Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Calico Hills & Moenkopi Hill - 11/12/18

Sandstone Quarry Slot

Grand Circle Trail & Calico Hills

Approaching Calico Hills

Be vewy, vewy kwiet! (Photo: John Ward)
It was the Veteran's Day holiday and Red Rock Canyon was all aflutter with hikers, climbers and sightseers! Eleven club members decided it would be a great way to join among the celebration and honors to "get out in it!" We got to the park early (around 8am) and grabbed a parking spot at the fee booth parking lot. This hike was chosen so that a drive around the tourist laden 13-mile scenic loop was unnecessary. The cars were starting to roll in past the fee booth as we started out toward the Calico Hills by crossing the road over to the beginning of the Grand Circle Trail. (Now aka Grand Loop!)

Enjoying the Morning 

Climbing up to the Old Grand Circle Trail

Descent on Old Trail

Using the Wash below Calico II
It was a chilly morning and the wind would pick up quite a bit by the end of the hike. We were prepared! The route today climbed up to Calico I Overlook and dropped into the sandstone wash. Immediately, we climbed up the hill on the sandstone side of the wash. This is the old route of the Grand Circle. This trail put us in the gusty wind until we dropped down next to the wash again with a mild bit of scrambling. Next, we chose the route that led past Calico II above and through the gravel and sandstone wash. This route is shaded and eliminates one big hill to climb on the trail.

The Grand Circle Petroglyphs

Steep Slab Sandstone on Trail

Calico Hills View

Calico II Peak
After we connected with the Grand Circle Trail, again, we passed the old petroglyphs and climbed up toward Sandstone Quarry. This section of the trail was especially colorful with today's blue sky. Every once in a while, we would stop to look for rock climbers. We could hear them speak to each other as the sound bounced off their sandstone walls but, sometimes, they were difficult to find! We made a short stop on the white sandstone overlook near Sandstone Quarry for a view, then we hiked into the popular turnout. The parking lot was packed with cars, hikers and tourists. The holiday in the park was well on its way to an excited crowd! We parked ourselves at the slot for our break. A few of us went up into the slot for a look-see.

View toward Sandstone Quarry

View toward Calico II on Scenic Loop

Slot at Sandstone Quarry Break

Lots of Cars ... & Steve
It was a great group of club hikers, today. We were all enjoying the people around us. The tourists stopped us to ask questions and rock climbers were everywhere by the time we started to head back. At break time, we agreed to a decision of taking a slightly different route on the return. But, first, we retraced our steps back to the area below the Calico II Overlook. Here, we connected with the new Grand Circle Trail that follows along the wash on the Scenic Loop side. This trail has its descents and ascents, too, but no scrambling. When we got back to Calico I, we weaved our way through the crowd up to the parking area and again agreed to the decision to return via Moenkopi Hill. So, we turned to the right and hiked all the way up to the top end of the parking lot to connect with that trail.

Break in the Sun at Slot

Hiking Back

Approach to Calico II

Rock Climbers near Calico II
There weren't many other hikers on this trail and we climbed up and over the hill that provides wide views of, well, everything! We took note of the burn area of 2005. Some of the yuccas are growing back but it will take many decades for them to appear as they did before the fire. At the other side of the hill, we connected with the Grand Circle Trail again and chose to go through the Visitor Center parking lot to finish our route back to the fee booth parking lot. At this time, we were surprised (and caught off guard) that there was a sign saying that the last part of the trail was closed. Hmm. Anyway, we enjoyed the day and the people. We kind of even enjoyed the chilly wind!

7 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Starting on Moenkopi Trail

Climbing Moenkopi Hill

On Top

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