Monday, April 24, 2017

Escarpment Base Trail Extended O&B - 4/24/17

Relaxing at the Wilson Homestead

When Alice Algae met Freddy Fungus, they took a Lichen to each other!

Narrowleaf Goldenbush lined SMYC Trail

Colorado Four O'Clock (purple)
 We were five happy hikers today. It was an absolutely beautiful day at Red Rock Canyon NCA. So many flowers were blooming and the temperature was optimal. Enough wind was blowing to keep the sun at bay. We started at the Scenic Loop exit parking lot. There are 3 or 4 trails that lead out from the other side of the loop. We took the furthest one to the right. This trail is a direct route for 1 mile over to the Oak Creek Trailhead off of the Scenic Loop.

Juniper Wash to Canyon
 At the Oak Creek Trailhead, we stopped for a restroom break then continued out the Arnight Trail on the other side of the parking lot.

Turtlehead seen across the Desert
 The Arnight Trail is very rocky and we tip-toed our way along. By this time, we were very aware of a huge number of blooming flowers in the desert.

Mallard Duck in Pine Creek

View Back toward Mescalito Peak
 Our pace was pleasant and we stopped for photos of the flowers whenever we wanted. After crossing the desert, we started dropping down the high embankment of Pine Creek. Last time the writer was here, the creek was flowing so strongly that we couldn't get across. Today was quite different. The water flow was back to normal. As we stepped across on the rocks, we looked downstream and saw a Mallard Duck swimming in the pooled water.

Skull Rock Garden
 The old Wilson Homestead was next and, there, we stopped for a short break.

Hedgehog Cactus
 We hiked on up the Pine Creek Trail and turned left on Dale's Trail. Here, the flowers really made things colorful!
Mariposa Lilies Everywhere!

Heading toward the La Madre Mountain Range
 As we passed Skull Rock, a raven sat atop the redstone. "Nevermore," could be heard faintly in the wind. The flower that amazed us throughout the hike was the Mariposa Lilies. This delicate white and purple flower grows on a thin vine and uses whatever plant is nearby to support it. These flowers were growing on almost every bush at times. There were also several hedgehog cacti in bloom. Their red/purple flowers stood out in the landscape.

Following David on Dale's Trail
 After passing the old park bench that is placed in the red dirt section of Dale's Trail, we came to the Ice Box Canyon wash.

Water still Pooled in Ice Box Wash
 A large pool of water lay just upstream of our crossing. Tammy found a frog who really just wished we would go away!

SMYC Trail (Never Eat Soggy Waffles.) Heading NW

The Garden that is the SMYC Trail
 Next came the SMYC Trail, one of the most garden-like trails (along with Dale's Trail) in Red Rock Canyon. Narrowleaf Goldenbush was blooming in full glory all along the beautiful trail. The one mile section took a while since we were all photographing to our hearts' content. Finally, we waltzed into the Lost Creek Trailhead area where there was a bus load of kids beginning to move out. 6.5 miles down and the same to go. We sat on the nearby rocks for our snack break.

Turnaround Point at Lost Creek TH
 We took our time then felt rested enough to start the return trip. It was immediately clear that the trip back would be at a much faster pace.

Garden on Dale's Trail
 We didn't stop for photos much on the way back but every so often we would stop to breathe!

Gathering at the Bench

Majestic View of the Escarpment
 We regrouped soon enough if one or two hikers got too far ahead. Thirteen miles is a long time for five hikers to hike in lockstep but we did pretty good. As usual, the last two miles are the hardest. Arnight Trail's rocks always propose a challenge to tired legs and ... well ... the last mile is ... the last mile. Still happy, the five hikers enjoyed the day immensely.

13 miles; 1900 feet elevation gain; 6.75 hours

Starting the Steep Descent before Skull Rock

Just Because

The Cars!

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