Saturday, November 27, 2010

Arnight Knoll Loop (also, Grapevine Springs) - 11/27/10

Eleven hikers gathered for the 8:30am hike on the Arnight Knoll Loop. The hike to Grapevine Springs had approxi- mately fifteen participants for the 8am hike. Although both hikes lead along the base of the Red Rock escarpment, the Grapevine Springs are located on the southern end in Cottonwood Valley and the Arnight Knoll Loop begins out of the Oak Creek Trailhead parking lot which is at mile marker 12 on the Red Rock Scenic Loop.

We hiked out the Arnight Trail through the desert. The washes we crossed were decorated with different colored small boulders. The backlighting of the sun made the forest of cholla appear like a morning dream. The temperature was quite cold but the mix of sun and no wind had us shedding layers of clothing within about thirty minutes into the hike.

Picking up a spur trail to the left which headed straight into the mouth of Juniper Canyon, we cut off a small portion of the traditional route for the hike as seen on the map below.

We quickly picked up the Knoll Trail and began our trek back across the desert but, this time, closer to the base of the escarpment. After our break among the boulders, we continued to the Oak Creek Trail. Here, we made a decision to continue across and dip down to the Oak Creek area adding an extra loopty-loo exploration to the traditional route. We found our way back up to Oak Creek Trail and continued back to the parking lot for a 3.25 mile hike.

Above, you see today's hike indicated by the blue line and the traditional route of the Arnight Knoll Loop hike indicated by the red line.

This is one route for the Grapevine Springs hike which may or may not have been used for today's hike.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Holiday Wishes

To update the recent hikes: Thursday's hike to Brownstone Canyon was a successful journey to the pictographs and around Turtlehead. Saturday's hikes were cancelled due to inclement weather. Happy Turkey Day!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Blue Diamond Bike Trails (also, Ash Canyon Overlook) - 11/13/10

The Blue Diamond Bike Trails utilize part of the Old Spanish Trail. This marker (below) is found on a small hill up to the west side of the trail on the stretch from Blue Diamond to Highway 160. Wikipedia has this to say in its introduction of the old trade route.

"The Old Spanish Trail is a historical trade route which connected the northern New Mexico settlements near or in Santa Fe, New Mexico with that of Los Angeles, California and southern California. Approximately 1,200 mi (1,900 km) long, it ran through areas of high mountains, arid deserts, and deep canyons. It is considered one of the most arduous of all trade routes ever established in the United States. Explored, in part, by Spanish explorers as early as 1776, the Trail saw extensive use by pack trains from about 1830 until the mid-1850s."

Wikipedia continues, "The name of the trail comes from the publication of John C. Frémont’s Report of his 1844 journey for the U.S. Topographical Corps. guided by Kit Carson from California to New Mexico. The name acknowledges the fact that parts of the trail had been known to the Spanish since the seventeenth century. Frémont's report named a trail that had already been in use for about 15 years. The trail is significant to New Mexico history, because it established an arduous but usable trade route with California."

Today, twenty- six hikers only did a tiny portion of the Old Spanish Trail which amounted to about half a mile! The rest of the hike winded its way around, up and over the hills between the little town of Blue Diamond and Highway 160. The Red Rock Canyon NCA escarpment and Cottonwood Valley were in view for most of the hike. (So was one of either Highway 160 or 159 able to be seen.)

After twisting and turning with the bike trail as we climbed the most prominent hill, we stopped on a grouping of boulders (seen below) to take our break and have a snack. Our view of the escarpment to the west is seen above. We could also see part of the Las Vegas Strip over the gypsum mine to the northeast. To the left, there is a photo of the blogger and photographer. Everyone is always saying she needs to put pictures of herself on the website. Well, here it is!

Leaving our perch on the boulders, we began our hike back down to Blue Diamond. We circled around to descend through a long canyon. There are two choices of return trails. One leads down the left or north side of the canyon and one leads down the right or south side of the canyon. Today, we chose the south side which is nice because it follows under the cliffs and is in shadow for part of the way.

We looked and looked for the herd of burros that live in this area of Red Rock Canyon NCA. Many times, they have been spotted from this particular trail. However, today, we didn't find any burros ... only the second part of our group of hikers as seen in the photo to the left.

