Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Blue Diamond Canyons 2&3 - 1/18/17

Peering down Blue Diamond Canyon #3

The Narrows of Canyon #2

From the Top of Canyon #3

Negotiating the Rocky Start
  The Blue Diamond Canyons are found across Highway 159 from the small community of Blue Diamond, Nevada within the boundaries of Red Rock Canyon NCA. They are numbered from right to left. Today, nine hikers parked outside the fence of the utility building near the north side of the road and climbed through the barbed wire fence meant to keep the wild burros out. There is a gate there but it was locked with a chain. We hiked up behind the little building then dropped down into the mouth of Canyon #2. This hike has a very rocky start as it routes up through the boulders and catclaws.
The First Dry Fall of Canyon #2
It was a very cold morning that promised to warm up but the canyon stayed in the shadows for a while and we were all questioning our choice of wardrobe!

Hiking past Owl Corner
We climbed up past the first dry fall then wound our way up to the second major dry fall. Standing at the top of this obstacle was one of our hikers who had gotten a head start. Now, we were ten.

The Most Difficult Dry Fall Today

Watching our Steps
This dry fall suffered a flood about six months ago and the sturdy rock pile at the bottom was dislodged. It needs to be rebuilt. Any rock pile architects out there? For now, there are three ropes to help in climbing the wall. A higher rock pile would be preferred. Anyway, we helped each other get up and, afterwards, most of us had warmed up a bit. We continued up between the beautiful canyon walls enjoying dry fall after dry fall. Most of the climbs were a lot like staircases.

Finding Dry Fall after Dry Fall
We talked about the owl(s) that live in these canyons and, not long after, we saw one swooshing above our heads up canyon.

A Fun Little Number
The next major dry fall isn't too bad. We each found our hand and foot holds or helped each other find theirs.

The Last Major Dry Fall

Climbing the Last Major Dry Fall
But, the last major dry fall is a little tricky. Sure, it's probably easier to climb on the left side but if you do the choreography, the right side is a lot of fun! Most of us did this for the challenge. After this, there are a few small step ups then the canyon begins leveling out. We stopped just below the gypsum mine boulders for our break then we climbed the hill to the left. There is a trail at almost the top of the hill. We found it to be washed out but still legible.

Canyon Floor
We followed the trail until we began dropping into the top of Canyon #3. This canyon begins fairly gentle then works its way down to several interesting drops.

View from Top of Hill between Canyons 2 & 3
Only two hikers decided to use a strap to help themselves down the big 12 footer. The rest of us hiked the go around and found it to be very scenic!

Starting the Drops in Canyon #3

Fun Drop after Big Dry Fall
The floods that have ravaged these canyons for the past year have encouraged the vegetation (i.e. catclaws, acacia, and velcro plants) to grow. We could still get around the mean plants but watch out for them. With the exception of that second dry fall (with the ropes), all of the climbs and drops remain fun. We dropped through several more dry falls in Canyon #3 then found the small game trail that led up to the left side onto a "shelf" of sorts. There is a small cairn here. If you squint your eyes, you can see the trail leading all the way back over the terrain to the utility building. When we got back, someone had unlocked and opened the gate wide. Have no idea. Anyway, we left it the way we found it which should have been closed. These canyons never disappoint. A fun morning!

4 miles; 1000 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Canyon Walls tower Above

The Lower Section of Canyon #3

Following the Game Trail across the Bottom

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