Saturday, September 12, 2015

Lee Canyon Narrows (4 & 7 mile hikes) - 9/12/15

Inside Lee Canyon Narrows

Lee Canyon Trail

Lee Canyon Upper Narrows

Crossing Lee Canyon Road to Trail Down
 What an adventure it was, today, as twenty-four club members arrived for the combined 4 and 7 mile hikes at the Lee Canyon Narrows found along the Lee Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains NRA. Eight hikers decided to hike the shorter 4 mile version and sixteen hikers signed up for the long haul of what turned out to be 7 miles. We parked at the Sawmill Trailhead and walked down through the horse trailer section of the parking area. After a very short stint on Cardamine Road, we turned right and crossed over Lee Canyon Road where we found the trail that leads down into Lee Canyon.

Trail Down into Lee Canyon
 There is a very old forest trail sign in box that is no longer used at the top of the trail. So, from there, we enjoyed the view of Mummy's Nose as we dropped down the trail on the steepish hill.

Packard that Once Was
 The trail continued to the left at the bottom of the hill. We took note of a buried car with a chrome bumper under the hill to the left then proceeded along a nice trail that passed yet another rusted car. Perhaps this one was a Packard.

Lee Canyon Narrows from Up & Around Trail

The Up & Around Trail
 As we neared the Lee Canyon Narrows, the trail started to climb ... but just a short way. At the top of the hill, we had a great view of the narrows down to our right. Next, we dropped steeply down on a somewhat slippery graveled slope to the lower end of the narrows opening. Finding our way up wash from here, we entered the passage between the walls and explored the fascinating space. Most of us ducked under the huge chock rock held in place within the narrows.

Entering Lee Canyon Narrows
 The gravel floor was high and we had to bend quite a bit to get under the rock with our packs on!

Inside the Narrows

Ducking under the Chock Rock
We returned out the same way and connected again with the trail below. It was immediately obvious that the canyon wash had been recently flooded by rains. Luckily, most of the trail's wash crossings were marked by huge cairns. Also, a horse with shoes had recently left imprints in the dirt so that helped with knowing which way the trail led. Otherwise, the trail had gone from being very clear last spring to almost invisible in some places now.
We were able to basically stay on the trail. ... basically.

Following the Lee Canyon Trail

Three Lovely Ladies
 We reached the large conglomerate wall on the right side of the canyon at around 2 miles in. Here, we took our snack break in the shade. The hike back up the trail would be a bit more difficult so we threw on the packs and started back. The trail was easier to read going back up and when we reached the up & around trail, we each took on the hill at our own pace. We all waited in the shade on the other side for the last hikers to arrive.

The Car in the Wash - Or, the Wash in the Car
 The ascent back up to Champion Road would be done in the Lee Canyon wash. Not far up, we passed another old car in the wash that is full of wash debris.

Conglomerate Pinnacle

Reaching the Road/Wash Junction
 The wash has another set of wider narrows on up. A few stops were made to wait for slower hikers but the surroundings were pleasant and there was only one small dark cloud in the sky. Finally, we reached the junction with Champion Road, a dirt road leading to several primitive campsites in the area. This is where the 4 & 7 milers parted ways. The 4 milers turned right to climb the hill back to the cars. The 7 milers turned left to trek up Champion Road in the other direction.

Hiking Up Champion Road
 As we hiked and joked along Champion Road, we came upon a man and his dog. And, what a dog! A Russian Sheep Dog named Nikolai! Humongous! And, such a puppy disposition!

Trail Between Champion Road and Lee Canyon Wash
 Our pace had sped up a little from a leisurely to moderate speed. We still made several stops but we were very aware of the fact that that small dark cloud had quickly turned into a large dark sky.

Dropping into Lee Canyon Wash on Small Trail

Enjoying the Easy Packed Wash
 We reached Deer Creek Road, hiked down along the road behind the guard rail, and dropped down on the little trail that led to the wash at the bottom. This was the easiest part of the hike this morning. The wash gravel was hard packed and we skated down it at a good clip. The dark clouds never quite floated over us directly but we did hear one thunder clap. When we reached Champion Road again, at the same place where we reached it the first time, we turned to our left and climbed back up to our cars. Nice morning.

4 miles; 700 feet elevation gain; 3 hours
7 miles; 1100 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Just Imagine the Jokes

A Thoroughly Washed Wash

Climbing the Road back to the Cars

No comments: