Sunday, February 11, 2018

Jean's Peak / Redstone Loop - 2/10/18

Bitter Ridge and Lake Mead from Jean's Peak

Brittlebush Blooming in Jean's Canyon

Heading out Ridge Game Trail (Jean's Peak far Left)

Starting up the Ascent Wash
There is a small mountain peak not far off of Northshore Road mile marker 25 that rises 800 elevation feet from the trailhead. It is marked by a very large cairn on its ridge that can be seen from the highway below. This peak and a canyon nearby were named for a beloved area hiker when she died; two of her favorite routes. Today, seventeen hikers made the drive up by Lake Mead and parked in what is known as the Call Box Trailhead Parking (MM 25). Facing the opposite side of the road, there is a deep cut canyon to the right (west). We started our hike by dropping into this canyon on its right side and began scrambling up the wash. We warmed up quickly as it was a cool morning with a slight breeze. It appeared that the canyon had not been traveled since, at least, its last downpour of rain. The game trails that aid in the climb were not worn.

Hiking through the Triple Arch
Staying in the wash or up to the right of the wash, we climbed together until we saw the triple arch at the base of the cliff up to the right.

Climbing up from First Saddle (Redstone in Distance)
Here, we climbed up and through the arch then proceeded out a game trail that paralleled the cliff and wash. This took us on a traverse route to the saddle.

View from Second Saddle

Ascent to Large Cairn and Peak
The next portion of the route is an out and back climb to the peak. We turned right and headed up the hill. There are a very few cairns that you might or might not run across but the route goes over a "hump" then down and up to the top of the next "hump." On this hump, turn right and continue climbing. This leads to a saddle area that circles around the top of that canyon down to your left. This saddle has one of the most beautiful widespread views of the northeastern Lake Mead NRA area, the Bitter Spring Valley. The cliff formation that stands out to the NNW is cut in the Bitter Ridge Limestone Member of the Horse Spring Formation (aka Bitter Spring Cliff). (Also sometimes referred to as the Desert Colosseum!)

Seventeen at Jean's Peak Cairn
One historic geologic value of this huge area includes the summation that Frenchman Mountain, which now lies 25 miles to the southwest, once passed through Bitter Spring Valley!

View toward Bowl of Fire from Peak
From this saddle, you can see the large cairn on the ridge. We hiked up the hill and signed into the log book set inside the cairn. Our group photo was also taken.

Descent from Peak

Descent Wash
We hiked on up to the peak which wasn't too far away. From this side of Jean's Peak, you can see the Bowls of Fire redstone. Then, looking in the other direction, you can see Redstone lying at the east end of Pinto Valley. Since it was still early in the hike, we all enjoyed the climb up and took the descent back to the first saddle carefully on still fresh legs. At the original saddle, we turned to the right and started down the wash. There is also a game trail up on the right side if you prefer. Everyone had to go to the game trail at a point near the bottom to avoid a large brushy dry fall. Then we dropped into a small canyon. This is a mid-point of Jean's Canyon.

Jean's Canyon Junction
This canyon will take you back to the trailhead if you turn to the left. We turned right and scrambled up to Jean's Canyon high point where there are Bear Paw Poppies and Colorado 4 O'Clocks growing healthily. They will probably bloom soon ... depending on the weather.

Bear Paw Poppy (R)
Stay in the wash here. The terrain on either side of this flattish area is fragile and we like to see the flowers here every year. A fork to the left must be taken soon.

Jean's Canyon Descent

Dry Fall Scramble
Now, on our way down the other end of Jean's Canyon, we scrambled with anticipation. "There's a dry fall coming up," the coordinator warned. "It's not bad." Following hikers never want to hear those words! (All part of the fun!) So, finally, we came to the dry fall and scrambling ensued. Everyone had their own technique and everyone made it down; some with help and some without. A little bit more scrambling came after that then the second and last dry fall arrived. As before, the coordinator climbed up the hill to the left on a trail that was suspiciously unused. She crossed over to the "cliff to nowhere," then began a very careful descent on slipperiness. At the bottom of the hill, one by one, we stopped for our snack break.

Second Big Obstacle
After we all got down, one hiker that knows a lot about this area said that there are two other ways to pass this obstacle. Hmmm. Maybe we'll check them out next time.

Nearing Pinto Valley Junction
After a relaxed break, we continued out Jean's Canyon winding our way to Pinto Valley and the old Arrowhead Highway. We turned to the left and followed the old dirt road and the large wash for around 0.8 miles.

Arrowhead Highway

The Cut
Here, the Arrowhead Highway continues curving straight. We turned into the wash to the right; the Cut Wash. This smaller wash winds up to a cut in a layer of upturned rock where we had little trouble getting through. We were heading toward Redstone cliffs wondering where we should make a very steep climb. Luckily, we had that Redstone expert with us, Chuck, and he led us around the side of the cliffs and pointed out a couple of petroglyph panels. We also saw a large arch and a small bighorn horn. We weaved through Redstone experiencing a sampling of the wonder then climbed up to one of the mesas that runs down the middle.

Hiking around an Arch at Redstone
This Redstone excursion was meant to be a small "pass by" on our way back to the cars and our "pass by" was quality stuff!

Small Panel of Petroglyphs
On this mesa, we turned to the left and started down a game trail lying on top of a very narrow ridge. (This ridge was a fun discovery!) The trail led us over and down, back to a junction of the Arrowhead Highway at the top of what we refer to as the Pinto Valley version of Heartbreak Hill. At the road, we turned to the right.

Scramble above Redstone Cliffs

Another Small Panel of Petroglyphs
With only a mile left of easy hiking to go, the group began to speed up and spread out. We followed the Arrowhead Highway for 0.4 miles; turned left onto a barely decipherable 2-track road for 0.25 miles; followed a trail to the left for another 0.1 mile; then hit the pavement of Northshore Road. Here, we turned to the left and walked 0.4 mile up the road to the cars. Everyone had a good time at a moderate pace on a moderately strenuous to strenuous hike. It was new stuff to many of today's hikers.

6.5 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 4.75 hours

Roaming around Redstone

Starting down Ridge Game Trail

Finishing the Hike

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