Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Two Peaks and an Arch - 11/19/18

From Northern Calico Hills to Kraft Mountain

View from Climb to Calico II Overlook

Bright Winter Sun hitting Yellow Sandstone

First Stop - The Arch
We have been scrambling around in the northern parts of the Calico Hills for many years, mostly with climbs to Red Cap, Calico Peak and Calico II Peak. These were all great scrambles and are still enjoyed in many variations. Since the spring of 2012 with my introduction of the Tank Discovery Scramble, the surrounding yellow sandstone has been added to our rep. Today, we made an effort to include a lot of that really fun and beautiful stuff in a scramble rated as "High Moderate." Admittedly, it ended up being a "Moderately Strenuous" scramble due to the endurance factor. Four miles is a long way to scramble! Perhaps future "Moderate" scrambles should be shorter in distance. Nevertheless, all scramblers who attended today, professed to have had a fantastic time (some doing something they had not done before). We stayed at a slow pace making sure everyone had a chance to get from point to point.

Sandstone Layers
 We started with twelve scramblers. A few participants knew that it would be possible to leave the hike midway since the route crossed the Calico Tanks Trail three times.

Descending to Calico Tanks Trail
 By the mid-point of the scramble, we were down to ten. But, both hikers left with smiles on their face and happy that they made the effort.

Sun Rises on Calico Tanks Trail

Scrambling into the Cool Shade
 The trailhead was Sandstone Quarry off of the Scenic Loop. We headed into the quarry rocks and hugged the sandstone in the neighboring wash until reaching the obscure entrance to the arch canyon. Our first stop was to introduce a couple of newbies to the hefty low spanning arch that hides away from the trails. From there, we crossed the sandstone over a hill and dropped on a steep sandy path to the Calico Tanks Trail. There is a very interesting layered sandstone formation at the top of this path as seen in one of the photos above. Now, on the familiar trail, we trudged through the sand and climbed the trail until we reached the next junction for the scramble found just after the second set of CCC made steps.

David catches the Group as they Wait
 Turning to the right on a highish point of the trail, we climbed up into the white rocks and plateaued out near Rooster Rock. We crossed the plateau and started climbing up the steep sandstone on the ridge above.

Enjoying the View while they wait their Turn on a Scramble
 Just as a side trip, we hiked over to the Pretty Tank Overlook. We didn't scramble down since we saw that the tank, along with all the other tinajas that we passed, was dry. Bone dry!

Climbing up to the Calico II Overlook Ramp

From Calico II Overlook to North Blue Diamond Hill
We'll leave the beauty of the tinajas for another scramble, perhaps Tony's "Sixteen Tanks" hike! So, we crossed over to the west side of the sandstone and made the rocky, brushy traverse south. A few of the bushes in this area need a haircut. (That scrub oak is painful!) After the traverse, we veered to the right and scrambled our way over to Calico II Overlook for a 5 minute break. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was very bright and the temperatures were settling into the perfect range. From there, we followed Tony up the canyon wash on the other side of Calico II Peak that we saw above us. His version of the climb removed the dangerous exposure factor that we were trying to avoid. Then, we summited Calico II Peak for a few photos.

From Calico II Overlook to White Rock Hills and La Madre Range
 The group separated for the descent down to the main tank area. (The main tank was also bone dry.) Mike led the more strenuous scramblers down the cliff descent and I led the others down the crowded canyon wash. Fun was had by all!

Traverse above the Canyon Wash
 The proposed route turned left when we returned to the Calico Tanks Trail at the main tank. We descended the many CCC steps of the trail until we reached the junction with Mass Production Wall.

Approach to Calico II Peak

From Calico II Peak to Calico Hills South
 Mass Production Wall was named by rock climbers a long time ago. Next to the wall, there is a steep climb through small boulders. Then an even steeper climb on slab sandstone continues straight up the hill until it culminates in a hop over a wall to the top tank level. The group again separated for their break. Six scramblers continued up to Red Cap while four others stayed below at the junction. We could see the Red Cap summiters when they reached their goal and we enjoyed a nice rest. As the Red Cappers came down to join us at the junction, they chose a variety of scrambles down the wall. Very creative bunch!

Canyon Wash Descent from Calico II Peak
 It has been a while since the club has used the West Side approach to Red Cap for an ascent or a descent. Bravely, we headed down!

Junction on Calico Tanks Trail with Mass Production Wall
 It starts with a scramble down a crack next to a wall with the bottom being a slab rock that requires crab walking to descend.

Steep Climb up from Mass Production Wall

Three of Six Red Cap Climbers
 Staying to the right, we traversed around to the next sandstone plateau. Stay right until you pass through some big boulders and the dirt trail ends. Here, descend steep slab as seen in photos below. Here's where I got in trouble. I should have followed Tony but I just didn't recognize the transition. So, I took eight of the hikers on a wild goose chase and had to return to the point in question. (We learned something anyway.) So, then, we followed Tony's route down on a dirt trail among rocks then veered right and found our sought after crack slot. From there, everything was familiar again and we descended to an area very near the Calico Tanks Trail in redstone.

 Sorry for the extra mileage folks. Nevertheless, Mike found a new way to descend the sandstone from that detour!

Starting West Side Descent from Red Cap Area
Fun! Fun! Fun! All together again, we followed the back trail around to connect with the Rattlesnake Trail.

Steep Slab (Freeze!)

Steep Slab (Okay, go!)
 The Rattlesnake Trail connects with the Calico Tanks Trail and we followed it back to the cars. The parking lot was filled to capacity and visitors were everywhere! All scramblers were accounted for and everyone had a great time. We must do more of these somewhat easier scrambles! They are a great workout whether or not you include a bunch of exposure elements or hang by your fingernails! Scrambling is a full body workout. Today's slow 4 mile scramble took just over 4 hours.

With Red Cap: 4.3 miles; 1200' gain
Without Red Cap: 4 miles; 1100' gain

Finally, we found the slot!

Connecting with the Rattlesnake Trail

Returning to Calico Tanks Trail on the Rattlesnake Trail

Graph without climb to Red Cap - (Red Cap is slightly higher than Calico II Peak)

Graph with Climb to Red Cap

1 comment:

Kay Blackwell said...

Yes, it was a FANTASTIC time! Great hike, Kay!!
Thanks for all you do - including your wonderful blog. Fred always wants to know if there'll be pictures.