Monday, October 16, 2017

Angel Carving Loop - 10/16/17

The Calico Hills Angel Carving

Calico Hills & La Madre Range

Calico Hills Wash

Lower Grand Circle Trail
 No one seems to know the real story behind the carving of St. Christopher (?) on the big block of sandstone in the Angel Pass canyon. We can surmise that it was engraved there to look over and protect ... who ... rock climbers and hikers? .... Anyway, it is very well done and we have no qualms about it being there. There, being, in a narrow section of the scramble worthy canyon where it is difficult to miss. (Even though we were concerned that we would miss it today!) This was our first time at trying to access the carving from the bottom since it is usually viewed on the way down from Angel Pass. Ten hikers, friends, showed up for the adventure.

A Pause with a View
 We parked on the bottom tier of the Red Rock Visitor Center parking lot. The morning was a little cool but we warmed up very quickly.

Southern end of Calico Hills
 We started down the Grand Circle Trail toward the fee booth, crossed the road and found the trail in its usual place.

New Stuff at Calico I

Following Grand Circle Trail to Calico II
 Red Rock has gone through some wonderful changes this last year. The scenic loop has been repaved and there are new parking lots at Calico I, Sandstone Quarry and Pine Creek. Is Ice Box Canyon redone, too? It was nice to have our trail back that leads from the fee booth to Calico I since it had been closed during the long construction. Upon reaching Calico I, we tried out the brand new restrooms, read the new info signs and admired the new cedar fencing that runs along the descent to the sandstone. Together again, we made our descent and turned left staying on the trail that runs closest to the scenic loop above us.

Sandstone Trail
 The group enjoyed their own pace and paused here and there to regather. Most of us knew our way around here until we reached Calico II.

Heading into the Wash below Calico II
 So, we dropped down to take the route that runs through the crack in the rocks in the gravel wash. Next, we came to the mouth of the Angel Pass canyon.

Turning up toward Angel Pass

Scrambling near Angel Carving
 A right turn into the canyon started an immediate scramble. It was light scrambling but it was scrambling! We wound our way through the rocks and the sand then started up the canyon. There wasn't a lot of elevation gain between here and the carving but the sinuous route had us going every which way! Yes, everything looks different when you go in the opposite direction than what you are used to. With a couple of veterans in our midst, we managed to find the carving much to the delight of the several newbies on the hike. We sat at the block of rock for our break.

And ... Action!
 After the break, we scrambled back down to a fun climb up onto snack rock. (Right after we encouraged the lizard to get out of our way!)

Climbing up to Snack Rock
 There was another scramble back down the other side then we started down the gravel wash and began following large cairns made with fencing and filled with rocks.

View from Snack Rock

Dropping back to Wash Trail
 Was it Susan again? Someone has worked on this trail that now seems to have become "official." After we hiked along the sandstone slab and worked up through a small crack, we found ourselves staring at some really nice steps! (See photo below.) We continued up to the ridge and, at the other end, we found the trail down to be much improved. Yes, it is still steep but the rocks have been swept away and the footing is so much safer. Next, we climbed back up to the new Calico I turnout for a short restroom break. Regathered, we crossed the scenic loop and expected to see the old tried and true trail that leads over to the Moenkopi hill. Hmmm. We knew it was here somewhere. ...

Cairned Wash Trail
 The crosswalk was there but, on the other side of the road, there was a whole bunch of graded dirt from the construction. We couldn't even see where the trail might be further out.

 So, in authentic AtBF fashion, we bushwhacked! Straight toward the Visitor Center. Ten hikers never did see the trail. (But, it did boost my confidence a little when I checked my GPS tracks at home and saw that we did, in fact, cross the road exactly where the trail was supposed to be.)

New Steps heading up toward Upper Ridge Trail

Reaching Upper Ridge
 Surely, the trail will be re-installed. At any rate, we skipped the Moenkopi hill overlook that we had intended to do, found the trail that crossed our bushwhacking path and returned to the cars on the other end of the Grand Circle Trail. If we had done the overlook hill, the hike would have been 6 miles instead of 5 so it was just as well. We all had a fun relaxing time. It's so great to be back in Red Rock!

