Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Whitney Wash (Gold Butte NM) - 1/14/19

Redstone Outcropping in Whitney Wash

Whitney Wash (from Top Down)

Route begins to the left of these rocks. (Virgin Peak Beyond)

Route finds this trail down into the wash.
 With rain and snow in the forecast for Las Vegas, two club members headed back up to Gold Butte National Monument for more exploring. Whitney Wash has flown under the radar for the club and it was time to enter within! Rita and I made the drive up I-15 to Exit #112, crossed the Virgin River and turned right onto Gold Butte Road. The following 30 minutes of slalom driving brought us twenty miles to Whitney Pocket where the holey pavement turns to dirt. There is a fork in the road here. Instead of going straight on New Gold Butte Road, we took the left fork onto Arizona Road and drove almost a half mile to a campsite area on the left ... with a toilet!

Entering Whitney Wash
 BTW, the toilet had just been cleaned and it was shiny, bright and smellin' good! Just sayin'. We parked here and headed north.

Steep Walls at Narrows formed from, perhaps, Volcanic Ash
 There is a vague trail that drops into a wash, circles around the west point of the big beautiful rock outcropping behind the trailhead and crosses another wash. If you don't see the trail, just go straight for the entrance of the canyon narrows in front of you.

Rounding corner in Wash

Redstone Crops Up!
 The route crosses a flat area then, when you are nearing the rocks on the right above the deep wash on your left, you will see a trail that "hangs" above the wash and leads down into Whitney Wash. Be careful here! A slip off the trail into the wash would not be good. (An alternate would be to go further down the wash and enter at a place that is not so steep.) Now, in the wash, we entered into the narrows that curves around into an area that is much larger than I expected! Full of color and intrigue! It is a wild place! We did see human footsteps from a single person but we also saw coyote and bobcat prints. No burro prints!

Whitney Wash lined with Redstone
 Geographically, Whitney Wash sandstone runs along the same "vein" as Amber Cat Canyon and the Falling Man petroglyph area. Therefore, it is no surprise that red sandstone appeared in the bedrock of the wash soon after the entrance.

Nearing the Amphitheater (Western Amphitheater Behind)
 The high walls on the right around the entrance of the wash were unusual in appearance. We wondered what created the designs in the rock. It is suggested that the designs may be formed from volcanic ash.

Waterslide entering Side Wash (Northern Amphitheater Behind)

Eastern Portion of the Amphitheater
 We passed an old rancher's fence on the left of the wash and saw the old mining road up on the hillside to the right. I suggest you take the wash since this road doesn't go anywhere by the looks of it. As we hiked, the wash widened and the sandstone bedrock made the climb easier. There is very little brush in the lower part of the wash so it was very pleasant to hike up the center. Next, we were passing a huge red sandstone rock outcropping on the left as seen in the first photo. After this, we entered into the bottom of the amphitheater setting and saw a lot of red rock all around. We chose an area of the canyon to head towards thinking it was the easiest way to climb nearest to the rimrock. Our first turn out of the main wash that curved around to the right was a left onto a large waterslide.

Dropping off of Today's High Point
 The waterslide had a large pothole near the bottom with a tunnel outlet. Up the waterslide, we chose the widest wash to start up and quickly decided to climb up onto the right bank. Soon, we decided to change to the left bank! Just wandering.

View toward Wash Entrance (Mica & Jumbo Pks. & Tramp Ridge Beyond L-R)
 The wash next to us was deep and curvy, a wash we later chose to descend. But, first, we climbed up along the left bank until we came to an overlook. At the overlook, we saw that the climb in front of us needed more research and decided to take our break.

We found an old dam in a side wash!

Wiggling down through a Narrow Side Wash
Up on the rim of the amphitheater, there is an old road that provides an overall view of Whitney Wash. It would be nice to find a way that was not too dangerous to make a loop hike of around 6 miles using the wash below and the road above. More research needed!

 After having ascended the small ridge, we chose to try descending the original side wash. We ran into some brush on the way down and had to climb up on the bank to get around. Back in the wash, we came upon one of those surprise treasures! An old dam (seen in the photo above). It still held back a load of sediment that had been deposited over the years. We were curious for what it had been built. Cows?

