Sunday, December 27, 2015

Southern Calico Scramble - 12/27/15

Northern View on Top of Southern Calico Hills

Small Frozen Tank in Wash

Angel Pass seen from Approach

Climbing Up to the Pass
 There are many routes that crisscross the Calico Hills in many directions. The most popular route, by far, would be the Angel Pass route (aka Guardian Angel Pass or Red Springs Pass). Another interesting and not too difficult route is south of there utilizing what some have called the Wave Wash. The Southern Calico Hills Scramble starts from the Red Spring Park in Calico Basin, goes up and over Angel Pass, hikes down the wash, then climbs up through the Wave Wash and down the Grand Staircase. In between all of that are some interesting scrambles that result in a short but sweet workout at the Red Rock Canyon NCA.

Large Tree on Way Up to Pass
 Nine hikers showed up and we began our hike on the approach trail that circles around the base of the east side of the Calico Hills. We saw Angel Pass ahead.

View Back toward City
 We arrived at the Angel Pass route ready to climb. There are many trails that hikers have forged in this canyon. Any trail works ... almost! We know to stay more on the left side of the canyon than on the right. There are a couple of spots that require a left side trail.

Arriving at Pass Summit

Las Vegas from Pass Summit
 We climbed without a need for speed. But, the group stayed together without effort. At the pass summit, we found the skyline view in the photo to the right near the southern wall. After a short breather, we started our descent down the other side. We could see the Red Rock Scenic Loop from our "crow's nest." We had begun seeing blood droplets on the rocks about half way up the ascent. On the top of the pass, there was blood spray and we thought we had found the origination of the injury. But, ..., no, the blood drops continued as we followed his/her trail down. It wouldn't be worth mentioning except that we were pretty incredulous that this person had not stopped the bleeding at any point.

Angel Carving in the Shade
 The blood trail went all the way down past the Guardian Angel Carving as seen in the shadows above. We arrived at the pooled wash on the left and found all the tanks to be frozen.

Frozen Tank in Wash at Bottom of Pass
 We took a snack break on top of the rocks here where we began realizing that the cold air of the early morning had warmed up by the sun's rays. We were very comfortable in the cold temperatures that were probably in the upper 30's by now. That's what a little energy output will do for you!

Hiking Along the Wash

Climbing Up to the Old Grand Circle Route
 After the break, we dropped down off of the rocks in the usual way and started down the gravel wash ... following the blood droplets. We noted that there was fresh burro evidence within this walled area. So, this must be where the burros spent last night when the wind was blowing between 20 and 50 mph. We hiked down the wash and took the cut up to the old Grand Circle Trail route on the intermediate hill. (This is where we lost the blood trail.) This trail took us over and down to a place where we could drop down into the wash again just under the Calico I Overlook. In the wash, we noted that the tank of water beneath the overlook was also frozen.

Dropping Down to the Wash below Calico I
 We hiked down the wash taking in a couple of small scrambles then found the dark slot as seen in a photo below. There were a few kids in the slot who seemed more interested in the graffiti than the great scramble at the end.

Mike Follows along Wash
 So, some of us tried our hand (and the other hand and both feet) at scrambling up the rocks on the left side of the slot. This is our regular challenge here. We can attest to the fact that it is still doable.

The Dark Slot

Jon Tries Out the Rabbit Hole at end of Slot
 The other hikers noted that there is a rabbit hole on the right side of this obstacle. Well, what do you know? Yep. It works. We had to take off our packs to get through it but it certainly is easier than the big scramble option. Still, it was fun to test our abilities on the left. From here, the route goes up and a little bit down to a wash on the left. Up the wash, we went climbing the sandstone. After the first stage of this climb, we came to the wave formation as seen in the photo below. We climbed through the partial tunnel and continued straight up through a tight wash with a lot of small challenges.

Wave Formation
 The first chance that you have to turn right after the obstacle seen in the photo below is where we turned. It is possible to continue straight here but a right turn works as well.

Climbing Up above the Wave
 After crossing over, we took a left to continue up to the plateau above. The left turn is seen in the photo below. A couple more obstacles and we were at a wide area on top of the Calico Hills. We climbed up to a higher point on our right then found the start of the Grand Staircase on the Red Springs side of the hill.

The Left Turn from Crossover Route

Northeast View from Top of Southern Calico Hills
 We followed the options of trails closely by choosing paths that looked the easiest. This is a very steep descent which is, for the most part, not dangerous. We just watched our footing and took care of our knees staying as close to the wall on the right as possible. Nearing the bottom, we found the large square boulder landmark beckoning us. Finally at the boulder, we connected with a trail that took us quickly down to Red Spring Park. Fun morning! Good scramble.

3.5 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Starting Down the Grand Staircase

Almost Down the Grand Staircase

The Big Boulder at the Bottom

No comments: