Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gold Strike Hot Springs - 1/21/14

Triple Waterfalls in Gold Strike Canyon

O'Callaghan-Tillman Bridge from Mouth of Gold Strike Canyon

The Super Tuesday hike to Gold Strike Hot Springs in the Lake Mead NRA attracted fifteen great hikers to the east side of town today. We drove down Hwy 93 and exited at the Hoover Dam & Visitor Center exit but turned right at the bottom of the ramp. We followed the road veering to the left onto a dirt road and down to the trailhead parking. Excitement sizzled just under the surface! At least half of the group were newbies to the hike. The other half already knew what was coming and were looking forward to the challenges ahead.

From the Trailhead to the Good Stuff
The hike starts out down a gravelly wash going underneath the highway bridge high above.

Four of the Five Obstacles before the Hot Springs

Gold Strike Canyon is divided into two separate sections: Before the hot springs and After the hot springs begin. There are five obstacles before the hot springs:
1) Rock Garden
2) The Stairs
3) The Slide (optional up and around)
4) The Crescent
5) Rope Slide

Starting Below the Hot Springs (Hot Pool on Left)
By the time we reached the hot springs, we were primed for ropes and a good time!

Hiking Along the Hot Stream

The last half mile between the hot springs and the Colorado River is full of obstacles, four ropes, stream crossings, hot pools, slippery hand and foot holds and several beautiful waterfalls. John B. led the hike with acute knowledge of the trail. He knew the easiest ways ... and sometimes the only ways ... to get from point A to point B. He volunteers his time cleaning this trail almost every week during the fall, winter and spring. (Just a note, girls: Either bury your toilet paper or at least pee off trail!) ... Jus' sayin'.

Trying Not to Get Feet Wet ...
Most of us tried to keep our feet dry but the hike became a lot easier when that effort dissipated.

A Difficult Roped Slide

One of the most difficult rope obstacles was a slide down a rock that ended in a 3 to 4 foot drop. An option here is to use the rope down a shorter drop in a small waterfall. All the rocks that are used for the trail have become extremely slippery due to overuse. This has increased the danger of slipping and falling and much care should be taken constantly. The water level of the hot springs area has been high due to extra geothermal activity.

A Few Gold Strike Hot Springs Waterfalls
Beautiful waterfalls are at every drop in this last half mile. There are also several hot pools interspersed throughout this section.

As Easy as Left, Right, Left
The group stayed together while going down since most everyone wanted to learn the best ways to navigate.

One of the Larger Pools
Every time we passed a pool, hands would reach in to test the temperature of the water.

Stream Crossing
Plants were very green. The velcro bushes had grown very large and healthy!

The Hot Shower
Many times, you will see campers taking a shower under the hot shower coming off of the wall as seen above.

Nearing the River
There is a lot of algae, etc. living on the walls of the canyon above the hot springs. (It's the "etc." that some of us worry about!)

First View of Colorado River
We were excited to finally see the river coming into view at this point. The opposite wall of the Black Canyon loomed beyond.

Part of Group Hiking Over to Hot Springs Cove

While taking our break at the river, half of the group scaled the neighboring wall to pay a visit to the hot springs cove just up river. The river's water level was too high to allow wading over there. Four hikers tried to make it over to sauna cave but swimming would have been necessary. They waded out until the water was chest level then gave up. The other half of the group sat on the rocks and took photos. Ducks swam around below us.

Is it too deep yet? ... Yep!
After the break, we started back up the canyon encountering all the obstacles from the opposite direction. Boosting was required many times and the "slippery" factor made the going even tougher.

Tackling the Obstacles Going Back Up

Reaching the top of the hot springs, we passed a couple of skinny dippers in one of the hot pools. The group divided into the marrieds (who kept going) and the bachelors (who hung around a minute or two!) Eventually, we regrouped at the rock garden and finished the graveled wash out. It was a great hike and a great day!

5 miles; 900 feet elevation gain; 4.25 hours

Odd Rock and Waterfall

Colorful Canyon Wall Decor

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