Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Red Springs Triple Peak - 2/25/14

New Peak from Red Angel Peak

Southern Calico Hills from the Main Calico Tank

 Beginning with fifteen hikers, the Red Springs Triple Peak hike began in Calico Basin at the Red Springs Picnic Area parking lot. We hiked around the base of the Calico Hills passing the climb to Angel Pass saddle. Next, we hiked over to Ash Meadows and passed a man out walking his nine dogs. The group started with a boatload of energy and the pace reduced our size to fourteen by the time we reached the bottom of Ash Canyon.

 The group broke into two as we began climbing Ash Canyon. A small group charged up the middle of the wash while the larger group opted for the left side high up on the sandstone. The climb up to the left side was steep but the pace did not relent. We almost lost one more hiker as she slowed in the heat. The enthusiasm of the Super Tuesday hikers motivated her to continue ... not to mention a well-timed shot of energy food!

Climbing Ash Canyon

Reaching White Rock in Ash Canyon

 While the wash hikers sat at the top of the canyon watching us, the larger group again divided into a trail group and an upper wash group. Eventually, we all made it to the top and took a well-deserved rest on the rocks below Turtlehead Peak. This was just the warm-up! So we hiked down and up the Rattlesnake Trail circling below the northern end of the Calico Hills. Our next turn would be at the north chute below Red Cap Major.

Starting Up the North Chute to Red Cap Major

View Out from North Chute

 At the junction, three more hikers separated from the group. While they were happy to continue circling at the base of the sandstone hills, the remaining eleven hikers started their adventure up the chute. Since the writer is one of the hikers who bowed out of the scramble across the top, three of the photos in this blog were taken one year ago on the same hike route. To the right is a scene from near the top of Red Cap Major.

Top Tank and Red Cap (Major L, Minor R)

The Step by Step Descent

 The hike climbs up the north chute, up a large step to Red Cap Major, down the other side to the tank level that leads along the top of the sandstone ridge, passes several tanks, negotiates a difficult descent we call the Diane Dempsey descent, climbed over to Calico Peak, then, finally, drops down to the area at the end of the Calico Tanks Trail. The small group of three hikers was waiting patiently when the larger group of eleven hikers appeared above them.

Continuing to Drop Down from Calico Peak

Traverse Trail

 Back to a group of fourteen hikers, we descended to the red meadow below us and took the traverse trail across the red sandstone. After passing the large rock wall on the right, we found our chute ascent to Red Angel Peak. At the top of the chute, we climbed over a couple of boulders and disconcertingly found that the "stripper pole" tree was no long there marking the route.

 One last needed rest on the peak and we were trekking again. This time, we began a steep descent down the wash above Angel Pass saddle. After reaching the saddle, we continued down to the base of the hills on a well-trod trail connecting with the wide trail that led back to the cars. Beautiful day. Hard work. Happy.

5.6 miles; 2000 feet elevation gain; 5 hours (including a long unscheduled break)

Reaching Angel Pass Saddle

Terra Firma at Last

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