Sunday, April 21, 2013

Brownstone Canyon (O & B) - 4/21/13

Pictograph at Brownstone Canyon

View From Above Brownstone Canyon

 Eleven hikers came out on a beautiful and warm day to do an out and back hike to Brownstone Canyon by way of Gateway Canyon. We began at the Calico Basin dirt parking lot and climbed up 5 Stop Hill to reach the Krafft Saddle as seen to the left. After confirming that our hearts were awake, we descended into Gateway Canyon and began our scramble up through the gravel filled wash.

Turtlehead Peak Observing Drop to Gateway Canyon

Turtlehead Peak From Upper Gateway Canyon

 When we passed the Connector Canyon, we were officially in Upper Gateway Canyon. The upper portion of Gateway is made of limestone as opposed to the lower portion colored with red and white sandstone. The dry falls in the upper canyon are fun to climb and we enjoyed our ascent with Turtlehead Peak looming large above us. When we reached the top of the canyon, limestone gave way to red and white sandstone and paths were offered in three directions.

Climbing Wash From the Top of Upper Gateway Canyon

Sandstone Wash Above Gateway Canyon

 We took the path (or route) to the left and climbed up the beautifully colored wash of sandstone. This is a steep climb that brought us out at the top of a yellow sandstone plateau. Enjoying a bit more scrambling, we made our way towards Brownstone Canyon. The drop into Brownstone was a crack wash filled with large boulders. Hanging on with fingernails and toes, we negotiated this drop easily and ended up right beside our lunch spot.

Scrambling Over Sandstone

The Drop to Brownstone Canyon

 On the wall, there was a large grouping of pictographs painted by the ancient peoples up to 1000 years ago. This area is protected and hikers should never touch the writings. Down canyon about a quarter of a mile, there is also a very nice collection of petroglyphs high up on the wall to the south. We enjoyed our snack feeling the ancients' presence plus a couple if ticks. When it was time to go, we decided to find an easier way up the wall to return.

Large Tank Above Brownstone Canyon

Scrambling Back Across Sandstone

 We did find an easier and more fun way back up to the sandstone plateau and worked our way over to a large tank in the area. A few hikers challenged themselves with a precarious descent on the back side of the tank. The return was a pleasant descent down to Gateway and on down to the trail up to Krafft Saddle. As we were climbing up to the saddle, Lettie noticed that there were a pair of eyes watching us from above. We all looked up to the ridge and there was a bighorn sheep staring straight down at us. Cute!

The hike was 6 miles with 2015 feet of total elevation gain.

Climb Up to Krafft Saddle

Someone is Watching!

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