The candy cane calico sandstone led us all the way down a somewhat steep section of rock that our shoes adhered to well. Near the bottom of the hill, we came to the famous candy cane chute from the right side. Usually, we arrived there from the left side. A few of us came down the chute, others down the adjacent rock slope, and we finally arrived in Gateway Canyon. Anxious to find out what the newly carved canyon had in store for us, we started down the gravel between the sandstone walls. Soon, we reached the same spot that stopped us two weeks earlier. There was still a large pool of water blocking the canyon. We sat for our snack break and then decided to try to find our way around this section without missing too much of the canyon floor.

                  Hikers Might Want to Try the Left Side of This Obstacle

 Three different routes were taken and then we were together again. Next, we arrived at the first large waterfall area. The easier route to the right of the huge boulders is the only possible way for hikers without ropes to get through. The photo below shows Don inside the hollowed out canyon floor below the oblong boulder blocking the route. By the way, Don said that the boulder moved slightly when he pushed on it from underneath. Beware!

                   This Huge Boulder Actually Moved When Don Posed Here!

 Next, we came to a place where we normally just sat on a rock and used another rock to step down to the next level. Well, the two rocks are still there as before but the earth beneath has been hollowed out so much that the hiker cannot reach it without a considerable jump. Someone has begun placing rocks here to build up the "landing," however, the height was still not sufficient. The writer was able to climb down with a wrist-hold assistance from another hiker. Perhaps use of a rope is the best bet right now.

                      A New Difficult Obstacle Where Ropes Would Be Handy

 In the photo to the left, the previous gravel level is clearly shown on the sandstone wall. All the way down the canyon, evidence of a tremendous amount of water flow is clear. We had to go up and around at the last large waterfall area mostly because of a pool of water still lying in wait at the bottom of the scramble area.

At the end of the canyon, we found the usual trail out and hiked around the east end of Krafft Mountain to the dirt parking lot. A fun and informative Sunday morning.

         There is Still a Small Pool of Water at the Second Large Waterfall

                      Gateway Canyon Chewed Us Up and Spit Us Out!

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