Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cholla Forest via Seven Falls Canyon - 2/14/15

Cholla Forest (Mt. Wilson in Background)

Old Cholla Plant

Bacon Canyon

 Appropriately, there were fourteen hikers on this Valentine's Day hike. The weather was perfect! Although in the past, we have begun from the paved road, we decided to drive all the way up to the water tank to begin the hike off a dirt road near the entrance booth of Lake Mead NRA on Lakeshore Road. The dirt road was in very good condition and this saved us from hiking a half mile up and back in the desert sun.

First Dry Fall
 After checking out the "bunker" near the trailhead, we hiked up the wash until we came to a fork. A right turn started us on a fun trip up Seven Falls Canyon.

First Dry Fall

We were a rugged and fun-loving group of hikers, as we tackled each dry fall choosing the hardest route we thought we could handle. Totally doable, each fall presented its own set of challenges. On a couple of the falls, most of us chose the "up and around" route but, even those routes were ... interesting. As we hiked up canyon, we noticed that the brittlebushes were blooming.

Brittlebush Blooming
 The second dry fall included a rabbit hole. Then the dry fall numbers kind of got confusing. So, what is considered a dry fall in Seven Falls Canyon? Perhaps, any dry fall that is higher than ten feet?

Lots of Scrambling Class 2 & 3 in Seven Falls Canyon

 Not sure but there were plenty of dry falls that were between five and ten feet high as well. ... Do we count them? ... Anyway, a few of the hikers managed to climb the 3rd class challenges. All of the hikers completed the canyon without having to take unscheduled up and arounds. Too soon, we reached the canyon junction; a 4-way junction.

Dry Fall Number 4 (Je pense!)
 The canyon to the right leads to Majestic Canyon ... you know, the one with the ropes.

After the Left Turn

 The canyon ahead just went to the ridge and, our canyon to the left, was what we chose. A couple more dry falls (not part of the seven) were climbed and we finished the canyon in the red. From here, we climbed up to the ridge in front of us and dropped down to the power pole valley on a small trail. Crossing the power pole valley, Chuck and Don set up a cairn at one of the power poles then we finished crossing the valley and turned to our right.

Setting up a Precarious Cairn at the Power Lines
 A bighorn carcass that used to be in this area is no longer present. We walked up the road and turned around the corner to the left.

Bouquet of Chollas at Break Time

 A little further up the road is Cholla Forest, a collection of teddy bear chollas in one location. Some of the cacti are quite old and there are little cholla bits laying all over the ground among them. Careful! They stick to your shoes, too. We took our long break here at just around 3 miles. Afterwards, we continued up the same dirt road until we reached the saddle and a slip and slide downhill.

First Dry Fall of Descent
 Very soon, we found the first dry fall of the descent. This is a tricky dude but we all got down without big problems.

Following the Trail Over to the Top of Bacon Canyon

 A little more canyon scrambling then we found ourselves on the dirt road that we had crossed earlier, hiking down power pole valley. Watch for the red hill / wash on the left side and cross over to climb up here. Drop, climb and turn right on a small trail. Follow this trail until you see a gentle-ish ridge dropping down to the canyon on your left. This would be the top of Bacon Canyon.

Zigzag Down this Dry Fall in Bacon Canyon
 Bacon Canyon has some good scrambling in it, too. Beware that there is one dry fall that is best zigzagged down to the right. Later, there is another one that the hiker must scootch over to the right while dropping. It's all fun!

Small Break in the Shade

 When the bacon colors start to show, look for a small arch up on the ridge to your left. Now, we were ready for a fun zigzaggy drop through the "bacon." It's good that there are no really difficult drops here because the colors will have you mesmerized! At the bottom, we had completed the loop and we hiked out of the canyon to the cars. Great hike! This is a good one!

6.5 miles; 1400 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Entering the "Bacon"

Bacon Canyon Colors

Near the End of Bacon Canyon
 Although today's route started from the water tank, everything else is the same as the previously made track below.

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