Saturday, November 5, 2016

Angel Pass / 5 Stop Hill Loop - 11/5/16

Grand Circle Trail

Guardian Angel Carving

Scrambling on the Sandstone

Calico Basin
It was a Red Rockin' mornin' for sixteen hikers in Red Rock Canyon NCA! We parked at an already busy Sandstone Drive dirt parking lot and started out the end of the road. Soon, we were climbing up onto a trail turning left to go toward the Red Springs / Angel Pass area. We funneled into the small canyon and began our climb up the steep rocks. There are several routes that are indicated in the rocks but, truth be told, any of them are going to take you to the pass. A good rule of thumb here is to just go up! A few of us took the lead and got a really good workout on the first morning scramble.

Starting Up to Angel Pass
 We passed quite a few recreational hikers milling about. The looks we get from younger folks is always entertaining.

View Back to Calico Basin
 When we looked back from our climb, we realized the quickness of our elevation gain.

Steep Climb up to Pass

Tricky Spot
 The morning was beautiful. Blue sky. Warm temperatures with a nice cool breeze once in a while. Can you believe it's November? Anyway, we climbed the hill ... some of us, for the first time this season. All the rocks were still in the same place! When the first small group reached the pass summit, we were rewarded with a nice five minute break while the back group came on up. Apparently, some of those younger folks had gummed up the works in front of the trailing group! We let them breathe for a minute then down we went on the other side of the pass. Once again, the trails all led down to the same place. However, on the way down, some trails are easier than others. Doyle helped us choose the good trails and the line of sixteen were spread all the way up and down the hill. Eventually, we reached the carving on the side of a large boulder. Someone, ... no one knows who or when ..., carved a St. Christopher (I think. I'm not Catholic) here.

View Toward White Rock Hills from Angel Pass
 When everyone reached the bottom of the hill, we hiked past the route up to the Calico Tanks and connected with the wash that flows alongside the Calico Hills.

Scrambling Down off the Pass
 We had finished scrambling momentarily. A little further up the wash, we junctioned with the Grand Circle Trail on the left side.

Navigating the Red Rocks

Into Calico Wash
 This section of the Grand Circle Trail (between Calico II and Sandstone Quarry) is very colorful with red and white sandstone. The mojave yuccas and scrub oak add green. We followed the trail at a decent pace enjoying the scenery. The petroglyph rock in this area is slowly deteriorating. Why must young folks add their ugly name to the interesting carvings? Maybe they think they are more important than anything that has survived for hundreds of years. (Soap box.)

Grand Circle Trail
 We hiked on around the trail until we reached the bustling Sandstone Quarry parking lot. Here, we took a short break.

Nearing Sandstone Quarry on Grand Circle Trail
 Next, we hiked down the trail and found a brand new trail sign erected at the quarry. Finally! A sign that gives some indication as to which direction to go! Tourists need this.

New Sign!!!

Turtlehead above Rattlesnake Trail
 We used the wash to connect with the trail further out. Once on the trail, we turned to the left onto Rattlesnake Trail and began following the winding trail through the maze of sandstone. A quick look into the small white slot showed us that there was still water being held in the many tanks within. The group went around the slot and scrambled up the hill where we stopped for our snack break on the shelves in the shade. A few of the hikers took that time to do a little exploring and practice scrambles.

Scrambling on the White Sandstone
 We hiked on around on the Rattlesnake Trail which took us by the top of Ash Canyon and down to Gateway Canyon. Here, we turned to the right.

Snack Break in the Shade
 A few of us explored the game trails up the hill to the right while the rest of the group continued down Gateway until they reached the trail that turns to the right and goes up to the Krafft saddle.

View to Ash Canyon Overlook from Rattlesnake Trail

Gray Cap above Rattlesnake Trail
 While four hikers got hung up on the hill, the rest of the group made it first to the saddle. Upon these four catching up to the group, all the hikers started down 5 Stop Hill. The pace quickened as everyone used up all of their remaining energy. The parking lot was only half full when we got back but the rest of Calico Basin was in full swing. This was a very good workout and some of Red Rock's best scenery.

6 miles; 1400 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Dropping into Gateway Canyon on Rattlesnake Trail

Krafft Saddle

5 Stop Hill Descent

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