Friday, October 7, 2016

North Fork of Main Fork Pine Creek (aka Coyote Canyon) - 10/07/16

Coyote Canyon View

Back of Mescalito Peak

Water in Pine Creek

Fast Hike from Trailhead to Scramble
 Here's a canyon scramble that had eluded the writer over the last 9 years! The "North Fork of the Main Fork of Pine Creek!" (How's that for a name?) Well, apparently that's what the canyon goes by in the hiker circles of Red Rock. However, today, due to the overwhelming evidence of coyotes in the canyon, for the purpose of this blog, it will be affectionately known as "Coyote Canyon." There's got to be a whole pack of coyotes that live there!

Starting Up the Main Pine Creek Wash
 Eight hikers gathered at the Pine Creek Trailhead off of the Red Rock Canyon NCA Scenic Loop then headed down the Pine Creek Trail at a fast pace.

Colorful Wash Rocks
 Soon, we were dropping down into the wash at the base of Mescalito Peak. A left turn into the wash started us up through the trees, boulders and pools of water.

A Familiar Difficult Scramble

Following the Main Wash
 This is the same beginning that takes hikers to Terrace Canyon. Many of the tough scrambles were very familiar and the scramble legs were warming up. The pace was max for this little group of moderately strenuous hikers. Only the leader seemed to skip along without hesitation and without any groaning. We made our way around a few pools of water but, except for the small waterfall at the slab on the right of the wash, there was no running water per se.

Pool in Main Wash
 There is somewhat of a trail in the main wash since many hikers go to Terrace Canyon every year.

Scramble past the Slab
 Once we got past the slab waterfall, the towering fork rock appeared around the corner. Here is where the Terrace Canyon Trail turns to the left and our route turned to the right.

Target Right Fork in View

Fun on the Rocks
 The turn is not so obvious from below on the rocks. But, before we knew it, we had turned into another wash. This one is steeper than the left fork wash. We began climbing and scrambling still at a quick pace. We were getting quite the workout. We followed the leader at every twist and turn with the exception of one hiker. This hiker looked at every scramble with a second critical stare. Most of the time, he found a more difficult way to get up the scramble in question!

Hmm. What is the most difficult way to do this?
 And, he had plenty of challenges!

 Right, left, left, right. The route made its way around the car size boulders.


Under the Overhang
 The canyon reminded us of a cross between Black Velvet Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon and the route to Terrace Canyon. Cairns marked the suggested go arounds and all the obstacles, although difficult, could be done without help. Some of the rocks underfoot were fraught with design as seen in the photo below. Way ahead of us, the canyon could be seen ending at the rim of the escarpment.
If I could only put one of these rocks in my pack ....
 Both sides of the canyon were steep and interesting. We were basically hiking next to the Mescalito Bench. One hiker mentioned that he had climbed Mescalito using Coyote Canyon as an approach.

Still Scrambling
 When we reached a dry fall / twenty foot wall, the writer was amazed that the leader continued. Yep. There was a way up the wall at the far end. It was a difficult scramble but, finally, at the top of the wall, we stopped for our break of lizards.


The Break at the Top of the Dry Fall
 A tall cairn sat at the edge of the wall and a sandstone slab laid out before us as we sat. It was a beautiful peaceful place. When we finished our break, we started down but not before we inspected the wall for another way down. There is another way up but not really another way down! Anyway, we started down and, this time, we were able to take shorter routes. Gravity, you know. Each landmark obstacle was checked off as we passed them.

Descending from the Dry Fall
 The whole canyon part of the hike had been in the shade and the temperature within the canyon was holding just above 50 degrees.

 We didn't see anyone else back in the canyons all morning.

Red Rock

Gracefully past the Overhang
 We junctioned again with the main wash and continued down. The trail helped us find our way around the pools. As we neared the base of Mescalito Peak, our group separated into two. One group did a bit of exploring since we were not real familiar with the trail network of Pine Creek. We met up with the other group who had come back the way we came. Great hike. Great scramble workout. Fun! Fun!

5.5 miles; 1000 feet elevation gain; 4.75 hours

Around a Pool in the Main Wash

Nearing the End of the Main Wash

Back on Pine Creek Trail

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