Sunday, January 19, 2014

Terrace Canyon - 1/19/14

Ice Fall in Terrace Canyon

Upper Ice Slide of Terrace Canyon

 Eleven hikers were in for a treat today. We parked at the Pine Creek Trailhead off of the scenic loop in Red Rock Canyon NCA and started out for a 6 hour, 6 mile, up and back hike to Terrace Canyon. The "treat" was that the small stream of water that flows down the terraces in Terrace Canyon was frozen into ice falls. Since we rarely do this hike in January, none of the eleven hikers had ever seen the ice falls that we saw today. The first course of action was to drop down into Pine Creek Canyon and take the trails all the way to the entrance of the Pine Creek South Fork canyon on the left side of Mescalito Peak.

Colorful Rocks in Pine Creek South Fork

Long Pool in Pine Creek South Fork

 We stashed our hiking sticks at the beginning of the canyon part of the hike. The remaining route would be strictly scrambling up, over, and around boulders of all sizes. Mike OC led us up with the occasional advice from John N. It's like a big puzzle trying to find the easiest and sometimes the only way up to the next level. We channeled our inner bighorns and leapt from rock to rock or climbed up impossibly steep sandstone using our trusty hiking boot soles. This canyon has a history of injuring hikers and today would be no different.

Hiking Shoe Soles Meet Sandstone

No Other Way Around

There are three lefts and a right on this route. The first left is at Mescalito. The next two times there is a fork in the canyon, hikers need to be aware and take the left fork. The last left fork is signified by a large cairn and a tall dead pine that grows in the other fork. When we reached this last left turn, we knew that we were almost there. One more canyon fork came and we made our right. This fork is not so apparent but if you just stick to the wall on the right side, you will be hiking in the right direction.

Almost to the Terraces

The Terraces of Terrace Canyon

 Finally, Terrace Canyon appeared up to our left. As usual, there was a small amount of water dribbling down the terraces. But, when we reached the terraces about half way up, we began to see frozen ice falls that were absolutely gorgeous. We took a lot of photos and carefully climbed up to the top where there was some sun to warm us. In front of us, as we gazed down canyon, Bridge Mountain was large and yellow. We enjoyed a snack break then began our descent.

Ice Fall in Terrace Canyon

Upper Ice Fall in Terrace Canyon

 The descent down the terraces was slow. It is very slippery in some places even though there is no moss or water on the rock. At one of the level changes, we had our first injury when a hiker slipped and jarred her shoulder when she grabbed a rock. The second injury occurred when a hiker tried descending off of a huge boulder further down into the canyon and lost his grip. This resulted in an injured ankle. From then on, Terrace Canyon had gotten our attention ... if it didn't already have it!

Eleven Scramblers

Returning to the Bottom of Terrace Canyon

 We got all the way down to the exit of the canyon without further incidents but when the hiker with the injured ankle arrived at the trails to hike out, the ankle could no longer be protected. The exit out of Pine Creek Canyon was slow but we made it. The hike was challenging and beautiful with water, ice and a lot of colorful rocks. Great weather.

6 miles; 1350 feet elevation gain; 6 hours


Bridge Above Canyon on Left Side Going Up

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