Southwestern Portion of Amphitheater
 It was difficult to imagine cows being up here in these small scrambly washes. Perhaps the dam was built to accommodate someone's bath tub needs!

Layers of Redstone "Upcropping!"
 Regardless, we passed through and continued down the wash until we hit more brush and climbed up on a narrow ridge to the side. A fun balance down the ridge took us back near the waterslide. From here, we retraced our steps all the way down the wash.

Nearing the Exit Narrows of Whitney Wash

Trail Out
 Finding the precarious trail (as seen in the photo to the left) out of the wash, we exited and followed the straight vague trail back to the trailhead. Next, we drove back down the road 0.2 miles to the legendary Whitney Pocket Dam site and got out to take a look see. I haven't visited this dam since the first time I visited Gold Butte back in November 2007. Still the same. A nice bit of engineering! This was a great day of exploring then we returned to a rainy and snowy day in Las Vegas.

3.6 miles; 800 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours; average moving speed 1.4 mph

Whitney Wash flowing out toward Gold Butte Road

Arriving at the Trailhead

Whitney Pocket Dam Visit

Trough that used Water Piped in from the Dammed Pocket

Elaborate Whitney Pocket Dam

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Paradise Peak / Horse Spring & Corral (Gold Butte NM) - 1/12/19

View from Paradise Peak (Virgin Peak & Mud Hills)

Horse Spring Corral

Paradise Ridge, Peak & Route

Trail begins along Fence (Tramp Ridge in Background)
 This is a double hike; two short hikes providing two opposite views of the Gold Butte NM, high and low, in a wild and rough yet beautiful area. The hike's trailhead is located 13.7 miles down New Gold Butte Road from Whitney Pocket; where the pavedish road changes to dirt. To make things easier, the trailhead is on the right, exactly after a cattle guard. When you are parked here looking along the road in the direction you were going, Paradise Peak is over your right shoulder at a 4 o'clock direction. And, Horse Spring and Corral are at your 9 o'clock down past the colorful rock. From Las Vegas, it takes approximately 2 hours to get to this trailhead.

Trail crossing over Fence (Tramp Ridge in Background)
 Eight hikers in two HCVs, (a sedan would take more time), arrived here after making a short stop at the toilet placed at Whitney Pocket. All were in agreement that the ride was very long!

Small Points of Interest
 Regardless of the length of time it took us to get there, a beautiful adventure was in store. I had not pre-hiked either hikes but my research suggested that they were fairly straight forward.

Climbing the Steep Section

Last Hiker Up to Curved Ridge
 Although it is always an excellent idea to watch out for cryptobiotic soil, we were able to cut out the damage pretty well by staying on burro trails, in washes and finding previously tromped terrain. Finding a trail that ran along a barbed wire fence, we started up. Eventually, we came to where the trail crossed the fence where the fence is broken down. Instead of continuing here, we decided to backtrack a few feet and follow a different trail that went up to the ridge to our left. This was our side trip along this shorter ridge then down a wash and into the canyon between our ridge and Paradise Ridge. The canyon is very nice and we enjoyed our break from the proposed route.

Climbing the Ridge Curve (Paradise Ridge in Foreground)
 Going down the canyon, we ran into the fence again and climbed up on the hillside to the left. Quickly, we reconnected with the track on my GPS and began the steepest section of the route climbing up to the crest of the trailing ridge.

Starting along the Main Ridge
 Once on Paradise Ridge, we began an easy climb up the trailing ridge and turned a soft corner onto the main ridge above. Still not really knowing what to expect, we began our climb.

Slope on Other Side above Valatier Wash

Climbing the First False Peak
 Oh! Did someone mention that there were several (3 to be exact) false peaks before you reach the real Paradise Peak? Um. Must have missed that part! Anyway, up we went already getting fabulous views from our perches. The colorful East and West Mud Hills were a prominent feature as was Virgin Peak. Further to the east, Arizona sported the Grand Wash cutting down toward the south. On the other side, the steep slope down from Paradise Ridge to Valatier Wash and then to a high reaching Tramp Ridge was forbidding but not particularly dangerous. So, the first false peak, nicknamed Sitting Rocks, came and we thought we had reached the high point!

