Saturday, January 6, 2018

Blue Diamond Canyons 2&3 - 1/6/18

Peering down 12' drop in Canyon #3

View down Canyon #3

Starting Up Canyon #2

The First Dry Fall Scramble
 As was mentioned on our hike/scramble today, at first blush, the terrain across Highway 159 from Blue Diamond, Nevada appears so uninteresting. Located in Red Rock Canyon NCA, the terrain is part of the Bird Spring Formation on the southern hillside of what is called North Blue Diamond Hill. Nineteen hikers arrived at the trailhead this morning to enjoy two absolutely beautiful canyons here. We started by sidling through the barbed wire fence next to a gate that contains a small utility building. The fence is mainly for wild burro control but also to deter cars from driving inside. If you decide to explore these canyons, just make sure that you do not block the gate with your car. Thanks.

Canyon #2

Next, after waiting for a late comer, we hiked over toward the canyon on the other side of the building and dropped in.
The Pile of Rocks/Rope Scramble
 The first part of the Canyon #2 is very rocky and brushy as is the bottom of Canyon #3.

Looking for Owls?

Canyon #2
 After finding our way through the maze of rocks and catclaws, we arrived at the first dry fall and the fun began! Even with nineteen hikers in tow, we stayed together pretty well until we got near the end of the hike. We climbed and balanced up the canyon. The next dry fall of interest requires stepping up to the top of a large pile of rocks then using a fixed rope to help yourself up. With each difficult climb, the group waited patiently for everyone to make it up. Onward up the beautiful narrow canyon, we scrambled up stair steps looking for the resident owl.

Canyon #2
 A few hikers in the front of the line saw the owl about mid canyon flying away. Near the top of the canyon, most of us saw the owl again.

A Tough One (with go around)
 We came to a particularly difficult dry fall seen above. But this one has a go around if you prefer. About five hikers took the go around.

The Real Tough One (no go around)

Conquering the Last Dry Fall
 The last dry fall in Canyon #2 is the most difficult and has no go around. It can be climbed on the right or left side. The right side is perhaps the easiest but the correct choreography has to be performed. Right foot on the wall as high as you can. Left foot on that ledge that sticks out. (You know. The one that doesn't look like it will hold you!) Right hand on one of two hand holds. And, up you go! We all made it with help and encouragement from everyone else. Next, the canyon came to an end just below the gypsum mine road seen high above the trail.

Nearing Top of Canyon #2
 Here, we turned to the left and climbed the hill until we crossed paths with a small trail. We turned left on the trail and hiked around until we saw the terrain start dipping down into Canyon #3.

Climb Up and Over to Canyon #3
 The wind started blowing a bit so we found a spot at the top of Canyon #3 to sit for a snack.

Break at Top of Canyon #3

Starting Down Canyon #3
 After detaching Mike from a large cactus spine in his foot (through his shoe, BTW), we headed down canyon. The wash in this canyon is a bit more brushy. There were a couple of step downs then a larger step down then the really big step down. This 12' foot drop can be done if you are able bodied. However, there is also an up and around to the right. Mind you, the up and around is scree filled and slightly nasty in a spot or two. Continuing down canyon, we down climbed about five or six more dry falls of significance. In the past, we have seen a baby rattlesnake in this area but it's too cold for the cute little buggers right now!

Canyon #3
 Catclaws (or desert acacias) are more prevalent in this canyon and care must be taken to not get caught. Velcro plants are also all around.

Mike flies down 12' Drop
 After dropping over most of the large dry falls, it is important to stay in or close to the wash. It is tempting to escape early.

Watching out for the Velcro Plants

Canyon #3
 We followed the wash until a trail began appearing on the left side. Again, be careful about climbing out of the wash too early. You will have a much longer bushwhack from Canyon #3 to the Trailhead. At last, we climbed out to the left and crossed the desert terrain in the direction of the cars. Sometimes you can find a very small trail that leads over but it isn't necessary. At the end, there is the option of climbing through the fence early or back at the gate. Your choice! This hike/scramble is always a fun morning! Great group today!

4 miles; 950 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Fun Little Scramble

Exiting Canyon #3 near Bottom

The Crossover

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