Friday, October 27, 2017

Hollow Rock Peak - 10/26/17

Hollow Rock Peak

Valley from Hollow Rock Peak

Multi-color Sandstone

Beginning Heartbreak Hill
Hollow Rock Peak is the second to last peak on the south end of the Red Rock Canyon NCA escarpment. It sits between Windy Peak to the north and South Peak to the south. (South Peak is not officially part of the escarpment since there is a separation of the sandstone here.) Hollow Rock Peak is located at the end of a rocky sandstone bench and holds a large knobby boulder at its apex above Cottonwood Valley. The boulder, itself, is approximately 20 to 30 feet in diameter. Although it can be climbed, the difficult part is getting down from it above the cliffs. Today, none of the seven plus two hikers tried the risky endeavor as we sat below the big boulder for our break.

Starting out Hollow Rock Peak Trail
Arriving at the trailhead, we had seven hikers but we noticed a familiar car parked there and found two more club members on up the trail.

Hiking Hollow Rock Peak Trail
We climbed Heartbreak Hill at our own speed and regathered at the saddle. This climb is always a good workout for the heart, lungs and legs.

Windy Peak from Trail

Pause for Meeting and Greeting
After a brief respite on the saddle, we turned to our right to continue climbing along the ridge that leads out to the peak. Most of the trail out the bench is cairned right now and is only vague in a couple of spots. As Mike OC put it, if your shadow is behind you, then you are going in the right direction! Well, actually, don't take that too literally! The bench heads in a southeast direction then, once on the sandstone, the bench curves direct east. Anyway, we caught up with the other two club members who were out for a simple "scramble-less" hike on the escarpment and enjoyed a short conversation while we subversively searched for the trail.

Following Vague Trail
Once spied, the trail continued around the small peak in front of us even though all the small peaks along the bench can be climbed over if preferred.

Arriving at the Sandstone
There is a lot of descent going out the bench. This is why we usually do this peak as a loop. The return along the bench is a bear!

Hollow Rock Peak from start of Sandstone

Sandstone Route
The last intermittent peak is circumvented on one of two trails to the left. The first trail that forks to the left is ... well ... more interesting as it hangs on slippery
footing above a cliff. The second trail forking off to the left is the better trail to take, as we learned. After rejoining the ridge, we reached the sandstone line as it melds into the limestone. Passing the return trail that heads down toward Highway 160, we circumvented one more small peak to arrive at a campsite that has always been there. ... Yep, forever! Now, we hiked out into the yellow, purple and cream colored sandstone.

Slab Descent
There is one more campsite here that the campers have bolstered with a rock wall. Somehow, we just still didn't think that this was enough to guarantee that a spark from a campfire would not escape to the dry brush on a windy evening.

First Dip
The route leads hikers along the ridge line for a few minutes. Cliffs dropped on the both sides.

Peak Climb

Potosi from Peak
For some time now, Windy Peak has been in our face to the left. We searched and searched for bighorn sheep in the cliffs on either side. They are known to live in this area. But, we didn't see any of them today. We did, however, follow their clear hoof prints all the way back to the cars on the forest road later. (There was even one tiny set of prints from a lamb.) At any rate, our route followed the tip of the ridge until big boulders blocked our path. The route, then, drops down to the right side scrambling over to the first of two steep drops.

Windy Peak and Calico Hills from Peak
The first drop is a white sandstone slab that is easily navigated. Then a climb up the other side ensues.

Break on Peak
Next, there is another steep drop. This drop can be done by either scrambling on the left side around or by dropping down through loose stones within the manzanitas.

South Peak from Hollow Rock Peak

Slab Ascent
Either way, another steep sandstone climb is required afterward. At the crest of the second climb, the peak is clearly seen and the scramble out is completed at the base of that large boulder. The views from the end of the bench encompass a wide variety of southern Red Rock Canyon NCA points of interest. Past the hulking sandstone of Windy Peak, the colorful Calico Hills could be seen. See 4th photo up. There was a little bit of haze over Las Vegas but, otherwise, the sky was blue and it was a nice temperature. After the break, we started back over the sandstone maze the way we came.

Scramble across Ridge
Liz, who was one of the newbies today, declared that this hike is officially not scary. (Just try to avoid that lower trail on the way out the bench!) We scrambled back over to that saddle where the trail turns down toward the highway. (... taking the higher trail going back!)

Trail parallel to Wash
Starting the descent, this trail was vague but easy to follow until we crossed the first wash. Here, the trail seems to disappear and pick up further down the hill. At any rate, we continued our traverse descent somewhat paralleling the large sandstone wash to our left and finally connected with the trail below.

Trail to Abandoned Road

Top of Abandoned Road
The second wash crossing put us on a much clearer trail that led to the end of an abandoned dirt road. There is a nice overlook of the large wash here. On a gentle descent, we followed the road switchback down to the forest road and turned right. After about a mile on an undulating dirt road, we hiked into the trailhead parking lot. Always a great hike! And, always fun to have a couple of newbies along!

5 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Wash Overlook

Road Down

Road to Cars

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