Friday, April 11, 2014

Seven Pools of Gray Fox Canyon - 4/11/14

View Out Gray Fox Canyon Toward Krafft Mountain

The Gray Fox for Whom the Canyon was Named in 2012

Starting Out
 Twelve hikers came out for a good scramble today and Gray Fox Canyon obliged. We began at the dirt parking area deep in Calico Basin and headed out toward the 5 Stop Hill of Red Rock Canyon NCA. Half of the group decided to hike up the trail while the other half started their scramble early by climbing onto Krafft Mtn to reach the saddle via a striped rocky canyon.

Climbing "The Wall" on the Alternate Scramble to the Saddle
 We were introduced to "The Wall" going up and found it to be a bunch of fun. Then, Jim told us that the best route from there led us in a two o'clock direction even though the ten o'clock direction seemed to be the obvious choice.

The Alternate Scramble to the Saddle

Starting Down from Saddle to Gateway Canyon
We arrived exactly at the saddle where the other group sat waiting for us. After a short breather, we started down the trail to Gateway Canyon. On the way down, we noticed that the beavertail cacti are blooming among other flowers and the redbud trees are now putting out their leaves.

Reaching the canyon, we turned to the right and found the entrance to Gray Fox Canyon. It became obvious very quickly that we would be climbing straight up the middle of the wash today.

Starting Up Gray Fox Canyon
 As we made our first level change, we found our first pool. It was fairly full of water and there were several tiny frogs swimming about in it.

The First Pool of the Morning (There were cute frogs here!)

Which way?
 The canyon narrowed and we had to climb above the wash on the right side. A few hikers climbed through a crack with a pool to the left. The writer tried this route going back down later. The difficulty rating was similar. Next, we came to the crux of the hike! Basically, we had to climb a rock fall. However, the climb was dicey as we dealt with steeply slanted boulders, a less than sturdy redbud tree and a pull up that required masculine strength. (The writer received her "masculine strength" from behind!)

Scramble Beginning to get Interesting
 Slowly, all twelve of us emerged from the top of the hole and continued climbing the wash.

The "Crux" of the hike as seen on the way up, then, on the way down.

Jerry says, "Hi."
 We had seen the next point of interest on previous hikes which was a sandstone ledge on a steep beehive formation. This ledge continued around about thirty feet above the floor of the wash with a couple more obstacles thrown in. Just before you reach the safety of solid terra firma again, the steepness increases and sometimes requires a "sit and side-scoot." (Are you writing this down?)

Walking the Wall
 Anyway, this is the area where the real "seven pools" are supposed to be. However, today, there was very little water in this section.

Passing Several Small Dry Pools

Jerry Follows John Ch.
We did find one pool with water as seen in the photo to the left. Only the strongest hikers attempted scaling the wall above the pool. The rest of us climbed up to the left. (On the way back down, we took a group photo at this same pool.) At this point, the group had spread out as they chose their own route up the red sandstone. We kept and eye on each other and Jim to know when to head in a different direction. At a nice bouldered area with shade, we stopped and took our break. The view was similar to the view in the first photo of the entry. The cloud cover, again, saved us from a potentially very warm day.

 Our descent started a lot like our ascent ended with hikers choosing their own route through this somewhat treacherous section. After making the group photo, we started following Jim again.

Eleven Men and One Lady Behind the Camera
He led us down the same way we came up and when we reached the crux down climb, care was taken to make sure everyone made it down safely. We found that it was a lot easier to go down here than go up.

Passing the Second Pool on the Way Down

Dropping Down Colorful Gateway Canyon
 After the crux, we swiftly finished the descent to Gateway Canyon where we hiked down the gravel wash a short ways and found the Candy Cane Chute. Here, we climbed up to the right and made our way up the trail and/or wash to the saddle. On tired legs, we hiked down 5 Stop Hill and back to the cars. What a fun morning!

Ascending at the Candy Cane Chute
 4.5 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Finishing the Hike

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