Saturday, January 7, 2017

Colorful Canyon - 1/7/17

Colorful Canyon Wash

Gypsum Wash

North Bowl from Overlook Trail

Summit Trail
 Rain, snow, sleet or hail! AtBF is on the trail! Yep, we had all of that this morning except the hail part. It was cold out in the desert near Lake Mead as seventeen hikers started at the Northshore Road mile marker 20.2 trailhead turnout in thirty-seven degree temperatures. By the end of the hike, the temperature had only risen by about six degrees. We all had our knit hats on and about three layers of clothes. With some brisk hiking to start out, we were warmed up quickly.

Views from Summit Trail
 Colorful Canyon is located to the east of the North Bowl of Fire. And, the hike begins on the same overlook trail from the highway.

Colorful Canyon from Top of Small Wash
 When we got to the bottom of the hill where the trail dips down into a small wash, we could see Colorful Canyon peeping over the ridges in the distance.

Small Wash

Fencing Down
 The small wash led to the junction of a bigger wash where we turned to the left. This wash led us to the junction with Callville Road and we turned to the right. If you wish, a high clearance vehicle could make the trip this far from the mile marker 16 (Anniversary Mine). But then, you would miss the absolutely gorgeous views afforded from the overlook. Even on this cloudy cold day, the views danced in front of our eyes. We began hiking out the road.

Entering Callville Road
 Finally, we reached the fossilized camel and bird tracks on the right side of the road. We took our photos and continued.

Fossilized Tracks
 Next, we came to a fork in the wash. The left fork is very colorful but we took the right fork where there was very interesting geology.

Little Slot

 We filed through a small slot and climbed out then passed through another area where the layers have designed an interesting dry fall. The wash continued and we found ourselves in an area of conglomerate rock. Another dry fall took us up to where there were several red barrel cacti up on the hill to the right. Here, there is a small trail that leads out of the wash. This is a good place to start the next section of the hike that leads across the desert and dips through several washes.

Conglomerate Falls
 We found an old tortoise shell. We could tell it was male due to the forked shell at the neck area. Inside, the neck bone was still there.

Male Tortoise Shell with Neck Bone
 The route undulated through several arroyos. We just tried to pick the most shallow places. Finally, we saw a clutch of colorful sandstone to the left where we could go down into the next wash.

Crossing Land

Anybody in there?
 Up the other side of this, we got a good view of Colorful Canyon in front of us. There is a fun slope to descend on from there into the canyon. Colorful sandstone was all about in the wash and on the hillside. About half of the group stayed in the wash area to take their break. The other half ascended to the rimrock above where they found an arch. After our breaks, the rimrock hikers continued down the ridge and the washers started down the wash. We met up with each other just a little further down the wash.

Colorful Canyon from Above
 There was a bit of a wait here since the ridge walkers had separated into two groups themselves.

Dropping into Colorful Canyon
 Finally together again, we continued hiking down the wash. First, the geology changed to a lot of conglomerate rock. This rock was made up of very large pebbles inside cemented sand.

Colorful Canyon Wash

Group at Colorful Canyon
 After this, we started through a beautiful long section of gypsum. The walls appeared to have been gilded with silver and gold. Next, the wash opened out. We reached a junction in the wash that seemed to go either right or left. The main wash goes left but we turned to the right and exited through a smaller wash. Eventually, this put us up on the desert again where we began our traipse straight in the direction of a hill in the distance.

Climbing to the Rimrock
 At one point, we could see a white marker sticking up and we headed toward it. When we reached it, we realized it was a boundary marker. We were then crossing from BLM Land to the Lake Mead NRA.

Or, Staying Below
 A little further and we crossed an old two track road. It was probably used back when this area was mined.

Arch at Rimrock

Colorful Canyon
 Our trek continued by passing at the base of that hill that we headed toward. Approaching one last wash, we flushed an owl out of the brush. It was quite a surprise! Then ... well, here's where things got a little crazy ... ahem ... fun. We dipped into the wash at hand and started up thinking that it was where we were supposed to be. We learned soon enough that we should have gone over to one more wash where there were nicer dry falls to play on. But, anyway, I digress.

Gypsum Wash
 When our wash began to run out, we started into the direction of the trail where we wanted to junction. (It was a straight line!) But, the "straight line" had to keep detouring to the left.

Exiting Gypsum Wash
 We ended up on the ridge above the washes and decided to just go with it. Instead of continuing to climb, many of us chose wisely to traverse the side of the hill.

Exit Junction

Crossing back into Lake Mead NRA Boundary
 Up until this point, the line of seventeen had strongly kept up the pace. But, now, it seems that a few of the hikers hesitated with the unusual route. Nevertheless, with GPS's all saying the same thing, we were confident that the trailhead was just over the hill. However, the tail end of the line was getting pretty far back. So, while the front hikers headed on down to the cars, we swept up the back of the line as best we could and we all arrived at the trailhead one after another. There were smiles everywhere! What fun it was to just bushwhack for once! Yep, another Kay hike!

8 miles; 1200 feet elevation gain; 4.25 hours

Crossing very old Road


Dropping back to Trailhead

Blue Route = Today

Blue Route = Today

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