Thursday, August 6, 2015

AtBF Canyon Loop - 8/6/15

AtBF Canyon Narrows - First of Five Dry Falls

AtBF Canyon - Angel Peak Bubble Dome in Apex

AtBF Canyon "Lion's Den" in Narrows

Starting into AtBF Canyon
 It was a very exciting day! One month ago, on a fateful hike to Angel Peak, we "discovered" a great navigable canyon that we called AtBF Canyon. This canyon has a section of narrows with five dry falls of considerable challenge. We were anxious to do the canyon again and see if a decent loop could be made. Today was the day! Nine hikers began at the lower Telephone Canyon Road trailhead parking and hiked 0.7 miles up the gravel road. We turned to our right and bushwhacked just a little before turning left on the Showgirl Trail. This put us in the lower drainage of the AtBF Canyon.

Guard Rattler - More Effective than a Guard Dog
 When the Showgirl Trail switchbacked up to the small ridge on the left, we continued up the drainage.

View Back from Canyon Entrance

Arriving at the Narrows of the Canyon
 We were trekking along at a good clip through a deep wash with four foot sandy sides when we came upon a Mojave Rattler. The first half of the line did not see the snake. By the time the last half of the line came hiking by, the rattler was curled up and appearing very menacing. Having stopped to take a photo, the writer was the last to hike by. There were several second thoughts before this was accomplished! Thanks, Chris, for running interference! It didn't take long before we had hiked out of the messy entrance drainage and into the canyon's narrows.

The Walls Close In
 This is where the canyon shines. The walls close in and several large dry falls are presented. The limestone falls are somewhat slippery but there are enough foot holds and hand holds to make the challenges fun.

Old Growth Trees Adorn the Entrance
 Within the canyon, there is a lot of old growth vegetation. The floor of the narrows is intermittently lined with limestone.

One of Five Dry Falls

Limestone Lines Canyon Floor
We climbed each of the dry falls with a little skill acquired from several years of hiking in the Las Vegas area. We passed the cliff overhang area that we dubbed the "Lion's Den." Then we continued up the canyon through an easily hiked wash that was lined with a limestone floor. Finally, around mile marker 3, we came to a fork in the terrain. Angel Peak's bubble dome could be seen up to the right and that's the direction we went a month ago. That route requires a lot of messy bushwhacking.

Small Water Break Beneath "Lion's Den"
 Today, however, we took the left fork which led us into a narrow sandy wash that started out free of obstacles.

Small Slippery Step Up just before Fifth Dry Fall
 As we climbed the wash, we had to bend under branches and step over downed trees. Some obstacles were better passed by going around.

Starting Up the Small Left Fork Wash

Lots of Bending Involved
 Nevertheless, our route du jour required us to follow this wash until we reached the Showgirl Trail. So, we got a full body workout as we bent and contorted through branches and zigzagged our way up and down the sides of the wash. There were many old aluminum cans in the wash. Next time, we will make it a clean-up hike. The brush got heavier as we neared the top. There was one section of rotting logs that we had to pick our way through. Finally, we arrived at the Showgirl Trail not far from its upper trailhead.

Showgirl Trail Junction Break
 We sat on the logs that were so convenient here and had our break. The remaining half of the hike would be on trail.

Hiking the New Showgirl Trail
 After the break, we started down the Showgirl Trail. We weren't far along when we heard bear bells ringing and approaching fast! See photo below!

Daisy, the Beagle, didn't want to pass us. Bear bells on all of them!

Starting Down to Telephone Canyon
The Showgirl Trail is well made and easy to follow as it winds around through the many bike trails in this area. It connects with the Hike a Bike Trail for a short way then turns to the left onto the Trough Trail. Since the Showgirl Trail is not completed here, we were required to descend part of the way on the steep and slippery Trough Trail. Finally, we were able to turn left onto the Showgirl Trail and follow a much easier slope down to Telephone Canyon Road.

Showgirl Trail Switchback
 Instead of crossing the road and joining the Showgirl / Tin Can Alley Trail right away, we trekked a short distance on Telephone Canyon Road. Tiring of the rocky footing, we stepped up to the right onto the trail.

Showgirl Trail crossing Trough Trail

Janet thinks the middle is a great place to be!
 We were now following the Tin Can Alley Trail all the way down until it crossed the Telephone Canyon Road. At this junction, we turned onto the road to the right. Our 8 to 9 mile hike was becoming 10 miles and we had half a mile to go. This is a great day hike and we hope to repeat it yearly. Just make sure that the temperatures are below 80 degrees as they were today. And, bring plenty of water!

10 miles; 1800 feet elevation gain; 5.5 hours

Emerging from the Canyons on Tin Can Alley

Dropping Down to Junction with Telephone Canyon Road

The Road - And Half a Mile to Go

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