Thursday, November 3, 2016

Juniper Canyon - 11/3/16

Juniper Canyon from Pine Creek Trail

Gunsight Notch from Juniper Canyon

Morning at the Wilson House

Crossing the Creek
 This morning, there were two hikes in the same area. The larger team scrambled almost all the way up to Terrace Canyon then took a steep left turn up to Gunsight Notch Peak. The smaller team of seven hikers were taking their break on the other side of that peak in Juniper Canyon. We left from the Pine Creek Trailhead off the scenic loop in Red Rock Canyon NCA. Following the Pine Creek Trail, we took a short stop at the ruins of the Wilson House. From there, we turned to the left to connect with the Arnight Trail.

Arnight Trail
 The Arnight Trail climbs along the side of a ridge that took us out of Pine Creek Canyon. We found ourselves in a garden of chollas prickling in the morning sunshine.

Hiking the Arnight Trail
 Nearing the right turn marked by an obvious cairn onto the Juniper Canyon Trail, we saw movement in the brush to our right. Two small female mule deer watched us watch them for a moment.

Escarpment from Arnight Trail

Small Female Mule Deer
 We almost missed the turn after that enchanting sight! Up the Juniper Canyon Trail, we went resisting the urge to turn left into the wash too early. We climbed the well worn trail staying to the right at every opportunity. Finally, a trail that turned to the left showed the difficult obstacle below that we wanted to avoid and we made our way down into the huge boulders. Right away, we made an unusual turn when we didn't see a cairn. We should have gone to the right and we went to the left. This put us on a route that could not connect to the favored route until several scrambles and bushes ahead. Eventually, we did make it back to the better side of the wash.

Climbing the Juniper Canyon Trail
 Cairns in this wash are very useful. No route really looks obvious. It's all difficult boulder scrambling. In fact, one hiker decided to remain behind so another hiker decided to stay with him. Now, we were five.

Inside Juniper Canyon Wash
 The five of us persevered. In fact, we were having fun with our interesting adventure. Next, the wash narrowed and the dirt trail to the right appeared.

Having Fun!

Climbing the Steep Dirt Trail
 Oh yeah. Forgot the dirt trail forks! We ended on the left fork. Should have gone up the right fork. Anyway, we climbed the very steep trail up and over the canyon hump (when we could've been going around the hump) and eventually made it back to the favored trail. Yep. Still having fun! The next part, is the part that we "explored" last year so we weren't going to make that same mistake. We found the right turn that led to the bottom of the rockfall and up we went. One more steep climb and we made it to the sandstone slab.

Up the Rockfall
 By this time, we had done enough climbing so we didn't go up very far on the slab. Nevertheless, we had a great view in the canyon shadows. We thought we heard our friends up above us but they didn't answer when we called.

Break on the Slab
 Determined to make our return on all the correct trails, we started our descent. Down the rockfall, back on the trail, found the "around" trail, down the favored steep dirt trail and into the boulder wash.

Laurie with a View

Reconnected with the Juniper Canyon Trail
 We passed several rock climbers on their way up to climb one of several walls in the canyon. Rainbow Wall and Brownstone Wall are two impressive routes. We descended the boulders with much more expertise than the ascent then met up with the two hikers that stayed behind. We took the trail that led down to the Fire Ecology Trail for our return and, on the way, we saw two bucks who watched us watch them. A great morning of scrambling!

5.5 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Two Buck Mule Deer

Coming down into Pine Creek Canyon

Pine Creek Wash

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