Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cleopatra Wash - 2/4/14

Cleopatra Cove at Lake Mead NRA

Ancient Volcanic Walls and Spires

 Ten hikers made the long trek up to MM 30 on Northshore Road in Lake Mead NRA. They turned right precisely at the mile marker onto Boathouse Cove Road, a high clearance small dirt road. Around the 2 mile or so mark, there is a large open area where we pulled our 3 cars aside and began our hike down Cleopatra Wash.

 This wash has a complicated geologic past. For a good explanation of why this wash carries the name "Cleopatra," either go to the Bird and Hike or Summitpost web site. For now, suffice it to say that this area was formed from the Cleopatra- Hamblin paleovolcano during the Mesozoic era and the thin walls and spires that border the wash were formed over time after the volcano became extinct.

One of the Easier Dry Falls

 The interesting green rock within the wash is called breccias. This was formed when ash began covering volcanic rocks that already existed in the area. We hiked quickly down the gravelly wash meeting up with several dry falls. There were only a handful of spillovers that were difficult and slippery. All of these obstacles had a trail that led up and around the hot spot. Half of our group today were non-plussed by the difficulty ratings and took each scramble as they came.

Just a Little Too High and Awkward for Kay

 When we got down to the end slot, most of the group dropped down to view the high fall at the end. Many of the hikers, today, were new to the route and we were happy to oblige them with showing them around. Afterwards, we all went up over the saddle. The trail up to the saddle seemed to have been torn up by previous hikers. At the top we saw burro or horse manure. Not sure if there were horses on this trail ... I hope not!

Breccia Rock formed from Old Volcanic Rock Covered with Younger Ash

Steep Down Climb to Cove

 From the saddle, the climb down to the cove is also very steep unless you use the trail over to the right that takes a little longer. Three hikers decided to take their break at the top of the hill where they could overlook the cove and lake. The remaining seven hikers went on down to take their break at the water's edge. The lake was a beautiful and calm blue today and the water level was further out than during last year's hike.

Taking a Break at Water's Edge

 Carefully, each hiker made the trek up and over the saddle to return to the wash. The sun was higher in the sky and had warmed up everything splendidly! Unfortunately, the hike up the gravelly wash was taxing and the sun's heat was just one more thing to make the trip a little more uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the wash appears different from the other direction so we enjoyed the scenery as we climbed. As we passed, we noted the rock formation of Cleopatra high up on the north wall.

Cleopatra Spire Rock Formation from Wash

 One by one, we climbed up the last (or first) dry fall. The gravel was beginning to get old. The only thing left to do was get back to the cars. Thinking that we knew the correct wash to take, we neglected to look back as we came to a many wash junction on the way down. Oops! Hilariously, we were crawling all over the washes and ridges at one point while we looked for the road, wash and/or cars!

We found the road and then the cars just as the last hiker ... the one with the GPS ... came hiking in. He laughed! Anyway, we always have a good time.

7 miles; 1200 feet elevation gain; just under 4 hours of hiking; around 2 hours of driving out and back from the meeting location

Taking a Small Step Up

Ancient Volcanic Spire

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