Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cleopatra Wash - 2/5/13

                                       Cleopatra Cove on Lake Mead

Drive out to Lake Mead. Travel north on Northshore Road to mile marker 30. Turn right on Boathouse Cove Road. Pray that your car makes it over the 4WD high clearance dirt road for 2.2 miles. Get out of the car and begin hiking down the wash. This is what seven club hikers did today. Their hike would continue out and back to Lake Mead over 7 miles with around 1100 feet of gross elevation gain.

                                            Wide First Part of Wash

 First, the approach road had been graded ... this year. The ruts and rocks were not too bad. But, 4WD and high clearance is still suggested.

We hiked down the wash which began tantalizingly simple. However, as the walls became taller above us on both sides of the wash, the hike met several dry fall obstacles. All of the dry falls had an "up and around" trail but the opportunity to scramble called to most of us like a siren.

                                           At the Top of One Dry Fall

This area was created when an earthquake split a larger volcanic area into the Hamblin lobe going one way and the Cleopatra lobe going the other way. The rocks and walls are clearly igneous in nature.

As we dropped down towards to lake, we started noticing the colorful rock around us. The rock was created when an ancient volcano erupted turning rock to liquid and carrying stones that it met up with in its downhill path. When the liquid hardened, the finished product was very colorful pyroclastic rock.

                                Examples of the Pyroclastic Rock in the Wash

 There is a slot canyon at the bottom of the wash which has high dry falls within its walls. We knew from past experiences that the largest dry fall is basically non- negotiable without ropes. We took a look at it for the newbies then returned to the saddle climb that is found south of the wash right before the slot canyon. It is a steep rocky climb that we made quick work of. The harder part of the saddle area is the down climb on the other side as seen in the photo below. Slowly, we each managed to get down to the lake cove on the other side. The view, when we dared to take our eyes off of the ground, was beautiful.

                            Down Climb to Cleopatra Cove on Lake Mead

 The lake water level was lower than last year (2012) but higher than the year before (2011). In the photo below, the inset is a photo of the same area from last year. Although the water was lower this year, we still could not walk over to the sand bar that bridges the sides of the cove because water in a large deep depression in the foreground met the walls on both sides. So, we found a rock to sit on and take our break. The water was a light blue and very calm.

           Taking a Break on a Perch with a View (water level in 2012 lower right)

 After the break, the climb back up and over the saddle had to be accomplished so we each found our way being careful not to slide on the rocky soil. Back in the wash, we began a 3.5 mile climb out. The morning was still young and we were all feeling great! The hike was doing its job.

                                Starting Back Up Wash from Saddle Area

 On the return, every time we encountered one of the dry falls, we each made our decision on whether to try our hand at the climb. This intermittent thought process added fodder to our enjoyment. Cleopatra Wash is different enough to be considered a special hike and when we returned to the cars, we were all pretty tired. Our hike lasted a little less than four hours. Adding an hour out and an hour back for the commute from our meeting point, it was a six hour day. Worth it!
                                         Nearing the Top of the Wash

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