Sunday, February 19, 2017

Escarpment Base Abbreviated (Flooded Pine Creek) - 2/19/17

Pine Creek at Fire Ecology Trail

Juniper Creek on Knoll Trail

Morning from Trailhead

Hiking toward Escarpment
 We've had a lot of rain lately. In fact, just yesterday, the scenic loop had to be closed due to flooding over the road. There have been previous reports of treacherous crossings of Pine Creek and various waterfalls coming off of the escarpment. Sounded like a lot of fun to twelve hikers this morning. The intended hike was the Escarpment Base Trail Extended from the Scenic Loop exit to Lost Creek TH and back. A 13 miler. We battled thick fog on the drive to the trailhead then were duly impressed with a gorgeous cloudy sunrise with a small rainbow. By the time we hit the trail, the skies were clearing temporarily before the next storm system rolled in.

Calico Hills in Distance
 We made a wrong choice of trails in the beginning but corrected it via bushwhacking. Must remember to take the furthest trail to the right.

Juniper Creek on Arnight Trail
 After taking a short break at the Oak Creek TH, we hiked out Arnight Trail and came to our first creek crossing. Juniper Creek was flowing pretty strong! A first for all of us! We crossed where we could find a place and continued.

Peering into Juniper Canyon

Turning the Corner into Pine Creek Canyon
 We looked up into the dark shadows of Juniper Canyon as we passed. There was snow and ice coming down from Gunsight Notch. When we rounded the corner to go down the hill into Pine Creek Canyon, we could immediately  hear the rushing water of Pine Creek. (OMG! It was loud! Houston, I think we might have a problem!) We got to the crossing and, well, there was just no way. So, we hiked up the creek a short way to see if the bigger rocks would allow a crossing. Nope. So, we hiked downstream on a game trail. Nope. So, we hiked back up the hill to find our trail.

Rushing Water of Pine Creek from Top of Hill
 A decision was made to aim for 13 miles no matter how it was accomplished. So, we hiked back to the turnoff for the trail to the Fire Ecology area. Perhaps we could cross there.

Pine Creek at Intended Crossing
 We could see the flooded creek from the top of the hill on this trail and decided to continue down the top of the ridge for a short distance.

Along a Game Trail Downstream

Taking short Route back up to Trail
 We came to a cairned trail down the hill and we went for it. At the bottom, we quickly hiked over to the creek to see if there was a crossing here. Nope. We hiked downstream. Nope. (See the first photo.) Okay. So, the group, as a whole, were not very interested in removing shoes & socks nor taking a half hour to build a bridge with rocks. Any attempt at crossing the water would definitely submerge shoes, waterproof or not. We were already at 4.5 miles by now with all of our wandering so another decision was made to take a break and begin winding our way back to the trailhead using the unscheduled and longer route of the Knoll Trail.

Hiking along Ridge above Pine Creek
 After our break, we found another trail that took us up the steep hill again. From there, we followed the edge of the ridge back to the trail that we had used to get there.

Descending on Steep Trail
 We connected with the Arnight Trail and followed it to the junction with the Knoll Trail. Here, we turned to the right at the sign. This trail had recently been maintained and it was easy to follow all the way over toward Potato Knoll.

Manzanitas Blooming

Group Break at 4.7 miles
 At the next signed junction, we turned to the left to take the Oak Creek Trail down to the Oak Creek Trailhead. Clouds were covering the sky again and the wind was getting a little cooler. At this trailhead, we turned to the right and followed our initial trail back to the cars. We didn't make it to 13 miles but the group didn't seem to mind a gorgeous, never to be repeated in scenery, 8 miles at the Red Rock Canyon NCA.

8 miles; 1000 feet elevation gain; 4.5 hours

Returning to Arnight Trail

Hiking Knoll Trail

Taking Oak Creek Trail on Return

1 comment:

Las Vegas Cockapoo said...

You done good!
Hey Kay, Great photos and blog for today! Wanted you to know I didn't have any better luck after that hike trying to cross Oak Creek. I was back there for hours, and no way Jose! Then, since I'm in charge of trail maintenance at First Creek tomorrow, I checked to see the water level there. No way am I going to get all us old people with tools across that river! So like you, I'll improvise!
Susan Murphy