Sunday, March 8, 2015

Little Finland & The Subway at Gold Butte - 3/7/15

Little Finland (Partial)

Little Finland in Entirety

The Subway (aka The Grotto)

 "Northeast of Las Vegas waits the 350,000-acre region known as Gold Butte, which offers wondrous geology, intriguing history and prehistory, remote and undeveloped camping opportunities, important and fragile wildlife species, and timeless solitude." ~ Friends of Nevada Wilderness

This region is where seven club hikers traveled to for an 8 mile strenuous loop adventure, today.

Wall of Petroglyphs at Trailhead

Red Rock Expanse from Near Trailhead

After exiting I-15 at #112, 3 miles east, 21 miles on Gold Butte Road, stopping at Whitney Pockets to consolidate 7 adults into one vehicle, 4 miles on a good graded dirt road, and finally 4 miles on a not so good dirt road, we arrived at the Wall of Petroglyphs (aka Lollipops) and parked. Our hike began at the first open space to the right of the wall. Our journey had already been quite interesting and blooming joshua trees among the redstone at the beginning of the hike seemed to provide the perfect setting to continue.

The Corral from Little Finland Back Approach
As we made a bee line over to the high point rock on the left, we could see the famous cattle corral down to our left.

Grand Back Entrance to Little Finland

We circled around the back side of the high point rock to the left and eventually began a drop down to the right into the Grand Back Entrance to Little Finland. This is a large plateau area filled with redstone formations that were created by erosion. The narrow and fragile looking "fins" are made of a stronger type of sandstone that is laced with various metals. Therefore, these formations are, as Michelangelo might put it, the sculpture within the rock. We slowly meandered across the plateau enjoying the artwork.

Little Finland Formation
Recent rains have wetted the sand and brought out the red rock colors and the white mineral deposits.

When we reached the other end of the plateau, we squeezed through the fence and dropped down to the dirt field below to walk the length of the Little Finland plateau and the Red Bluff Spring area. We passed through the wildlife fence and continued up through the little canyon; a trail normally used for recreational hikers' approach to the famous area. This trail led us out to the cattle corral that we had seen from above. It lies next to the main dirt road on which we came in.

Hiking Through the Red Bluff Spring Canyon
The small canyon was not much more wet than usual.

Red Bluff Spring Canyon

The cattle corral is in good working order still. We went inside and took a few photos. We wondered if the corral was used last spring at the Great Cliven Bundy Cattle Roundup! After our corral inspection, we crossed the wide main dirt road and hiked up a small wash to the next level of terrain. Our next target laid across the desert. It was a large lone rock called Baby Butte. When this hike was first laid out, we followed cattle trails here and there. It was very nice to see that an actual continuous trail leads straight over to Baby Butte from the small wash.

Taking a Break at the Baby Butte Campsite
We took our lunch break in the shade of the campsite rocks near Baby Butte. Excellent digs!

Climbing Up through the Slot to Next Level

After the break, we crossed the deep wash next to us and walked along the wall opposite to the wash. No petroglyphs here. So, we hiked over to a narrow slot opening where we could make a fun climb up to the next level. The view back of Baby Butte from the top is seen in the photo to the right. We hiked around to an open "canyon" on the right marked by a lone boulder at the end. Passing through an opening on the left at the end, we found the small slot that holds a few mysterious petroglyphs.

Enjoying the Petroglyphs in the Small Slot
Our imaginations soared. Who lived here? What was done inside this cozy habitat?

The Optional Cliff Route

After correcting a wrong fork choice, we hiked out of the canyon area and around to a cliff. Four hikers took the challenge and down climbed the cliff for a little excitement. The other three chose to hike around and were there to oversee the most difficult section of the cliff drop. Not far from here, after viewing several faded petroglyphs on the outer walls, the seven hikers walked into The Subway, a large slot canyon held sacred by the native Americans. Inside, we slowly viewed many faded petroglyphs along its walls.

Climbing Up to View the Petroglyphs at the End of the Subway
The best petroglyphs were etched into the black rock at the end of the slot and we climbed up to take a look.

Boulder Hopping in Big Boulder Canyon

We exited The Subway through a slot on the north side. At the exit of this slot, we viewed one more petroglyph on the wall to the right. Then, we embarked on the Big Boulder Canyon Scramble Loop. We circled around the wall to our left climbing over the rocks in our way. Next to the wall, we found an old trail that led us on a scramble adventure above the deep canyon below and to the right. After reaching the narrows at the top, we waded through fresh grown catclaws and foot high grass. Most wildlife is prevented from entering into this area due to boulders, brush and a chock rock.

Overview of Today's Hiking Area
We fought our way through the brush squeezing through the narrows, passed over the chock rock then climbed up the wall to our left. We crossed over the plateau until we reached an interesting and exciting down climb of a steep sandstone ramp affectionately named Lubinski Point.

Enjoying(?) Lubinski Point

After our challenging drop, we hiked along the wall on our left until we reached the area above The Subway. We found the trail down into the Subway from the south side and exited out to Lizard Rock. Finally tired and taking note of the soon to set sun, we climbed up through the Walk Through Arch and began making the best bee line hike back to the cars that we could. It was already a long day so we piled back into our car and started the long drive home. The setting sun brought the colors of Gold Butte alive. Great day in a beautiful area of the desert.

8 miles; 1200 feet elevation gain; 5.5 hours

Anne Hikes Down through the Evening Shade

Evening Light at an Old Campsite

Evening at Whitney Pockets

Old Map of Vehicle Approach to Gold Butte AtBF Hiking Areas

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