Saturday, November 28, 2009

Arnight - Knoll Loop - 11/28/09

Twenty-nine club members hiked the Arnight - Knoll Loop Trail today which starts at the parking area for the Oak Creek Trail located just past mile marker 12 of the 13-mile Red Rock Scenic Loop Road. It is a desert hike at the foothills of the Escarpment just under Rainbow Peak and crosses the wash which comes out of Juniper Canyon. Also in view, in the distance, during the last half of the hike is Potato Knoll.

The 3-mile desert hike is a relatively easy trail, however, the path is filled with rocks which have to be negotiated. It is a good hike for hip muscles as the hiker is constantly swerving this way or that way to keep their balance among the rocks.

The trail is decorated with an abundance of chollas, yuccas, sandstone boulders and several juniper trees here and there. The juniper trees are covered with their blue berries and they add to the desert's color.

As the trail headed into Red Rock Canyon, there were beautiful views of the Calico Hills, Turtlehead Peak and the La Madre Mountain Range. Dark clouds hovered above the view and were heading our way. The air was crisp and the forecast included a few showers for the afternoon.

Juniper Canyon is seen in the distance to the right.

During our break, we saw three burros grazing about a quarter of a mile away towards the scenic loop.

After reaching a junction, we turned left to head back toward Potato Knoll as you can see in the distance in the picture to the left. This is the part of the trail which crosses the Juniper Canyon wash. As we hiked by the entrance to the canyon, we heard voices of rock climbers having their fun on the side of the rock walls above. Juniper Canyon is one of the popular locations for the many rock climbers based in Las Vegas.

We could see the parking area and our cars long before we reached them. The final part of the loop hike started with a left turn onto Oak Creek Trail. With Oak Creek Canyon behind us, we headed out on the trail passing many cairns that had been erected recently. The Arnight - Knoll Loop Trail is a nice trail that can be done in as little as 2 hours.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Calico Hills - 11/21/09

There were thirty-five hikers on the 4.5 mile tour of the Calico Hills today. The hike included parts of the Calico I Trail, the Moenkopi Loop Trail, and the Calico II Trail. We also touched on the Grand Circle Trail and the Red Springs Loop Trail. The hiking that the trails at the base of the Calico Hills provides is colorful and interesting.

It is easy to lose yourself in the sandstone even though you never leave sight of the Red Rock Scenic Loop. We began at the new Red Rock Visitor's Center and soon crossed the loop road to climb to the first parking area which is called Calico I. After hiking down from the parking lot to the sandstone, we began hiking at the base of the sandstone up towards the second parking area called Calico II.

This portion of the hike was the most beautiful as we got an up-close and personal examination of the red and white sandstone hills. Just before we reached Calico II, we climbed down into the wash, found a good rock seat and took our break. We were sitting amidst a part of the Red Springs Loop Trail where there is a maze of canyons, slots and scrambling.

From there, we crossed the wash and headed back the way we came using the trail closer to the loop road. We climbed back up to the Calico I parking area then crossed the loop road and used the Calico I and Moenkopi Trails to return to the Visitor's Center. The route we took may seem a little vague, however, there are many trails in this area that are available to take. The weather could not have been better and there was a small breeze that came and went.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fossil Ridge - 11/14/09

Today, the Around the Bend Friends Hiking Club broke a record for attendance on one hike. We had 44 people on the hike around Fossil Ridge on a cool beautiful day at the Red Rock Canyon NCA. The hike began at the horse stables' parking lot and headed up the hill to the right. The large group quickly spread out as the climb of around 600 feet took its toll.

About halfway up the hill, we were able to watch 3 of the horses for hire come through the path we were taking. With the cowboy in the lead, two visitors ambled behind with smiles on their faces from ear to ear. Isn't Las Vegas great? There is so much to see besides the face of a slot machine!

We circled around the ridge as we ascended to the right then took a left turn to come down the ridge on the edge of Echo Canyon. This canyon is a beautiful canyon decorated with dark rock which was made by ancient fissures spewing lava onto the surface above. Within the canyon, and the surrounding canyons, there are many fossils laid into this rock made of limestone and covered with previously molten rock, which then bubbled up making spotted patterns on top of the limestone.

At one point, we neared the edge of the canyon and took our turns at yelling across the "big ditch." Our voices came back to us in about 2 seconds. Thus, the renaming of Fossil Canyon to Echo Canyon.

Returning to the horse stable area, we divided into two groups. One group was finished hiking and ready to exit stage left. The other group of 24 people were still game for a climb into Cave Canyon which lies just past Echo Canyon and shares the same mouth. The climb began again for around a half mile.

We, then, climbed up the side of the canyon wall to a small cave opening and several of us ducked inside. Within the cave, the space was quite large and offered several levels of mystery. After taking our break out on the rocks outside the cave, we returned to the cars with 4.75 miles behind us.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Red Cap - 11/12/09

Nineteen hikers climbed Red Cap today. Red Cap is a hike long in scrambling and short in distance. To add to its exciting features, there were 40 mph wind gusts to add to the constant strong winds that had been predicted for the morning hours at Red Rock Canyon NCA. (Begging your pardon for the blurry pictures added to this blog which were taken in windy conditions without a tripod nor a handy image stabilizer.)

The trail begins at the Sandstone Quarry Parking Area on the Scenic Loop. Taking a left soon after beginning on the Calico Tanks Trail, the Red Cap Trail heads quickly up the sandstone mountain with several steep scrambles involved. The views from the side of the mountain are unmatched. All around are colors and shapes of natural beauty framed by wide open space.

The wind became a huge factor as we neared the top. To be safe, we were all reaching for the nearest rock to hug! There were several lightweight women in the group who threatened to take flight a few times! In the distance, we could see the Las Vegas Strip which was about to be enveloped by a huge dust cloud coming in from the south. We sat on the top of Red Cap for a few minutes before climbing down to take our break.

We climbed down to the water tank level which was more protected from the wind. Here, we took our break and chatted for a few minutes. Afterwards, we explored three tanks which were bone dry. Inside one of the dry tanks, someone had built a rather substantial cairn which we can only assume was pointing out the directions of the compass. They built it tall enough so that when the tank fills with water, it will rise above the surface.

We didn't mess around on the tank level much longer before we headed down to the very large tank that stays dry most of the time. We had to drop down into it then cross the length of it where one solitary yellow flower held strong. From here, we climbed out the other side and headed down the side of the mountain where the winds of Hades hit us square in the face.

We each negotiated the mountain- side carefully. There were a lot of "holding on of hats." Mass Production Wall seemed the best route to take hoping that it would provide some protection from the wind. At the bottom, we were home free on the Calico Tanks Trail.

Collection of Smiles

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ash Canyon Overlook - 11/7/09

Ash Canyon Overlook is a 2.5 mile hike through and around the Calico Hills to reach the top of Ash Canyon where you can sit and take in the view of the canyon and beyond through Calico Basin. The elevation gain of around 250 feet is climbed once or twice depending on how far you go.

We had 38 great hikers attend the excursion today which began on the Calico Tanks Trail at Sandstone Quarry. We turned left at a junctioning wash and continued through the rocks and gravel until we reached two different slot canyons which brought us through the gorgeous sandstone hills to an overview of the Calico Hills and Escarpment beyond. Turtlehead Peak was overlooking our position. That hike was for another day!

We hiked around the sandstone hills with the peak called Red Cap above us and then dropped down to the Ash Canyon saddle below. Many hikers stopped here for a rest. The rest-less hikers went a little further to a second overlook point down the canyon. Wherever you chose to stop, there were views of color and grandeur. (See first picture!) The short hike did not disappoint and we came home happy! ... and maybe a little winded!