Monday, September 23, 2013

Cave Canyon / Boneshaker Hill - 9/23/13

Cave Canyon

View of Calico Hill from Boneshaker Hill

 The Early Risers hikes are nearing an end for this year as the Around the Bend Friends regular club hikes will soon be switching to the Red Rock Canyon arena on a daily basis. But, today, there were five hikers that arrived at the Cowboy Trails parking area and began their hike just as the sun was coming up over the horizon. They hiked to the upper cowboy buildings and dropped down to make their approach into Cave Canyon. Echo Canyon led off to the right and Cave Canyon began steeply up to the left.

Starting Up Cave Canyon
 The first hill leading up into the mouth of the right side of the canyon is the toughest climb. Below you, to the left, the center of the canyon is strewn with gigantic boulders. The first dry fall of note is the most difficult and many hikers stop here before they have barely begun. It is difficult but not impossible and we managed. With more effort, there is an up and around way to go on the left side of the canyon.

Climbing the First Dry Fall

 Right away, it was clear that few hikers have been using Cave Canyon as their route of choice. The brush was very heavy throughout the canyon. It covered the trail in many places. It was also clear that perhaps the only hikers were teenagers who were using the large caves found in the canyon as their hideaways. This was assumed since the graffiti was extremely heavy and fresh on the walls up until we reached the large cave entrance seen to the left. (Graffiti was removed in the photo with the magic of Photoshop!)

Cave Canyon Overgrown Brush
 The brush, boulders and small scrambles kept coming for a couple of miles. The trail is there but it is difficult to find at times. You can't get lost! Just stay between the walls.

Open Part of Cave Canyon

 Finally, the canyon split. To the right, the canyon peters out pretty quickly. We continued our climb in the left fork. Again, the brush covered the trail but we made it up to the dry fall box. Straight ahead is a difficult route to scramble up to the top. On the left side, there is a relatively easy route. Three of us chose to take the route on the right side which is considered medium in difficulty. The photo to the left was taken at the top.

Trail Junction at Boneshaker Sign
 A little further up the wash, we reached a trail crossing our path. Here, we turned left. Not long after, we came to the Boneshaker sign propped up by rocks. Unless you have been hiking these hills for a few years, you would never know that once upon a time this sign actually said, "BONESHAKER!" with a skull and crossbones for decoration.

Hiking Toward Boneshaker Hill

 Bicyclists who use these trails named this particular route "Boneshaker" because it is the most difficult route to ride down. It was unclear to us, as hikers, as to who on earth would ever try such a thing! (But, I'm getting ahead of myself.) We hiked down what started as a smooth and easy slope with views of Mystery Woman Canyon on the right and Cave Canyon on the left (seen in the photo to the left). When we reached the view of Boneshaker Hill (proper), we stopped on some nice rocks with a view and had our break.

Escarpment from Snack Spot
From our perch in the shade, we could see the Calico Hills and the Red Rock escarpment. On Fossil Ridge, we saw two friends that we had passed earlier and a small group of horse riders.

Muffins and Skull Canyon Trail Junction

Carefully, we dove down Boneshaker Hill. It is very steep and slippery and includes a couple of bike jumps for those inclined to risk their neck. At the bottom, we junctioned with the Muffins/Skull Canyon Trail and skirted the hill around to the left. This trail led us back to the horse stables and corral through blooming chinchweed. At the end of our hike, we passed by the burro that used to be wild. The kids like to see him when they come out here. Our hike, today, was 5 miles with around 1600 feet of elevation gain.

Chinchweed in Bloom

The Incarcerated Wild Burro Named Jackson

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