Sunday, October 27, 2013

Four Calico Peaks - 10/27/13

View from Grand Staircase of Calico Hills

View from Calico II Peak

Wow! That was a lot of scrambling we did today! Sixteen Sunday strollers came out for another Super Sunday Scramble in the Calico Hills of Red Rock Canyon NCA. Mike OC called the shots while Jim B. and Kay played first officers as we wound our way up, over and around the mid-sections of the red and white sandstone. Beginning at the Red Springs Picnic Area parking lot, we headed straight for the hills and tackled the Grand Staircase that climbs up a diagonal ramp against a rock wall.

View Near Red Springs Peak from Grand Staircase
 Views from the staircase were beautiful in the morning sun and the temperature warmed very quickly from the high 40's of the dawn.

Descent to Wave Wash

 We only came near our first peak of the day, Red Springs Peak. Instead, we continued over the ridge and began our drop down the other side in the top of the Wave Wash. At one point, as seen in the photo to the right, we had no choice but to descend on five points as we scrambled underneath a rock overhang. There were many other places where the writer used her rear end as a viable hiking tool throughout the hike. (She has the hole in her britches to prove it!)

Slot Below Calico I
 At the end of the Wave Wash, we turned right and dropped down into the slot that lies below Calico I on the Scenic Loop.

Climbing Up from Calico I Wash

 From the depths of the wash at Calico I, we climbed up out of the wash and on to the upper trail that leads to the Calico II area. This traverse was somewhat of a respite from the first part of the hike that felt a little like being shot out of a cannon! We made our way in familiar territory over to "Snack Rock" below Calico II. A short break ensued as we gazed at our next challenge.

Beginning Big Ascent from Calico II
 After our break, we headed down and over to the red rock ascent that was staring at us. This Big Ascent was steep and long. On the way up, we passed a few rock climbers and were careful not to step on their ropes .... (Inside joke.)

Nearing Finish of Big Ascent

As we neared the main Calico Tank which was just over the Big Ascent finish line, the red rocks changed to white. We arrived at the main tank and crossed to the other end of it to find a wash crack that leads up to the peak on our left. Negotiating the wash is familiar to us but it never seems to disappoint. At the top of the wash, we turned right and continued to the top of Calico II Peak where we sat and had our long break of the morning. ... Was it still morning? Yep!

Taking Our Break on Calico II Peak
 Calico II Peak was our second peak of the hike. The summit views include a good look at the Scenic Loop Calico II turnout below.

Crack Descent off of Calico II Peak

 After the break, we climbed over to the wall above the main tank (200 feet below) and descended utilizing the crack shown to us by Neal. At the bottom, we crossed over to the ramp that would take us up to Calico Peak. The ramp proved to be another steep climb. Previous to today, this ramp was used quite often for the Calico Peak descent.

Ascending Ramp to Calico Peak
 Climbing up the ramp, we were well aware of our already sore muscles beginning to make themselves known.

Various Views from Calico Peak

 At the top of the ramp, we turned left for a few more feet and arrived on Calico Peak. This was our third peak of the morning, (still morning?), and it was the only peak with a sign-in log book. We stayed here long enough to sign the book and take a few photos then we were off again. Our southeastern descent from the peak, seen in the two photos below, was steep and dicey. Another 200 foot cliff to the main tank was now on our right.

Beginning Descent from Calico Peak
 After the place in the photo below, five or six super hikers decided to take a really dicey drop above Ash Canyon. The rest of us dropped down to our right in a "safe" crack enclosed by two solid rock walls.

Scary Part of Calico Peak Descent (Big Cliff to Left!)

 Meeting each other at the tank overlook level, we began dropping down to the meadow south of the peak. This is another long descent that required much care ... and sitting and sliding. At the meadow, we continued straight on the traverse within this part of the Calico Hills. A lot of big boulders got in the lead hiker's way but a trail was still deciphered and we found the small crack ascent up to Red Peak, our fourth and final peak of the day. ...No, it was no longer morning!

Arriving on Red Peak above Angel Pass
 At the top of the short but interesting crack, we turned right, swung around the "stripper pole," and climbed up on top of the little Red Peak.

Red Peak, the Fourth and Final Peak of the Day

 We enjoyed the view here then began the last challenging descent of the day. A steep wash took us down to the Angel Pass summit then a left turn took us down the pass trail to the base of the Calico Hills. The only thing left to do was a trail traverse back to the cars.

Writer's comment: I'm beat!

4.68 miles; 2500 feet total elevation gain & loss

Finishing Drop to Angel Pass

Bottom of Angel Pass at Base of Calico Hills

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