Second & Third False Peaks
 Nope. Aw. Well, the following saddle was easily negotiated and we continued. Yep. We could see two more peaks from here. Onward.

Mining Claim on Second False Peak
 On the second false peak, we came to an old mining claim cairn. In it, we found a tin can with a plastic covered something in it. We never found out what the "something" was since just touching the plastic caused it to fall into shreds. We stopped touching quickly!

The Last Climb

 The next two saddles proved to be easy as well and, finally, we found ourselves climbing the actual peak! Yes, the view didn't change much from beginning to end but I would not have gotten the panoramas in this entry had we not persevered. And, fine panoramas, they are!
 Since we had left one hiker down on the trailing ridge, we decided to take our photos then return to him. We hiked along the narrow ridge all the way down past the false peaks and around the ridge curve. After we picked up the last hiker, we continued carefully down the steep section and stopped in the canyon wash for our break.

Wide View from Summit of Paradise Peak
 After a nice break out of any errant breezes, we found the continuation of the trail that we had missed coming out. Shortly, we reached the fence crossover and returned along the visible trail along the fence.

Starting down the Curved Ridge Portion
 Near the trailhead, one carload decided to abandon the hike. Exploring out in the middle of nowhere isn't for everyone! The other carload was ready for more adventure!

Descending the Steep Section

A Break in the Canyon
At the trailhead, there is an old abandoned road that is lined with rocks. It appeared that, at one time, this roadway had been scraped and left the rocks pushed to the side. We needed to go on down Gold Butte Road a little further so we used this abandoned road as a trail. When the road came to a large wash, we turned left to go down the side of the wash. At Gold Butte Road, we crossed and found a burro trail to the right of a medium sized wash leading down into the confluence of several small washes and an old road that begins further to the right. Finding the burro trail was like finding a pot of gold!

Trail Approaches the Fence Crossing
 Knowing burros like water ... it didn't take a lot of thinking to know the trail would lead us directly to the spring! We didn't even worry when a couple of burro trails forked off. We followed our trail all the way down.

Starting along the Abandoned Road near Trailhead (& Tramp Ridge)
 When we got to the huge wash confluence, there were tire tracks coming from the old road. Everything appeared to be well cared for. All the fresh animal tracks that we had seen on our way down were going in the opposite direction so there were no animals around that we saw.

Finding a Perfect Burro Path to the Spring & Corral

The Burro Path
 We followed the tracks around a corner and found the spring. There was quite a lot of water flowing in the spring. There was also a lot of algae and moss. We took a couple of photos but, wisely, did not stick our fingers in the water. Did you know that just touching spring water in a riparian environment can pollute it? So many animals depend on this water. BTW, we spotted a wildlife camera hidden in the trees here. Behave yourselves!
 So, we turned around and headed to the corral. Wow! What a fancy corral! Built with wood and rocks with every cow comfort you can imagine!

Enjoying the Path
 We all enjoyed looking around at the bit of history. Up on the hill in the near distance, we saw a rock wall snaking its way down. Could this have been part of what helped the cowboys corral the livestock?

Nearing the Spring & Corral
 There is a way you can go inside the corral and feel like one of the cows! We took plenty of photos.

Horse Spring guarded by a Camera

Well-fed Tree
 Finished with the corral and spring, we rounded the rock corner on the way out. A wash follows basically along the rock wall and, yes, burro hoof prints were seen here, too. We followed those wonderful beasts up the wash and finally up the hillside to the trailhead. This part of the double hike only took us one hour so it was a nice little finish to the day. Except, of course, a required stop at the Devil's Throat sinkhole! It was a long fun day ... an exhausting day with all the driving. Beautiful. Interesting. And, ... in the middle of nowhere!

5.5 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours; average moving speed 1.6 mph

The Old Elaborate Corral

Starting up the Wash next to the Wall on the Return

Following Burro Path in the Wash back to Trailhead

A Short Visit to Devil's Throat

Devil's Throat