Sunday, January 5, 2014

Black Velvet Canyon - 1/5/14

Black Velvet Canyon Entrance

Black Velvet Canyon from Remote Parking

 Nine hikers ignored the dip in temperature and drove out to the Highway 160 Late Night Trailhead for a quick 8 mile loop hike to Black Velvet Canyon using a series of bike trails. We began the loop by starting on a trail to the right of the hill behind the trailhead parking lot. In the distance, we could see Black Velvet Canyon making a dark crease between Monument Peak and Black Velvet Peak. Mountain Spring Peak rose up on the limestone layer of escarpment behind the two sandstone peaks. We surmised that Black Velvet Canyon is so named because its southern wall (a wall that rock climbers love to climb) is seldom, if ever, lit up by the sun.

Starting Up Black Velvet Canyon Trail
 Bicyclists were already on the trails and we stepped aside each time they came by. There were also four cars in the remote parking area on the dirt road outside the mouth of the canyon. Usually, this means there are rock climbers in the canyon.

Following Trail Down to Canyon Entrance

 After following the bike trails to the dirt road and passing the grouping of car campers, we started up the Black Velvet Canyon Trail. The trail is extremely rocky and required concentration to step from rock to rock and not turn an ankle. Eventually, the trail took us steeply down to the official entrance of the canyon. This is a very colorful area where there is usually some amount of water trickling down. Today, it was so cold here that a few of the "trickles" were creating upside down icicles, or ice stalagmites, as seen in the photo to the right.

Black Velvet Canyon
 We commented several times about how this hike really isn't about the canyon scrambling. Out of the 8 miles, only 1 mile is spent scrambling up and back in the canyon. However, that said, the scrambling is very good here. Very large boulders and step ups to match.

Snack Stop Dry Fall

 We enjoyed the colorful canyon while taking glances straight up on the wall where at least three rock climbers were clinging. ( ... maybe in another life ... ) We ate our snack at the regular dry fall then slowly made our way back down to the icicles. We took a higher trail out of the canyon and were met with sunlight on the chollas and yuccas as we dove into the desert terrain once again. Using a different series of bike trails, we aimed to circle around the other side of the hill behind the parking lot where we started.

Exiting Black Velvet Canyon
 But first, we paid a visit to Mike's Rock where Mike OC did the obligatory climb confidently up and perilously down while we watched.

Hiking Across the Desert at Base of Escarpment

 Near the end of the hike, there were many bicyclists zooming by very very fast. Most likely, they had just begun their workout. At that point, our very fast pace was taking its toll on some of us and we were happy to finally walk into the parking lot.

8 miles; 1100 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Mike and Mike's Rock

Taking the Last Break

1 comment:

Lettie said...

Sorry I messed this one. Lettie