Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ejection Seat Ridge Plus - 2/8/18

From Ejection Seat Ridge to Spring Mountains

Diversion Slot #1

Red Rock Outcropping Window

Starting up Diversion Slot #1
 Ah, the Bitter Ridge Limestone Member of the Horse Spring Formation (aka Rainbow Ridge). Made of limestones that were *formed as calcium carbonate precipitated in a freshwater lake that filled a basin formed during regional extension in Miocene time. Add to that the Red Aztec Sandstone in the same area. And, the black basaltic rocks scattered among the red outcrops. *In this area of intersection of the major faults (Las Vegas Valley shear zone and the left-lateral Lake Mead fault system), the rocks have been sliced, tilted, thrust over each other, and folded. 

*Geologic Tours in the Las Vegas Area (Expanded Edition with GPS Coordinates), Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Special Publication 16, University of Nevada, Reno, Mackay School of Earth Sciences, 2008, Bear Printing, Sparks, NV; pages 67-68. 
Hiking up Slot #1
 It is in this area, between mile marker 13 and 15 of the Northshore Road that seven hikers (on a morning with cross town traffic jams up the wazoo) set off to enjoy the geological colors and shapes made in the Miocene time.

Textures of Slot #1
 We parked at a turnout on the south side of Northshore Road at mile marker 14.5. The embankment down to a large wash that runs parallel to the road is steep and deep but there is a trail that takes hikers down to the bottom.

Arriving at End of Diversion Slot #1

Heading out of Slot #1
 This particular hike was built on the fact that an air force jet crashed in a wash in this area around fifty years ago. The pilot ejected and survived but the ejection seat remained where it landed on this ridge across from Rainbow Ridge above the redstone. Even though the main point of interest is the seat and the plane crash, this area is fraught with color and maze-like canyons. Today, our hike that was originally created as a four mile hike became a six miler with added diversion slots that delve into the side of Rainbow Ridge.

Back into Road Wash
 In the deep Road Wash, we turned to the left and began following what we assumed were horse tracks in the sand. About a third of a mile up the wash, we turned to the left to climb out and cross the road.

Climbing out of Road Wash
 Across the road and to the left a tad, we dropped down into the wash on the other side. BTW, this trail down has been washed out recently and care must be taken. However, there is a more gentle route on down the road.

View East from Ridge

Narrow Route up to Ridge on East End
 We turned right and began hiking up the wash that soon became a slot. This would be known as Diversion Slot #1. At the end of this wash, we saw that this was a favorite place for the bighorns to hang out; probably in bad weather. We noticed that we were directly under a landmark pointy spire above. Back at the road, we crossed back over and dropped again into the Road Wash, turned left and continued following the horse tracks. Further up, we forked to the right and climbed up. This put us on top of the desert terrain. We saw the "UFO Rock" at the far end of the ridge to our right and began heading toward it in pretty much a straight line.

View from Route Up
 The straight trajectory of our route required us to cross a couple of arroyos on the way but today's group was strong and it was no problem.

Rainbow Ridge from top end of Ejection Seat Ridge
 When we reached the UFO Rock, we found a trail under it then circled around the rock to put us at the end of the ridge.

Lake Mead from Ridge - Manganese Oxide Minerals (Black)

The Group at the Ejection Seat
 Now, we were faced with the narrow climb up to the top of Ejection Seat Ridge. This climb can be more daunting to less experienced hikers but we pushed each other up easily. The views from the top end of the ridge are amazing in all directions. In addition to the many colors of rock around, we could see Lake Mead and Callville Bay, named after *Anson Call. Call was a man sent by Brigham Young to find a good spot on the Colorado River for a freight port. The settlement was named Callville and was established in 1864. However, only 5 years later the port was abandoned due to the completion of the railroad through Utah. The ruins of the settlement can be found under hundreds of feet of the water of Lake Mead.

A Few of Many Airplane Crash Parts
 The hike continued down the ridge. We took our photo at the ejection seat then crossed down to the Crash Wash. Slowly, we made our way down the wash taking photos of the various airplane parts that were still there.

Connecting with the Trail at the Bottom of the Crash Wash
 Care must be taken in the sometimes steep and slippery wash. You would not want to get cut by the exposed aluminum edges.

Distant View of Diversion Slot #1

Gentle Descent on Trailing Ridge
 At the bottom of the wash, we turned left onto a trail and followed this over at the foot of the ridge. Wondering where it continued led us to a cliff! We came back to a trailing ridge and began a gentle descent. The ridge doglegged to the left. When we were parallel to a large red Aztec Sandstone outcropping, we turned to the right and followed another gentle ridge down to it. Here, we climbed on the rock and took our break. There were many points of interest in the rock here, including arches, fossils, a sun etching and a rat's nest.

Arriving at the Red Rock Outcropping
 After we had a very relaxed break, we found a small wash to follow on the road side of the outcropping and started a small scramble down.

Various Point of Interest at Outcropping
 This small wash led to a midway wash and on down to the main wash that flowed from Rainbow Ridge. We turned to the right and followed the main wash through a very colorful narrow section.

Humpty Dumpty Arch

Scramble down to Main Wash
 We passed the entrance to the Road Wash where we would return after our Diversion Slots #2 and #3 and hiked through a rusted culvert to the other side of Northshore Road. Today, Slot #2 was a new wash we wanted to explore. We turned to the left and followed this wash until we found a wash turning to the right that had a high cliff on its left side. We hiked up this wash taking a fork to the right and ended up in an area where there was a lot of brush. We decided that this area must get a lot of water flow on rainy days. There is also a hikable steep hill up to the right that may be used for a future route.

Main Wash to Rainbow Ridge
 It was a warm day so we didn't want to take too much time on our explorations and we returned to the culvert junction.

Colorful Slot - Anhydrous Iron Oxide Minerals (Red)
 We decided to take a reconnaissance "look see" at the difficult dry fall that ends a descent from Rainbow Ridge. So, we turned to the left and started up Diversion Slot #3.

Small Scramble

Diversion Slot #2
 These slots are truly beautiful and each are very different. *Their vivid colors are a result of a combination of normal weathering processes and a generally oxidizing environment. Yellow colors are produced by hydrous iron oxide minerals, red colors by anhydrous iron oxide minerals (hydrous minerals contain water, anhydrous minerals do not), and black by manganese oxide minerals. Combinations of these minerals produce the various intermediate hues. Like cake coloring, a little goes a long way. A mere trace of a mineral can give strong color to a formation. In sandstones, the color is usually not in the sand grains themselves, but in the cement (silica, iron oxides, or calcium carbonate) between the grains.

Brush in Wash made of Hydrous Iron Oxide Minerals (Yellow)
 Diversion Slot #3 ended at the ten foot dry fall and we discussed how it was best to conquer the drop. A strap or rope is probably the best choice.

Climbing into Diversion Slot #3
 Decisions were made to be prepared with a strap on our next endeavor across Rainbow Ridge. The canyon above this dry fall is just too good to miss just because a simple ten footer lies at the end.

Dry Fall in Slot #3

Exiting Diversion Slot #3
 We returned down to the culvert and crossed back to the other side of the road. The main wash took us back to the entrance to the Road Wash and we turned to the left. A beautiful hike up the wash following those horse tracks took us back to the embankment below the cars. From there, we climbed the hill with our last bit of energy. It was a wonderful morning. Fun to explore. Relaxed in pace. Somewhat intimate.

6 miles; 1000 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

View Back in Slot #3

Back into Road Wash

Road Wash to Pointy Landmark of Slot #1

Red routes show today's New Stuff

No comments: