Saturday, January 29, 2011

Anniversary Narrows Photo Essay - 1/29/11

Forty- five of the Around the Bend Friends travelled up Northshore Road out at Lake Mead, today, to mile marker 16. This is the trailhead for Anniversary Mine and Narrows. Because of a washed out road, we began the hike from Hwy 167 and hiked the dirt approach road. Reaching the main wash, we divided into two groups. One group hiked up the hill to the old mining camp foundation. The other group hiked on up the wash to wait for the first group where they would come back down.

Together again, we hiked up the wash to the Narrows and enjoyed one of the most beautiful slot canyons around. The photos below show some of the canyon which is about 1/3 of a mile long. There were photo opportunities at every turn showing how water has carved out the slot. This is a major wash which feeds into the slot and rainwater continues to sculpt the sandstone and gypsum veined with copper.

After taking our lunch break at the cold end of the slot, we hiked back through and returned to the cars via the main wash all the way to the highway. At the road, it was necessary to hike down the road for about a quarter mile to MM16.

This elevation chart reflects the hike today without the hike up to the camp foundation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Club Member's Travels (Bryce Canyon) - 1/24/11

Recently, Cindy W. travelled to Bryce Canyon to take pictures of the snow and ice among the hoodoos. She was over- whelmed with the beauty. Icicles adorned the cliffs. Sunrises and sunsets were out of this world. ... And, not a soul around ... almost. She drove down the road that goes through the park and also took a hike down through the hoodoos.

Cindy does a great job with her photography and we are always happy to show off her work. Thanks Cindy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Valley of Fire Slot Canyons - 1/22/11

Wow! Today's hike was the most beautiful and photogenic three mile hike that we have done in, at least, a month or two! Valley of Fire was seen today by forty- two hikers in all its glory of color and sculpture. There were several points at which our breath was taken away as we gazed in awe at the creation of sand, seas, and wind.

Led by Brian, our club's Valley of Fire expert, we began today's hike at the second parking lot after the Rainbow Vista parking lot on the road that goes into the park from the Visitor's Center. Heading into the sandstone to the east of the road, we were immediately engulfed by the colorful surroundings.

The yellows, pinks, oranges, reds and whites were all about as we watched a large hawk or falcon fly from a high cliff above. The sandstone gaped with holes. Colorful swirls swam under our feet. Several photographers from our large group flitted about here there and everywhere while looking for the best angle to capture the obvious targets.

The rest of the group descended casually down to a small canyon which would provide entertain- ment for the morning. Here, there would be several sections of slots that we would hike through. After a small break, we began threading through the slots. The color continued, now augmented by interesting sandstone formations carved out by rainwater.

The canyon snaked for over a mile. There are a few sections where one can reach from one side of the canyon to the other. Around half way through, we crossed the road and headed back into the canyon on the other side. Photographers were busy scrambling up the sides of the canyon to capture photos of the hikers.

Eventually, we came to a junction with the White Domes Trail where an old movie set still sits on the rock. We took a minute for those hikers who had not seen the movie set to take pictures and return to the canyon. From here, we continued up the canyon and entered a much larger slot canyon which is part of the White Domes Trail.

After emerging from the large slot canyon, instead of continuing to the right on the White Domes Trail, we climbed up to the left. We left the canyon and headed into a desert wash among the colorful hills. Red rock hills were off to our right but we stayed in the white colors wondering why the colors seemed to be grouped here and there.

At the high point of our hike, we stopped and took our snack break. We peppered the surrounding rocks and talked about champagne, clothes and recent trips while the photogs ran around finding more pics. The sun had come out which provided a lot more photographic opportunities.

With only a mile left to go, we continued up the wash until we found the correct left turn that would return us to our cars. As we came around a bend on this wash, we were stunned to meet the view seen in the first photo. It was gorgeous! We would like to thank Brian for his excellent choice of a hike today at the Valley of Fire. Also, we would like to say that we always enjoy Brian's leadership when coordinating a hike.

One more right turn took us up hill then down and around a corner where we could see our cars about a quarter of a mile away. This blogger hopes that you enjoyed the photos. She couldn't bear to leave many out of the entry. Thanks Brian.

                              Brian Dodd's Valley of Fire Hikes (Nov. 2012)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Valley of Fire Scramble - 1/20/11

There were twenty- eight hikers on today's hike in the Valley of Fire State Park. We converged on the parking lot at the eastern entrance of the park which has a small trail up to a rock formation called Elephant Rock. Foregoing the side trip up to this elephant, we began by heading out another trail there called the Arrowhead Trail.

The hike was expected to be 5 miles long, 5 hours, with 5 major uphill climbs. We managed to hike the scramble in around 4 hours. The first three major climbs were completed in the first hour. Wondering what we would do for the remaining time of the hike, we faithfully followed our leader, Brian, who was about the only hiker who knew exactly where we were at all times.

The second climb gave us our high point for the day. We came off of the third climb all the way down to a major sandy wash, seen below. This is the main Valley of Fire wash. It was wide and filled with deep sand. One hiker could not resist making a sand angel while lying on his back in the wash.

Before we hiked out of the wash, we passed the place where a large arch used to be seen up on the cliff about forty feet up. It crumbled last year some time but there are many other arches to be found in Valley of Fire. This was a place where one hiker was inspired to pose for a glamour shot upside down on the red sandstone.

Beginning another major climb which would end up where we would have lunch, the scrambling continued through small washes, up and over red sandstone and up steep climbs. Many of us tried finding routes which would keep us on solid rock instead of struggling through the large scree which might cause slips and falls. For sure, there were plenty of ways to skin this cat of a hike!

For some reason ... not really sure why ... the large rock in the photo to the left reminded the writer of that movie, "2001: A Space Odyssey." All we needed were a bunch of chimpanzees! Anyway, ... we went up and down and up and down, finding that we were in condition for the rhythm of the hike.

After our break, we began another descent. In the photo to the left, one can see the narrow squeeze between two boulders. Even our smallest hiker, Carol, had a fun time trying to get through the tiny opening! The rapid descents of the hike included several instances where it was necessary to sit on the edge of a three foot cliff and reach down with your feet to the best purchase we could find. Hey! Who's going to complain about the small rest that's built into this technique? As you can see high up in the next photo, this technique is widely used and very effective!

During this part of the hike, a sweet scent filled the air at different times. We finally decided that the smell was coming from the ephedra (Mormon Tea) on the hillside where we were. These bushes were turning bright green and probably had been tricked into believing that spring is just around the corner with all of the warm weather we have been having lately.

The line of twenty- eight hikers normally spread out some distance, however, the group stayed together for the entire hike. This is something that we have struggled with in recent hikes. Perhaps today's hike was kept together because none of us knew the trail that Brian had taken the time to blaze and mentally record in recent months. As for other hikes, it is difficult to keep the cows together when they know where the barn is ... or something like that!

Saving the best point of interest for last, we approached the final major climb which was a very large sand dune filled with small scrub bushes and ephedra. On the ascending side of the dune was Dumbo's sister, the Sitting Elephant Rock seen in the photo above. We got our pictures of the rock formation then trudged up the sand, over the saddle, and down to the floor of the desert. From here, it was a straight shot to the cars that we could see about 3/4 of a mile away. Thanks Brian for a great morning of scrambling.

                              Brian Dodd's Valley of Fire Hikes (Nov. 2012)