Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Calico Hills & Moenkopi Hill - 11/12/18

Sandstone Quarry Slot

Grand Circle Trail & Calico Hills

Approaching Calico Hills

Be vewy, vewy kwiet! (Photo: John Ward)
It was the Veteran's Day holiday and Red Rock Canyon was all aflutter with hikers, climbers and sightseers! Eleven club members decided it would be a great way to join among the celebration and honors to "get out in it!" We got to the park early (around 8am) and grabbed a parking spot at the fee booth parking lot. This hike was chosen so that a drive around the tourist laden 13-mile scenic loop was unnecessary. The cars were starting to roll in past the fee booth as we started out toward the Calico Hills by crossing the road over to the beginning of the Grand Circle Trail. (Now aka Grand Loop!)

Enjoying the Morning 

Climbing up to the Old Grand Circle Trail

Descent on Old Trail

Using the Wash below Calico II
It was a chilly morning and the wind would pick up quite a bit by the end of the hike. We were prepared! The route today climbed up to Calico I Overlook and dropped into the sandstone wash. Immediately, we climbed up the hill on the sandstone side of the wash. This is the old route of the Grand Circle. This trail put us in the gusty wind until we dropped down next to the wash again with a mild bit of scrambling. Next, we chose the route that led past Calico II above and through the gravel and sandstone wash. This route is shaded and eliminates one big hill to climb on the trail.

The Grand Circle Petroglyphs

Steep Slab Sandstone on Trail

Calico Hills View

Calico II Peak
After we connected with the Grand Circle Trail, again, we passed the old petroglyphs and climbed up toward Sandstone Quarry. This section of the trail was especially colorful with today's blue sky. Every once in a while, we would stop to look for rock climbers. We could hear them speak to each other as the sound bounced off their sandstone walls but, sometimes, they were difficult to find! We made a short stop on the white sandstone overlook near Sandstone Quarry for a view, then we hiked into the popular turnout. The parking lot was packed with cars, hikers and tourists. The holiday in the park was well on its way to an excited crowd! We parked ourselves at the slot for our break. A few of us went up into the slot for a look-see.

View toward Sandstone Quarry

View toward Calico II on Scenic Loop

Slot at Sandstone Quarry Break

Lots of Cars ... & Steve
It was a great group of club hikers, today. We were all enjoying the people around us. The tourists stopped us to ask questions and rock climbers were everywhere by the time we started to head back. At break time, we agreed to a decision of taking a slightly different route on the return. But, first, we retraced our steps back to the area below the Calico II Overlook. Here, we connected with the new Grand Circle Trail that follows along the wash on the Scenic Loop side. This trail has its descents and ascents, too, but no scrambling. When we got back to Calico I, we weaved our way through the crowd up to the parking area and again agreed to the decision to return via Moenkopi Hill. So, we turned to the right and hiked all the way up to the top end of the parking lot to connect with that trail.

Break in the Sun at Slot

Hiking Back

Approach to Calico II

Rock Climbers near Calico II
There weren't many other hikers on this trail and we climbed up and over the hill that provides wide views of, well, everything! We took note of the burn area of 2005. Some of the yuccas are growing back but it will take many decades for them to appear as they did before the fire. At the other side of the hill, we connected with the Grand Circle Trail again and chose to go through the Visitor Center parking lot to finish our route back to the fee booth parking lot. At this time, we were surprised (and caught off guard) that there was a sign saying that the last part of the trail was closed. Hmm. Anyway, we enjoyed the day and the people. We kind of even enjoyed the chilly wind!

7 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Starting on Moenkopi Trail

Climbing Moenkopi Hill

On Top

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Hollow Rock Peak - 11/10/18

Hollow Rock Peak

Mt. Potosi from Hollow Rock Peak

Limestone/Sandstone Line of Keystone Thrust from Hollow Rock Peak

Reaching Heartbreak Hill Saddle
Hollow Rock Peak is a good hike producing rising heart rates, scrambling opportunities, and beautiful views. What more can you ask for? Eleven hikers found the Mountain Springs Pass Trailhead through the construction barrels and started up Heartbreak Hill. The group was similarly matched and we all arrived at the saddle in the same 5 minutes breathing hard and finally awake! It was a somewhat clear and chilly morning after the previous day of wind. Some dust still hung over the Las Vegas Strip in the distance until later in the hike. After a breather, we turned to our right to continue up to the high point of the hike.

