Sunday, February 8, 2015

Escarpment Base Trail Extended - 2/8/15

Rainbow Peak and a "Dead Tree" (for Steve)

SMYC Trail nearing Lost Creek Trailhead

Morning Light on a Cholla

 "Oh, what a beautiful morning!" It already feels like spring in the desert! With temperatures around 70 degrees, fifteen hikers (including 5 JROTC student guests) arrived at the Red Rock Canyon NCA Scenic Loop exit parking lot expecting a whopper of a hike today! The 12.5 mile hike would begin there and travel along the base of the Red Rock escarpment on trails all the way up to the Lost Creek trailhead; then return the same way.

Crossing Pine Creek
 Our first trail was a "social" trail that took us directly to the Oak Creek trailhead off of the Scenic Loop. Next, we connected with the Arnight Trail that took us all the way down to Pine Creek. The sound of the babbling brook could be heard from the top of the hill.

Arriving at the Wilson Homestead

 After crossing the water filled creek, we took our second rest stop at the old Wilson homestead. Some of the students had not heard the Wilson story so we took a moment to fill them in. Interesting, the main thing that caught everyone's attention about the story was the old apple tree that still struggles to survive down by the creek. We hiked up a part of the Pine Creek trail and passed by the old Wilson oven as seen in the photo to the left. Soon after that, we turned left onto Dale's Trail.

Steep Hill on Dale's Trail
 Dale's Trail is one of the prettiest trails in Red Rock. It's colors and scenery are unique. We passed Skull Rock on its west side and began a climb up one of the many hills on this trail.

Calico Hills in Background

 The nature of today's hike was such that we were constantly dipping into washes and climbing out of them. Finally, we passed through the Ice Box Canyon Trail area and connected with the SMYC Trail. This trail has its own charm with large boulders and several pinion pines. At the end, we crossed the Red Rock Wash and hiked into the Lost Creek trailhead for our snack break. Around 6.25 miles down and the same to go.

Taking a Break at the Lost Creek Trail Junction
 The park was very busy today. As we sat on the trail rocks, families walked by going to the Lost Creek waterfall. We enjoyed the break but still felt pretty fresh.

Returning on the SMYC Trail

 The pace picked up a little as we started back. Until then, Chris had been keeping his speed down due to the length of the hike. The students were going strong and seemed to be enjoying the energy output as much as we were. Conversations among the group never lagged for long. So much to say in 6 hours!

A Deep Wash Crossing on Dale's Trail
 SMYC Trail passed under our feet. Then Dale's Trail came next. We finally started feeling the ups and downs. By the time we got to Skull Rock (on the east side this time), most of us were ready for a break.

Skull Rock Break

 Refreshed, we finished Dale's Trail and continued past Pine Creek. The small climb up Arnight Trail gave our secrets away. Yep. We were getting tired. Nevertheless, we dealt with the very rocky trail and waltzed into the Oak Creek trailhead for one last break. One more mile on softer earth and we were back at the cars. We enjoyed the hike and the 5 student guests. Time to rest the feet!

12.5 miles; 1850 feet elevation gain; 6 hours

Passing Through Pine Creek Area on the Return

Climbing up on the Arnight/Knoll Trail

One More Mile Remains at the Oak Creek Trailhead

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