Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rattlesnake Canyon - 3/7/13

                                       Rattlesnake Canyon Waterfall

                                  Mini-Terraces of Rattlesnake Canyon

It was a 2 mile ... yes, 2 mile ... scramble for fifteen hikers this morning beginning at the Willow Springs Picnic Area parking lot in Red Rock Canyon NCA. Heading off in a western direction from the end of the Willow Springs road, we ducked under some trees and started climbing a bouldered canyon.

 The scramble started immediately and didn't let up until the end of the hike two hours later. The main canyon was a narrow wash that provided constant stair-stepping in the form of sandstone boulders, small and large. After almost half a mile, we hung a left into a canyon with a wonderful surprise awaiting us.

                                     Scrambling Up to Left Turn Off

                               Bottom of Rattlesnake Canyon Waterfall

 We had to zigzag up to our left to get up to the top of a dripping waterfall that drains water out of the canyon above. Once we got up to the next level, we began climbing up the first set of terraces. The beauty of the moss-covered rock and dripping water into small pools made us feel as if we had just hiked up into a wonderland of sorts.

 The small terraces were steep and a little slippery but nothing we couldn't skip up and over. After the first terraces, we hiked through a little bit of normal wash terrain then found the second set of terraces; more grandiose than the first ones. The terraces led us up like a huge royal staircase would, curving around to the right and left and right again.

                             Scrambling Up Through the Mini-Terraces

                              View Back Toward the La Madre Mountains

 The hike's stopping point was a terraced moss-covered ten foot wall. Some of the faster hikers had already found a way up the wall and were taking their break at the top. We were below admiring the thick ice covering the dripping water on the wall. Suddenly, the thick ice cracked and slid down into a pool at the base of the wall surprising all of us into speechless poses. My guess is that the ice was just waiting for a good excuse ... and an audience ... to make a splash!

Thirteen of us had a nervous laugh and took our break amidst the beautiful scenery. The last two hikers decided to stop at the first set of terraces for their break.

                               Before and After Photos of the Ice Fall

                                  Climbing Back Down From the Top

Eventually, the very cool air nudged us into starting the descent. The hikers above found their way back down and together, we enjoyed the terraces all over again as we carefully found solid footing down the water polished sandstone. No rush. Except for the air temperature, there was nothing urging us to go very fast.

 We junctioned with the main canyon wash and started down the boulder scramble. This section took some time as we used hands, arms, legs, feet, knees and butts to move from one boulder to another. It was a very enjoyable workout; short and sweet.

                                 Nearing Canyon Junction on Descent

                                     Scrambling Down Main Canyon

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