Sunday, February 2, 2014

Tanks Discovery Examined - 2/2/14

Top of Phase I Hill View

Exclamation Point Tank

 Six hikers wanted some Sunday Scramble exercise so we went to the Sandstone Quarry trailhead in Red Rock Canyon NCA for a four mile loop that was half Tank Discovery Scramble and half new routes incorporated into the original hike. We began by hiking up the wash to the arch turnoff. Along the way, we noticed that the manzanita is blooming in this area. The cold snap that we are now experiencing may put a stop to that! We turned right and headed into the sandstone hills.

Under the Arch
 The arch was new for Scott. It's always fun to show people new stuff. So, we took a moment to crawl up underneath the arch and check out the redbud trees that are still baring their winterized limbs.

Descending Off of Phase I Hill

From the arch, the hike continued up the sandstone crack and zigzagged up to the top of the hill. This woke our hearts up fast! We overlooked the park then descended down to the Calico Tanks Trail but quickly began another ascent (new to the hike) up to the ridge saddle. Not surprisingly, there was already a pretty good trail that led us up through the rock and we ended at the base of the Phase I Hill. Before us laid the shallow crack that bisected the sandstone ridge.

Traversing from New Ascent to Saddle to Upper Ridge Climb
 We followed the crack trail past the back of Rooster Rock and connected with the original Tank Discovery Scramble route when we turned right to begin our upper ridge climb.

Climbing to Upper Ridge

 On the upper ridge, we inspected the large deep tank on the left side then hiked over and found the Exclamation Tank full of water as seen in the second photo of this entry. There is water in all the tanks but with this exception, the tanks are not nearly full. Next, we dropped over to the right side of the ridge and took the brushy traverse down and up to the big rock fall below the sunken tank above. Instead of climbing up the rock fall, we traversed over to the Long Pool area below Calico II Peak.

View from End of Lower Calico II Peak
 We passed a half full Long Pool and hiked over to Lower Calico II where we had our morning break. It was interesting how pink the sandstone appeared to be under the overcast skies.

View of New Peak and Krafft Mountain from Near High Point of Hike

 After the break, we faced the most challenging section of today's route. Finding our way up a crack to the top of the wash route that we use between Calico II Peak and the main Calico Tank was fun and interesting. On the way, we noted a large cave that we would like to explore someday. (Just not today!) To the right, this is a photo of two of today's hikers climbing out of the crack and up to the high point above the targeted wash. We marveled at the view of the main tank far below then descended the wash down to the Calico Tanks Trail.

Little Slot Canyon
 The steps of the Calico Tanks Trail were accommodating even though it didn't really seem like hiking! So, we made our way over to the small beautiful white slot canyon and passed a small arch up to the left.

Climbing Up Hill Behind Little Slot Canyon

 Here, we decided to climb the rock hill past the little arch. It was a fun scramble and just before we reached the top (always leave more for another day!) we turned to our left and began a descent through three levels to the large gravel wash that we rarely use. Once in the wash, we were home free, connecting back onto the Calico Tanks Trail all the way out to the cars. A short but fun workout and, now, we are ready for the Super Bowl!

3.7 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Coming Off of Hill into Gravel Wash

Hiking Out

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