Sunday, November 22, 2015

Twilight Ridge Loop - 11/22/15

Rimrock on Intermediary Ridge Saddle

Dennis at Grapevine Springs Cistern

Mt. Charleston from Twilight Zone

Inner Wash
 The Twilight Trailhead is located in the northern acreage of Red Rock Canyon NCA on Kyle Canyon Road approximately 9 miles up from I-95. Several years ago, this parking area was used for horse trail rides. Now, the trails leading out from this point are mainly utilized by biking and equestrian endeavors. Today's hike was a strictly exploratory hike for developing a third route for the club's Twilight repertoire. Six hikers arrived at the trailhead ready for anything!

Twilight Ridge
 We dropped down into the grand Kyle Canyon Wash and followed the Twilight Zone trail up the other side taking the first right turn. The Twilight Zone trail is the shortest route to go from the trailhead parking to the west end of the ridge we began calling Twilight Ridge.

The Explorers
 We passed the Inner Wash that is used on the Lunar Loop hike then two or three more washes before we reached the top of the very wide wash of the Kyle Canyon alluvial fan.

Heading to the West End of Ridge

Trail Junctions with Lucky Strike Road
 We could see our target ridge point so when we had a choice of trails to take, we took the one that seemed most comfortable. There are a few choices at this end of the high ridge in front of us. Finally, we came to the high point of the day where the Lucky Strike high clearance road and the Twilight Zone briefly met. Here, we began our hike on the Twilight Loop that was circling around the ridge on our right side. From here on out, the number of trails to choose from was baffling. However, almost all trails led in the same direction. It was all good.

Twilight Loop above Lucky Strike Road
 The Twilight Loop circled around into Grapevine Canyon and we were still up on the hillside when we got our first view of the springs.

First View of Grapevine Springs with Deer in Road to Right of Red Fence
 The photographer did not realize it until later but her first photo of the springs caught the deer we saw later as it stood at the springs entrance.

Grapevine Springs

Leaving Grapevine Springs
 We made our way down to the springs and marveled at what good condition it was in. There was a strong water flow falling into the water collection cistern. The namesake grapevine was going through its winter loss of foliage and a new fence has been erected to protect the spring's origin. After spending a few minutes here, we crossed back over to the ridge side of Grapevine Canyon and found a very small trail to follow. Again, there were many trails to choose from.

View Back to Springs from Trail
 At the first canyon we came to, we tried to find a trail that led up into the canyon or on the intermediary ridge in front of us. No could do. So, we returned to our original small trail and continued around to the next canyon.

Small Trails Cover the Area at the Back of Twilight Ridge
 Here, we found a small old trail that led up into the canyon. We searched hard for the continuation of the trail leading up onto the intermediary ridge in front of us. All we found was an interesting moenkopi outcropping that we followed almost all the way up onto the ridge's saddle.

Climbing a Layer of Moenkopi Rock to Ridge Saddle

Taking a Break on Ridge Saddle
 With a nice view here, we decided to stop here for our long break. The original plan of climbing all the way up to the top of Twilight Ridge was scrapped. It looked like a tremendous climb that perhaps would not be equivocally rewarding. No problem. We enjoyed exploring the different geology offered on the saddle. After our break, we did not find a trail down the other side but a long descending contour down the steep slope did the trick. Soon, we found ourselves back down near the canyon bottom.

View Down from Where we Came
 Once again searching for a trail ... any trail ..., we stumbled on portions of trails as we circled around the ends of the intermediary ridges.

A Few Interesting Things
 As we hiked, we found a few different things that were interesting to us. One particularly interesting thing appeared to be three petrified tree stumps in the limestone rock.

Lateral Descent from Ridge Saddle

Horse Trail Canyon Rock and Cacti
 The next deviation in our route occurred when we happened upon a comparatively nice small trail that headed into a canyon. Evidenced with horse droppings we followed the trail a short way up the canyon and dropped down into the wash to make our return. It was a nice canyon and deserves more than the cursory exploration that we did today. Finally, we dropped back down near the canyon bottom and found a small obscure route around the last of the ridge foothills.

Finally Down near Canyon Bottom
 This was when we first reconnected with the Twilight Loop trail. Soon afterwards, we forked up to the right on a smaller trail to short cut the corner of the hill.

East End Saddle of Ridge comes into View
 The East end saddle of Twilight Ridge came into view as we circled around the last corner and reconnected with the Twilight Loop for the last time.

East Cut with Bench (?)

More Beautiful Geology
 The Twilight Loop trail was a much more worn trail than what we had been following during our time on the back side of Twilight Ridge. We watched three more deer run from us as we followed the trail up, down and up to the saddle cut where we encountered a makeshift bench as seen in the photo above. Looking back behind us, we saw the first humans of the morning; 2 bikers coming up behind us. We dropped down over the saddle and looked back to our left to see the beautiful geology in the photo to the right.

One of Many Dips on East Cut Wash
 Soon, the trail forked. The right fork is the completion of the Twilight Loop. We took the left fork which is called the East Cut Wash. This trail is full of wash dips and it was quite a workout for the 7th, and 8th mile of the hike.

Finally Dropping Down into Kyle Canyon Wash
 Finally, the trail dropped steeply down into the grand Kyle Canyon Wash. From there, we followed trails on the side of the wash and then a gravel road back to the cars. A fantastic learning experience! Thanks to the 6 explorers for your participation.

9 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 4.75 hours

Using Gravel Road to Return to Cars

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