Sunday, April 1, 2018

North Bowl Back Loop - 3/31/18

Inch Worm Arch

Northwest Corner of North Bowl of Fire

Bear Paw Poppy Bloom

Bear Paw Poppies
 The North and South Bowls of Fire are another example (like the Keystone Thrust) of older rock and younger rock mixing it up with fault movement. Below is an explanation from the geology book, *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; page 72.
    *The Bowl of Fire has formed in the heart of an anticline - an up-arched fold that exposes older rocks at its core. The rocks in the core of the Bowl of Fire anticline are Aztec Sandstone (about 180 million years old). The younger rocks on the flanks include various members of the Horse Spring Formation (17 to about 12.5 million years old) that lie unconformably on and in fault contact with the Aztec Sandstone. The dark rocks in foreground, on each side of the gap leading into the bowl, are the Rainbow Gardens Member of the Horse Spring Formation.

Junction of Overland to Main Wash
 Today's hike explored into the northwest corner of the North Bowl of Fire where arches, slots and cracks to scramble exist. The only way to get there is to make the long hike up through the main wash that runs down between the North and South Bowls.

Hiking up Main Wash
 But first, eight club members took a side trip up into the Pinto Valley Wash. The bear paw poppies are in bloom and, oh, what a display! They were growing in many clumps up on the hill to the left as soon as you dropped down into the wash on the trail.

One Significant Dry Fall in Main Wash

Best guess is Preuss' Milkvetch (Astragalus preussii var. preussii)
 After viewing the gorgeous yellow flowers that only grow in the Lake Mead NRA, we crossed back over Northshore Road MM 18 and headed in the opposite direction overland straight to the main wash outlet from North Bowl of Fire. We wasted no time. Up the wash, at full speed through the sandy gravel.  Choosing all the shortcut routes we could find in the wiggles of the wash. (There was one left fork that we used at a big red rock outcropping.) Fast, fast, fast. Finally, ... finally, we came to the first and only significant dry fall scramble in the main wash and we clamored up. After this, the wash became more colorful. Flowers were blooming here as well. Beavertail cacti, brittlebush, desert marigolds, sundrops, and the occasional globemallow.

Nearing the Overland Juncture
 When we reached a familiar juncture that we have used while hiking the North Bowl exit, we turned up the small wash. (The overland trail went up the hill at a sharp left. The main wash continued up veering left.)

Elephant Arch
 A short way up the small wash, we came to the Elephant Arch seen up on the hill to the left. This was our queue to scramble up the sandstone. We passed by the interesting arch and continued around behind it.

Climbing up past Elephant Arch

Traverse above Wash Below (Lovell Ridge Behind)
Our route followed along the cliff above the main wash below as seen in the second photo of this entry. Next, we dropped down into a side wash and headed up for a short way. We rounded a corner and came to a fabulous delicately standing arch that we named the Inch Worm Arch because of its shape on this side. We walked all around it and took photos then hiked up to our left and found another interesting arch in the shape of the Moon Lander, "Eagle." More photos. Continuing along the same direction, we climbed over a small rise. The group was spread out finding their own routes.

Weaving through Redstone
 Eventually, we veered right staying high until our route connected with a small wash/ridge at the same level. From here, we descended a hill and dropped through a small slot wash.

Lettie, Chuck S. & Kay Posing in Arches
 Not far from here, straight ahead, we came to a scramble crack to ascend. Inside the crack, there was a low-to-the-ground arch we named Sliding Board Arch. This nice scramble took us up to the high point where we had our break.

Moon Lander Arch

Staying High
 We were 4 miles into the hike and it was the first really warm day of spring. No one complained when we dropped into a shaded spot to sit. Nearby, there was a crack that led down to the wide exit of the North Bowl. Instead, we dropped in the opposite direction. This is a slot descent that, unfortunately, has a lot of brush in the top end. The brush is harmless and we pushed through. From there on, the slot is a very good scramble. We emptied out into the top end of the small North Bowl exit wash. A left turn started a journey down toward the Elephant Arch.

Dropping behind Rise to Right
 This is a nice small wash that sometimes has water hazards. But, today, there was only one water hazard that we easily went around. There was a tiny frog here!

Climbing a Scramble Crack
 After passing the Elephant Arch, we exited the small wash at the overland juncture. A trail led us up to the top terrain on the right side of the main wash.

Sliding Board Arch in Scramble Crack

View Back from Scramble Crack
 Once again, the leader pushed the pedal to the metal and off we went. The top terrain is easily negotiated but the legs were tired and it was warm. When the route dropped back into the main wash for the last two miles of sandy gravel and more desert terrain, the pace did not slow. We each managed as best we could and there were seven relieved hikers when we reached the cars. The eighth? He could probably go another five miles! This hike could be compared to one of Brian's long Valley of Fire hikes! Good but hard paced!

8 miles; 750 feet elevation gain; 4.25 hours (Stats not counting Bear Paw Poppy excursion.)

Resting in the Shade

Down climb through Slot

Heading back out the Main Wash

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