Sunday, March 16, 2014

La Madre Double Arch - 3/16/14

La Madre Double Arch

Escarpment View from La Madre Double Arch

Hiking the La Madre Trail
 The La Madre Double Arch hike is another new hike for the club. Three club members scouted it out a couple of months ago and today, seven hikers performed a smooth and formidable five mile hike up into the foothills of the La Madre Mountain Range of Red Rock Canyon NCA. We parked at the White Rock Trailhead parking off of the scenic loop at the end of the White Rock Springs Road and began our hike up the White Rock Hills Trail. Very quickly, we turned right onto the Keystone Thrust Trail and climbed a few steps.

Daylight Can be Seen Through Arch Window from a Distance
 As we steadily climbed up past the Keystone Thrust Trail junction, we realized we could see our target in the distance. With good eyes, you can see daylight passing through the arch that lies diagonally from the line of the trail we were on.

Surrounding Views from Ascent

Starting Up Gravel Wash Section
 We continued hiking up past the junction for the Sandstone Quarry/White Rock Hills Loop hike. There was a small herd of bighorns that we followed up the hill but we never got really close enough for photos. The trail led along the edge of a deep wash to the right. An overlook showed us that the wash was filled with pinnacle type limestone or sandstone rocks. After the overlook, the trail gently turned to the left and brought us to a wide gravel wash. Here, we were obliged to continue our climb up through the deep gravel. Small bits of scrambling began as well.

First Good View of the Arches
 The wash narrowed and turned a curve to the right. It was here that we got our first good view of the double arches. To be clear, the arch is mainly one large opening with a small window in the rock above it. The arch was named by a well-established hiking group here in Las Vegas and the name stuck!

Starting Up Small Wash Toward Arches

It Gets Steeper and Steeper
After turning the wash corner, we began a much steeper scramble up through a small wash. This wash had two chutes that were separated by brush and mounds of gravel. We climbed until we were past the arch that was to our left. Then, we made our way over to the back side of the arch. There was somewhat of a trail but it was filled with loose rock. Be very careful while exploring the arch area. Finally, we were making our way underneath the arch and through to the other side. Photos were difficult on the back side because of brush covering the opening. After dropping through the opening, photos were a bit more accessible from the other side, however, the light was not as good.

View Through Arch from Back Side
 We were quite impressed with the size of the arch and the views toward the escarpment were beautiful. We also noted that we were around 300 feet higher than Turtlehead Peak!

View Through Arch from Front Side

Lounging in the Shadow of a Small Cave Below Arch
 Under the front "leg" of the arch, there is a small cave that provided shade for our lunch break. The weather was perfect, today, so shade was just an option. After our break, we faced a long, steep, loose drop back down to the small wash. We were a careful group today and the drop took several minutes but we all made it down in one piece. After getting off of the hill, we had to find our way back down the steep small wash. These rocks were also loose and we were pretty slow in making our progress.

Steep Drop from Arch to Small Wash
 Finally, we reached the wide gravel wash and we began relaxing a little. We found the cairn we had placed in the wash to tell us when to junction with the trail then climbed out to our left.

Last View of the Arches from Small Wash

Hiking Out the La Madre Trail
 Once we were back on the trail, it was a simple matter of hiking the trail back to the cars. It seemed that the "down" just kept coming! We passed several recreational hikers when we got closer to the Keystone Thrust Fault. And, when we reached the parking lot, we were amazed at the size of the Sunday afternoon crowd. It's hard to resist this perfect hiking weather and that's felt all around town!

5.2 miles; 1900 feet elevation gain; 4 hours.

Down, Down, Down

Overlook to Pinnacle Wash

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