The photo above shows Blue Diamond as seen from the descending portion of the trail. The hike was approximately 5.3 miles in length and lasted 2.5 hours. The weather was perfect even though the hike began on the slightly chilly side.

This is the GPS map which shows the trails which are used for a Blue Diamond Bike Trails hike. Today, most of us returned from snack rock on the trail which leads below the cliffs (option #2) then crossed straight to the parking lot on the alternate route.

Above are the GPS waypoint map and elevation chart for the Ash Canyon Overlook hike. I heard a rumor that the hike today was going beyond the traditional route. Therefore, this map and chart may not reflect the exact route taken today.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Black Velvet Canyon - 11/11/10

Black Velvet Canyon is found between Black Velvet Peak and Monument Peak along the escarpment of the Red Rock Canyon NCA. The hike begins on the Late Night Trail found on the north side of Highway 160 at Cottonwood Valley. It was here that twenty hikers from the Around the Bend Friends began the 7.75 mile, 4.5 hour hike. We hiked around the small hill found on the north side of the parking lot and through the desert on fairly flat terrain.

We crossed two or three washes that provided a small amount of down and up then reached the dirt parking lot for Black Velvet Canyon. There were several cars parked here. Rock climbers enjoy the walls of this canyon. When we dropped down into the mouth of the canyon, we could see the climbers high up on the wall to our left. They appeared as ants, very small. One climber had a red coat on so we used him to keep track of them while we bouldered our way up through the canyon which was filled with humongous boulders. As we scrambled, updates on the climbers were called out along the line periodically.

Although the distance we climbed within the canyon was not far, it was far enough to give us a good workout among the rocks. We went as far as the rope (seen below) and sat down for a snack. A couple of us tried our hand at climbing the roped wall. While we were resting, another group of rock climbers lithely went by. They didn't use the rope but climbed up to the next level on the rock up to our left.

After our break, we returned down through the canyon via a little used trail up on the Black Velvet side of the wash. Eventually, we had to come back down to the wash and we made our way back to the approach trail. We turned right onto the Black Velvet Bike Trail, crossed onto the Late Night Trail and circled around the initial hill on the opposite side from which we began the hike. Even though the hike had a lot of flatness involved, we all agreed that the distance and tough bouldering made up for the lack of elevation change in the desert portions of our hike.

As a footnote: A news story was just released that human remains (a spine) were found "near" the Black Velvet Canyon area around 2:30pm by the rock climbers. Our group had returned to the parking area and left around 1pm. (We were all accounted for.)

The photo above was placed on a TV website. It was presumably taken by one of the rock climbers we saw on the wall. Pretty creepy, huh? In the story, they said the spine was found wrapped in a shirt further up in the canyon from where we stopped our climb. They are investigating the find for any possibilities.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bryce Canyon - 10/18/10

During October 17, 18 and 19, Ann coordinated an excursion up to southern Utah. On the first day, they explored Bryce Canyon on a cold and rainy day. However, the weather increased the show of color throughout the canyon and these pictures that Carl took are beautiful.

This is formation called Thor's Hammer.

Pronghorn antelope were spotted in a small herd on the way to Escalante where the group of twenty-one hiked to Calf Creek Falls as seen below. Thank you Carl for your pictures.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Krafft Mtn / Gateway Cyn Loop (Also, Ice Box Cyn) - 11/06/10

Today, the Around the Bend Friends had two hikes to accomplish. The hike that left at 8am was the Krafft Mountain Loop which takes the hiker through Gateway Canyon, a beautiful sandstone canyon colored with red stripes and polka dots. All of these photos were taken last Tuesday early in the morning as the sun was just reaching the canyon walls. There was only a little water which had collected in small puddles throughout the canyon. And, the hike was around 5 miles. The route taken today may or may not have followed the GPS route shown below.

The other hike the Around the Bend Friends did was Ice Box Canyon which began at 8:30am. This is a 3 mile journey into a cool canyon of the escarpment which dead ends at a tall and beautiful dry waterfall. The blogger does not have the statistics for either of these hikes but if someone would like to comment below, we would like to know how many people attended each of these hikes and what made the hike different from the rest. ...There's always something!

Krafft Mountain Loop route.

Elevation chart for Ice Box Canyon.
Ice Box Canyon route.