Saturday, February 24, 2018

Rainbow Canyon (Pt to Pt) - 2/24/18

Rainbow Canyon

Overlook Saddle of Rainbow Ridge

Nubby Knob

Hiking from Trailhead to Lovell Wash
 A tiny trace of a mineral within the "glue" of sandstone (i.e. silica, iron oxides or calcium carbonate) can produce vivid color in the rock. And, that's what today's hike was full of ... vivid color! Another red letter day for the Around the Bend Friends, twenty hikers came out for a hike through Rainbow Canyon with a finale of a new route up and over a very promising saddle and following wash. Promising a shortish hike, we decided to make today a point to point that began at Northshore Road's MM 16 and ended at MM 14. With twenty hikers and a lot of cars, the mathematicians' brains overheated in the preparation stage! In the end, we had eight drivers, so we placed two cars at MM 14.

Entrance to Rainbow Canyon
 The first test of the hike came immediately. We had to climb up and over the berm that lines the parking lot and Callville Wash on the other side.

Dropping down to Lovell Wash
 Next, we found a small wash across the large wash that led us up to the top terrain, past the Nubby Knob and through a few shallow arroyos.

Approaching Rainbow Canyon

Rainbow Canyon
 Reaching Lovell Wash, we found a convenient descent wash that was pretty easy to negotiate. Already, Rainbow Canyon had caught our eye. We made sure that all twenty hikers had made it down then we turned to the right and hiked up a short distance to the entrance to Rainbow Canyon. (It's hard to miss!) We turned into the canyon and were immediately surrounded by, as promised, vivid colors. Lots of photos! We hiked up the easy beautiful wash and soon came to the old mine shaft.

Approaching Old Mine Shaft
 The mine shaft is deep. We don't know how deep but on a previous hike someone dropped their hiking stick in it. It is presumably still there.

Hiking Rainbow Canyon
 There used to be a fence surrounding the deep pit but no more. Should be though.

Visiting Old Mine Shaft

Rainbow Canyon & Rainbow Ridge Above
 After our careful fun and games at the mine, we continued up the wash. The color starts fading very slowly and, eventually, an old road lying in the wash becomes apparent. Our route changed from following the wash to following the road. (Really, we were following horse hoof prints!) The old road begins to climb on a gradual slope. Be careful not to drift off the main drag. If you pass a pile of old rusted cans, you are still on track. This is probably where the miners of years back spent their evenings after a day of work at the original Anniversary Mine nearby.

Hiking Rainbow Canyon
 We drifted off the main drag twice then corrected ourselves. One of those times, we found a large cairn, possibly a mining claim.

Less Color nearing Old Road
 On the road again ... 😁 ... we followed the rutted rocky tracks until we junctioned with what appeared to be a main usable dirt road.

Climbing Old Road

Snow on Griffith Peak in Distance
 This is the Anniversary Mine Road and it appeared to have been traveled regularly. We weren't on this road long before we had to turn down to the left on a much more rugged road. Now, we were approaching the Lower Rainbow Canyon. Right away, we were on the lookout for a way to climb out up to the left. We took the first climb out but should have waited longer. It mattered not. Now, on top of the terrain at the base of Rainbow Ridge, we hiked overland to a known rock outcropping and slot canyon in the distance. Since we climbed out of the wash too early, we had to cross a deep arroyo on the way.

On Main Road for a Short Distance
 We separated into two groups. One group headed for the scramble slot where there is an interesting dry fall at the end.

Dropping toward Lower Rainbow Canyon
 The other group continued overland going up and over the hill next to the slot. We made our way to the bottom of the dry fall that the first group began descending one by one.

Slot Scramblers head toward the Slot

Overland Hikers descending to Dry Fall of Slot
 About half of the scramble group made the interesting descent. The other half climbed out the side of the slot and came down to join everyone for a snack break. The limestone rock outcropping that creates the slot is an unusual bit of geology for this locale. It is more akin to the Bird Spring Formation than the Horse Spring Formation. After a pleasant break, we continued down the wash that became a bit brushy. We side stepped the wash whenever we could on use and game trails. The trail that we were on curved around the end of a trailing ridge then veering to the left, up we went.

Slot Scramblers descend the Dry Fall at the End
 Next time, we should probably get off the trail and drop into the ascent wash that we were paralleling.

Taking a Break at the bottom of the Slot
 Up on the side terrain, we had to deal with a couple of arroyos then, nearing the saddle, we used a rocky wash to drop into the ascent wash anyway.

Leaving Slot to Hike Around Corner

Nearing the Overlook Saddle
 We finished the climb to the Overlook Saddle in the small wash and were blessed with a gorgeous display of color and geology! See the second photo of this entry. The view was fantastic! We could also see our route down to the main wash that flows beside Northshore Road. We were exactly where we needed to be to drop into a wash that appeared to flow smoothly all the way down. Still, this was our first exploration of this wash and we were keeping our fingers crossed that there were no non-negotiable dry falls in our path. We started down the wash and every time we turned a sharp corner, we peered anxiously. There was no need for concern. The wash was, in fact, smooth. We had loads of fun dropping down through the colors and formations between walls covered with crytobiotic soil. We were very careful not to destroy that living soil. Every corner required a photo!

Enjoying the Smooth Wash Descent
 Nearing the bottom, the terrain flattened. We emerged from a fork and then another fork.

Color Everywhere!
 If you wanted to reverse the track, it would be necessary to know your route since there would be a few forks to contend with.

Exiting a Wash Fork

Color Again!
 Finally, we merged with the main wash very near the MM 13 Trailhead of Northshore Road. Turning to the left, we continued enjoying colorful views then came to the familiar culvert that would take us underneath the highway to the other side. Continuing down the really red walled wash, we came to the first opening on the left side that allowed hiking. This is the exit wash that would take us to the MM 14 Trailhead pullout. Reaching the embankment of the highway above, we exited to the left.

Exiting to Main Wash
 All the drivers jumped in the two cars and drove back to MM 16 to pick up the cars. Then they came back to MM 14 to pick up the remaining hikers.

Main Wash (Muddy Creek Formation)
 The new route was very well received and all agreed that it was a beautiful day! What a great group of happy explorers!

Approaching the Culvert

Step Carefully!
 An option to this hike is a 6.5 to 7 mile loop starting and ending at MM 15. It would be suggested to hike to Lovell Wash and continue up that wash to the entrance of Rainbow Canyon. Then, to return after the culvert, use the second large wash to turn left and follow this all the way back to MM 15. A bit longer hike avoiding the point to point car shuffle ... uh, shuttle. But the "meat" of the hike is really in the previously described 5.5 miles.

5.3 miles; 750 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Hiking down to Left Turn

Rainbow Ridge from Exit Wash

Climbing up to Northshore Road to Positioned Cars at MM 14

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