Sunday, November 2, 2014

Calico Hills Loop CCW - 11/2/14

Small Slot

A Favorite Sandstone View

 Nine hikers woke to a cool morning and met at the Red Springs Picnic Area parking lot to start a hike that would encircle the Calico Hills of Red Rock Canyon NCA. Ten minutes into the hike, outer clothing layers had to be removed. Reminder: If you are comfortable, temperature- wise, before you begin hiking, you will quickly be too warm! We hiked out the parking lot and up Sandstone Road in Calico Basin to the dirt parking area above. From there, we took the trail that leads through the Krafft Mountain boulder field to get to the 5 Stop Hill Trail.

Climbing 5 Stop Hill
 When we passed three hikers on 5 Stop Hill, we heard grumbling about how fast we hike. No, we're not the fastest group in town but we're not slow.

Descending to Gateway Canyon - Turtlehead Peak Beyond

 At the top of Krafft Saddle, we took a short break to catch our breaths. We had already hiked a mile when we started up the steep hill. And, we weren't wasting time! Next, we dropped down into Gateway Canyon via the trail that leads up canyon. Turtlehead Peak dominated the view all the way down. The gravel in Gateway Canyon led us up to the Rattlesnake Trail junction, a canyon wash that empties into Gateway from the Red Cap area.

Climbing Rattlesnake Trail to Base of Red Cap
 The climb up Rattlesnake Canyon Trail required a little bit of scrambling. Watch out for that low hanging branch right after a step up. It nearly took out the writer!

Rattlesnake Trail

 The high point of today's hike was the northern base of Red Cap. We circled around the base on the Rattlesnake Trail then came to the place where we would cross through the sandstone heading toward Sandstone Quarry. This area is a favorite for views of the northern Calico Hills and the escarpment beyond. Clouds were starting to float in from the west and the scenery improved exponentially! (Not that it needed to.)

Nearing the Calico Tanks Trail
 We dropped through the small slot canyon seen in the first photo then connected with the Calico Tanks Trail. We took our break at Sandstone Quarry with a lot of visitors milling about.

Sunshine, Shadows & Sandstone

 We took a side trip up into a slot canyon near the parking lot. David always has a few new tricks up his sleeve! After marveling at the geology, we returned to the Grand Circle Trail that leads from Sandstone Quarry down to Calico II. The pace of the hike sped up. The easy hiking took us past the rocks that hold petroglyphs. We didn't get a good look to see if the graffiti had been removed.

Hiking the Wash Below Calico II Overlook
 When we were almost to the overlook, we dropped into the wash and passed Calico II there. Back on the Grand Circle Trail, we hiked to Calico I.

Sandstone Hiking

 Again, we circumvented the busy trail by using the wash. This time, we stayed in the wash. The first obstacle was the slot-to-slide. The bottom of the slide was more washed out and did not have any rocks built up under it. Two hikers decided to retrace their steps to go up and around. More obstacles were faced and negotiated. The wash out continued in some of the least convenient places. But, we conquered them and moved on.

The Wash Between Calico I and Red Springs
 We hiked up onto the trail to the left at the end of the wash. The clouds were overtaking us from behind.

Connecting with the Trail

 As we passed some of the rock climbing routes, we noticed that the walls were busy. On the trail, we hiked through a second petroglyph area without stopping. Onward and upward, we hiked under the balanced rock leaning against the wall above and up to the top of the hill above the Red Springs boardwalk. After carefully descending the last hill, we stepped onto the boardwalk for our finale. Great hike. Enjoyed David's choice of routes.

8 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 4.25 hours

Busy Day for Rock Climbers at Red Rock

Descending the Hill above Red Springs

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