Thursday, February 9, 2017

Cave Canyon / 2nd Finger / Fossil Ridge - 2/9/17

View out of Cave Canyon

View from end of Second Finger

A View on Fossil Ridge

Starting into Cave Canyon
 Today's hike at Red Rock Canyon NCA was located on the North Blue Diamond Hills utilizing a rarely used trail down and back up the Second Finger which is a ridge that lies between Cave Canyon and Echo Canyon. Eleven hikers started out at the Cowboy Trails parking area and headed up the hill toward the upper horse corral where there were already a few horses getting ready for a trail ride. We hiked past them and dropped down behind the picnic tables. Following the trail into the canyons beyond, we could see Echo Canyon on the right of a large fork and Cave Canyon on the left.

3rd Class Dry Fall
 Cave Canyon's entrance gaped large with huge boulders but we climbed up the trail on the right side of the canyon. After a short rest at the graffiti cave, we climbed up the wash a little further to meet the 3rd class dry fall in the photo above.

Dry Fall from Top
 The rock pile at the bottom of the dry fall serves to get hikers up to a level where they can begin climbing up the rock on built in steps. But the hand holds have a little to be desired. One by one, we carefully placed our hands and feet on the rock.

Hiking Cave Canyon

Interesting Seabed Fossil
 The eleven hikers made good time getting up the dry fall and we continued up the narrow canyon. Just after passing the entrance to the most accessible cave of the canyon, we started seeing fossils in the rock underfoot. Fossils were found throughout the hike and every once in a while they deserved a photo. It was in this area that one of the hikers re-injured her knee. Going back down the dry fall is not an option so we slowed down considerably and helped her as much as we could. She said it might feel better once we stopped scrambling so much.

Walking the Ledge
 We zigzagged through the canyon. Sometimes hikers chose the scrambles and sometimes hikers chose the trail. It was a beautiful day! It was here that we also passed two club members, Ed & Luba, having a great day exploring possibilities on the walls of the canyon.

Helping out at an Obstacle
 Finally at the fork of the main canyon, we veered into the right fork. A little more scrambling and we intersected the SARS Trail and turned right. Very quickly, we found the 2nd Finger Trail veering again to the right.

Nearing Top of Cave Canyon Right Fork

Hiking out 2nd Finger
 This is a good trail, very clear all the way down to the tip of the ridge. To our right, Cave Canyon dropped precipitously down the cliffs. The snow covered Spring Mountains poked their peaks up over the top of the Red Rock escarpment. We hiked down alongside the canyon for about a mile until the trail curved around at the bottom and we could no longer descend. We could see the upper horse corral that we had passed at the beginning of the hike in the near distance below.

Calico Hills & Boneshaker Hill from 2nd Finger
 We sat here for a break and enjoyed the views of the Calico Hills and escarpment across Highway 159. To our right we saw Boneshaker Hill and its "Mini Muffins."

Climbing up 2nd Finger
 After the break, we were met with the one mile climb back up the finger ridge. We hiked up along the other side next to Echo Canyon.

Griffith Peak from the North Blue Diamond Hills

Starting down Fossil Ridge
 At the top, we intersected with the SARS Trail again and turned to the right. We passed the 1st Finger Trail junction then continued out to the old mining road. Here, we turned to the right again and hiked down to the Echo Canyon junction. By not bushwhacking down to the Echo Canyon Trail, we added another 0.4 miles to the total hike distance. But, again, we were nursing a bad knee that seemed to be getting worse as the hike progressed.

Fossil Ridge Trail above Echo Canyon
 We turned to go down the Echo Canyon Trail then made a decision to stay on the trail when we had planned to descend through Echo Canyon. There were no complaints!

Rainbow Peak from Fossil Ridge
 The Fossil Ridge Trail would be easier on the bad knee than the scramble down through the canyon. At this point, we were following another small group of hikers going the same way.

Added Horse Steps on Fossil Ridge

Fossil Ridge
 The Fossil Ridge Trail is a beautiful trail with many photogenic views. It travels along the other side of Echo Canyon high above its floor. We continued down the trail staying next to the canyon and tried our voices at the echos on the canyon walls. The bad knee was pretty bad at this point so we had slowed down quite a bit. Finally, we hiked back into the parking lot. It's so nice to have our great weather back!

7.5 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

More Seabed Fossils

Descending Fossil Ridge

Passing Upper Horse Corral

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