5 miles; 800 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Smoothed over Steep Descent


Y for Yucca

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Old Deer Creek Road Route - 10/14/17

Telephone Canyon Cabin

Stepladder Peak

View from Stepladder Trail

Mummy's Toe from Archery Range Road
Before there was the nice new Deer Creek Road highway (SR 158), a much smaller road took drivers from Kyle Canyon to Lee Canyon. This road suffered wash outs, snow drifts and general disrepair on a regular basis. The new road was built on much the same route, however, not taking the same space. Therefore, the old Deer Creek Road still exists, albeit in trail form. We have used much of the old dirt road for our hikes, new and old, but today was the first time that the club has hiked 6.5 miles of the old route at one time. There was an atmosphere of hiking down an historical trail as three ladies pieced together the route.

Dropping to Deer Creek Picnic Area Trailhead
 We began about 2/3 of the way from Kyle Canyon to Lee Canyon on Archery Range Road. (This point to point hike required leaving a car at the Stepladder Trailhead.)

Circling Mahogany Grove Picnic Area
 From the parking lot, we headed south past the traffic gate on part of the old road that is still being used regularly.

Old CCC Oven

CCC Instructions for Well-Rounded Men
When faced with a junction, we took left turns until we were dropping down a ramp that ended across the highway from the Deer Creek Picnic Area parking lot. We crossed the paved road then dropped down at the end of the parking lot behind the info signs. This is the only bushwhacking we did today even though there is somewhat of a trail that circles around the right end of the wash at the bottom of the hill. The rabbitbrush has grown up so much that the trail has been obliterated! We kept wading through the brush until we saw our way clear to the other side of the deep wash and connected with the old road on the other side bounded by a rock wall. Following the old road, we circled around the Mahogany Grove Picnic Area above us passing the old dumped refrigerator and zigging to the left. There are some benches placed on this nature walk trail.

Following Old Road to Hilltop Campground
 The nature walk trail had old CCC ovens displayed and informational signs about the Civilian Conservation Corps that was active during the Great Depression years.

Happy Hikers
 We climbed the hill next to the signs then dropped back into the wash on the other side. This wash used to be part of the old road. Next, the road veered up out of the wash to the right.

Junctioning at Campsite #9

Starting Gypsy Trail
 Continuing straight on the old road, we winded our way up a hill and ended up at Campsite #9 of the Hilltop Campground. This was our high point of the day. Turning right, we followed the pavement to the switchback and continued straight to drop down the hill curving to the left. This put us back on the new Deer Creek Road. Cross the road and turn right to get to the bike trail trailhead on the left. Turning back, stay on the trail closest to the highway. This is the Gypsy Trail, a bike trail with extraordinary views and several impressive bike jumps! The route has begun its descent on a gentle slope.

View down Telephone Canyon
 We took note of the bike jumps. One of them jumps over a large manzanita bush. Wouldn't want to miss!

One of Many Bike Jumps on Old Road
 At the bottom of the hill, we junctioned with the Robbers' Roost Trail. We turned down to the left to cross the pavement once again. This time, we crossed the road and turned right to get to a dirt road on the left.

Old Asphalt

Crossing Highway at Robbers' Roost Trailhead
Up until this point, we had been seeing many remnants of old asphalt along the route. But, here, we chose to deviate from the old road route for better hiking trail conditions. Down this little road, we turned right onto a bike trail marked with a sign post allowing hikers, bikers, etc. It wasn't too far before we passed a cache of old rusted tin cans on the left and the remnants of the Telephone Canyon cabin on the right. This cabin was most likely a structure built for storage at the time that telephone lines were being strung to service the resort cabins up in the Deer Creek area. We stopped here for our break.

Leftover Rusted Tin Cans
 Well into the hike's descent, we continued down the trail (or old road) and were approached from behind by three bikers. We stepped aside to let them pass and they were very friendly.

Telephone Canyon Cabin
 The trail curves obviously to the right off the old road onto a single track trail. They call this trail the Cowboy Washington Trail. Not sure why ....

Bike Trail

Cowboy Washington Trail
At a fork, we veered to the right while the bikers veered left ... the second time. Eventually, the trail rejoined the Old Deer Creek Road, complete with old asphalt. At a saddle junction we veered to the right and left to descend the beautiful Stepladder Trail. Again, we had chosen the better trail over the old road remnants that ran along the edge of the new highway. From the saddle to the trailhead, it is around 1.25 miles. This trail has been used by bikers a lot lately and it is becoming quite torn up underfoot. Nevertheless, the views of lower Kyle Canyon are stunning. We enjoyed our "girls day" and the historic value of the route.

6.5 miles; 500 feet of elevation gain; 2100 feet of elevation loss; 3 hours

Trail Beauty

One more photo, Girls!

Nearing end of Stepladder Trail / Hike