Saturday, November 17, 2012

Conglomerate Gardens Loop - 11/17/12

                       View from Conglomerate Gardens to the Calico Hills

                                     Conglomerate Rock and Cactus

 Twenty-seven hikers participated in the debut of yet another hike in the Red Rock Canyon NCA. The bicycle enthusiasts were very busy this past summer and built a wonderful trail just south of the Fossil Ridge area of the North Blue Diamond Hills. They laid out a squiggly trail that travels among cacti, conglomerate rock formations and fossils set in limestone. And, although the trail isn't very worn as yet, they have placed many cairns and trail boundaries that help lead the way. On discovery of this gift, Chris, Diane and Kay decided to name the new trail the Conglomerate Gardens Loop.

 The weather for today's hike was extremely beautiful with big skies filled with an assortment of clouds. This made the backdrop of the Calico Hills and the Red Rock Escarpment even more majestic and dimensional. We set out from the Cowboy Trails parking lot on the lower Fossil Ridge Trail and, for two miles, we climbed to our high point at the RRCNCA / gypsum mine boundary. On the way, we turned right at every fork in the trail that was offered.

                                      Big Sky Over the Calico Hills

                            Stopping for a Break on the Fossil Ridge Trail

When we reached the boundary, we almost missed the last right fork turn that is found just before entering the pink sand. We immediately began squiggling our way down into the washes lined with comglomerate rock and limestone. A few hikers found a really nice shell fossil on the trail that Chris is describing in the photo to the left.

 A couple more squiggles and we reached the "fossil wall." This wall is found after dipping through a small wash. It is made of limestone and is filled with small fossils from sea creatures of long long ago. There must be around a hundred of these fossils on this wall area. Next, we turned to go uphill through the most fabulous conglomerate section of the hike. We stopped here among the natural seating and took our break.

                                       Conglomerate Rock Garden

                        View of Escarpment from the Conglomerate Rock Garden

 After the break, we continued squiggling down the hill through the rock formations and cacti. One section had several monoliths, or hoodoos, made from the hardened jumble of small pebbles. Wikipedia tells us, "A conglomerate is a rock consisting of individual clasts within a finer-grained matrix that have become cemented together. Conglomerates are sedimentary rocks consisting of rounded fragments." Further, Wikipedia says that in the case of conglomerate in an alluvial fan setting (such as the Las Vegas alluvial fan) "Alluvial deposits are formed in areas of high relief and are typically coarse-grained. At mountain fronts individual alluvial fans merge to form braidplains and these two environments are associated with the thickest deposits of conglomerates. The bulk of conglomerates deposited in this setting are clast-supported with a strong AB-plane imbrication. Some matrix-supported conglomerates are present, a result of debris-flow deposition on some alluvial fans."

 The geology of the North Blue Diamond Hills could probably be talked about all day! We are lucky to be able to study it first hand. The hike today was around 6.5 miles with a gross elevation gain of 1000 feet. Many hikers exclaimed that this just became their new favorite hike!

                           Hiking Through the Conglomerate Rock Gardens

                                         Working on the Last Mile

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