Mt. Potosi from High Point of Hike
At the high point, we stopped for a moment to admire Mt. Potosi then started down the bench leading out to Hollow Rock Peak, the second peak in the Sandstone Bluffs from the southern terminus.

Windy Peak from Trail
We stayed on the limestone portion of the Keystone Thrust for another couple of hills as we made our way down. (The Keystone Thrust is where old limestone is making its way over the newer sandstone in a thrust fault zone.)
Mike points stuff Out

Grapevine Canyon between Windy Peak and Hollow Rock
Soon, we could see our target on the end of the bench that curves around from south to north. Also in view was Windy Peak to the north and Grapevine Canyon lying in between the two benches. The terrain from our ridge to the canyon below is unforgiving, very steep and rocky. Although we passed several fresh bighorn evidence, we didn't spot any. We do know they like this area.

Starting the Sandstone Scramble
The trail curves around on the north side of the bench as it transfers from the limestone to the sandstone. Stepping up onto the ridge, we were placed on sandstone plates in a section colored yellow, pink and purple. This was accentuated in the winter morning light.

Beautiful Yellow, Pink and Purple Rock
The trail is mostly cairned at this time as it travels atop the ridge. The first dip begins to the right side as cairns lead you around the steep cliffy rocks in front of you.

Scrambling over the Sandstone Bench

The First Dip
There are two dips on this route. They take hikers down below the ridge (not too far) and climb up over two rises. The first dip has a couple of different options. All are good if you don't get too high. At the top of the second rise, there is a small rocky peak to the right. Today, the group went for extra credit and climbed this peak up to the large cairn placed at the top. (Photo below.) Next, the route curves around to the left as it climbs up to Hollow Rock. We had brought a rope that we were going to leave on the large knob but someone had beaten us to it. Mike and Pat checked it out and decided it was secure at this time. So a few hikers climbed up the rock and found their way back down.

Extra Credit on the Way
We took our break sitting on the cliff below the knob looking out into the distance that was Cottonwood Valley and Las Vegas.

Rita gets Help at Hollow Rock
We had a clear view of the Late Night TH where the other club hike was located. It was too far away to recognize anyone but we think we saw some of the hikers that were involved in that hike hanging out in the parking lot.

Hikers on Break at Hollow Rock Peak

Late Night Trailhead from Peak - Do we know these people?
After the break, we slowly made our way back down past the two dips. This time we took a slightly different route at the optional section. When we all gathered at the sandstone /limestone line, we started down toward the sandstone canyon wash below us to the south. There is an optional route as a scramble through the wash but we were headed to the trail and abandoned road found to the west of the wash. A slow deliberate descent over loose sandstone brought us to a cairned trail that we followed until we hit the top of the old road that begins by overlooking the wash. A switchback on the road led us to a dirt service road that runs parallel to SR 160 for three quarters of a mile.

Sandstone Approach to Peak
This road is very hilly. So, it takes any energy that you have left to hike back up along the road to the trailhead.

Climbing back up the First Dip
Many different animal footprints can be found on this road. Someone should place a wildlife camera here!

Fossil Footprints?

Trail down to Abandoned Road
We hiked up and down the hills until reaching the triple powerline poles that cross the road. Just after this we walked into the trailhead. It was a great morning and a great group led by a great hike leader.

BTW, up on the sandstone ridge, we walked across what looked like small fossil footprints seen in the photo above. Nothing big like a jurassic dinosaur but fossil footprints, nonetheless!

5 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Abandoned Road above Sandstone Wash

Hiking the Service Road back to TH

The State of the Entrance to Trailhead, Presently