Monday, February 26, 2018

Grand Gold Butte Petroglyph Hike (with some club history) - 2/25/18

Newspaper Rock

Valley of Fire and Spring Mountains from Falling Man TH

Old Joshua Tree and Black Butte

Signs along Gold Butte Road
 In the fall of 2007, original members of the Around the Bend Friends who helped UNLV found the club ten years prior to the Blackwells and the Dempseys joining, took a trip up to Gold Butte. Participants included Bob & Patty, Judy G., Cee, Keith M., Guy, Howard and John & Kay Blackwell. At that time, Gold Butte was a far away place that only real adventurers traveled to in their big trucks, jeeps and ... yes, a certain orange Element. The roads were even more bumpy and there were no parking corrals.

First Scramble
 During our tour, which was mostly driving on those crazy roads, we drove right up to the Falling Man entrance hole, right up to the bridge/tunnel that leads to the pond overlook, right up to the Subway entrance, and right up to the clearing below Little Finland. Oh yeah, there was also Devil's Hole!

First Petroglyph Panel
 There was so much that we missed by not hiking but the day was absolutely magical.

Anne emerges from the Birth Canal Tunnel

The Petroglyph Tower
 That day, John and I fell in love with Nevada hiking ... even though ... or maybe because ... our Element got stuck on the hill coming up from the Subway and had to be rescued by Bob's truck. BTW, this is the reason that there is now a parking corral at the top of this hill! We were not the only ones to get stuck. That day, we were introduced to a small part of what the backcountry in Nevada offered. History, mystery, sandstone, beauty, solitude and really fresh air. This trip was what prompted me to start the Around the Bend Friends Hiking Club of Las Vegas blog that you are now reading.

Tony emerges from the Falling Man Window
 This particular blog, the original, has since been removed from public viewing along with all the blogs of 2007 and 2008 due to a certain club member that shall remain nameless here, pitching a fit about his photo being on it. (Ah, the old days.)

It's okay, Rita. Falling Man won't fall on you.
 So, in 2009, the blog was restarted and the archives included in the list on the right side of this page start there. (I still have access to the old blogs written previous to 2009.)

Virgin Peak peeks out from Falling Man Sandstone

Pothole Alley
 From 2008 to 2010, trips to Gold Butte were rare. And, we never hiked beyond the beaten paths of old. It was frustrating for us since John and I knew that there was so much more to see up there. So acting on a suggestion in 2011, John and I began explorations of two areas to create hikes that take in more than the most famous sights. During the following months, we hiked around, explored, searched, camped and repeated. It is somewhat humorous that we "found" the Kohta Circus panel by accident! We didn't know it was there and in such an out of the way place.

The Three Level Panel of Petroglyphs
 After that trip, we came home and looked it up! Then, anxious to share what we knew, we offered our first hike to the club membership. The Grand Gold Butte Petroglyph Hike was born in early 2012.

Using the Trail to Cross the Desert
 During the following year, we explored and created the Little Finland & Subway Hike. This trek was born in early 2013.

Zigzagging down to 21 Sheep Wall

21 Sheep Wall
 Over the years, Bob and Patty got big into ATV off roading, Judy and Cee moved on, and Mike M. became a Boy Scouts OA commissioner. Other original members such as Howard, Marg, Guy, Mac & Cynthia, Judy G., Cee, Mike J. and Keith M. stayed with the club for a while then moved on. The Around the Bend Friends has survived over the years due to people that have fallen in love with Nevada hiking through the club. There are several volunteers who drive the club to continue to be one of the best hiking alternatives in southern Nevada.

Black Butte rises at end of Pond Wash
 So, yet another banner attendance day for the club, twenty-one hikers made the day trip up to Gold Butte for the Grand Gold Butte Petroglyph Hike starting at the Falling Man Trailhead on Black Butte Road. We passed the Bundy Ranch and the new Gold Butte National Monument sign.

Dammed Pond (Shallow Today)
 Finally, five high clearance cars of hikers emptied out after a 2 hour drive (the last 25 miles of which were extremely bumpy) and readied for their adventure.

Exiting Sandstone near Pond (Note: Small Arch Landmark)

Staying on Sandstone as much as Possible
 The first 1.5 miles of the hike covers a popular tourist route from Falling Man to the dammed Pond. There is a large concentration of petroglyphs found among the colorful sandstone here. We enjoyed a little scrambling as we viewed the different panels. Virgin Peak watched from afar as we left the Falling Man petroglyph area and followed the trail. There were no Bundy cows around, however, we did see a lot of cow "evidence" as we passed the 21 Sheep Wall and neared the Pond. The pond had some water in it but it was nowhere near as full as we have previously seen. From the Pond, we headed through the sandstone maze and came out at the Small Arch Landmark.

The Kohta Circus Road
 Next, we followed use trails across the sand and past the "Joshua Tree Nursery." The baby Joshua Trees have grown a lot since we named this landmark.

Trail through Deep Wash
 From here, we reached sandstone and tried to stay on the white rock for as long as possible until we intersected with the Kohta Circus Road, an old sand road that is no longer used for vehicle travel.

Kohta Circus Wall from Trail Above

Newbie Liz enjoys the Spectacle
 A left turn on the road sent us trudging through the sand to a large rock mound where the trail turns off to the right. A more or less straight shot across the sandstone put us on one of about 3 different trails that lead over to the Kohta Circus drop. It is important to find one of these trails so that a particular deep wash crossing is enabled. Following the trail, we kept on a trajectory toward the last "pointy" peak of the sandstone ridge to our right. Openings in the ridge showed views of redstone beyond. This red rock is very near the Little Finland area in the distance.

Panorama of Portion of Kohta Circus
 When we found ourselves above a large deep area, we could look across and see the Kohta Circus wall. Its petroglyphs were still too far away to decipher.

Lettie takes a Break above the Small Slot
 The group followed the trail around and down into the deep wide area. We had our snack break taking in the largest petroglyph panel in Clark County. It is officially 75' x 4'.

Hikers enjoy the Small Slot

Leaving Kohta Circus and Small Slot Area
 While we were in this area, we also took a short trip down to the small slot canyon nearby. It was dry so some of us enjoyed the scramble through its walls. After the break, we followed the trail to the other end of the deep large area, entered a small canyon and climbed up the other end. We came out at a wash that we dropped into, turned right for a few feet, then turned left into an obscured slot. Fun fun slot! The Slot! One by one, we climbed up through the slot using legs and arms for the effort. (Beware: There is one large rock that moves if you use it with a lot of strength.)

Scramble Up
 At the top of the slot, the group continued on in a 1:00 direction until we intersected once again with the Kohta Circus Road. (Same place that we left it before.)

The Slot
 The return route follows the road on around taking in sights of the very old Joshua Trees in the area.

Heading back across Desert

Return to the Pond
 Hitting a wash, we turned to the right and began a bushwhack across the desert at an angle to the left. Soon, we were at the Joshua Tree Nursery. From there, we returned the same way we had come. It is a hard climb back up to the Falling Man Trailhead and we were pushing the pace a little much through the sand. Just wanted to get out of the sand, I guess. It had been a gorgeous day for hiking and, once again, the Grand Gold Butte Petroglyph Hike was very well received.

7.2 miles; 1000 feet elevation gain; 5 hours of hiking; 2 hours of driving one way

Return to 21 Sheep Wall

Return to Pothole Alley

Back way Return to Falling Man Entrance

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Rainbow Canyon (Pt to Pt) - 2/24/18

Rainbow Canyon

Overlook Saddle of Rainbow Ridge

Nubby Knob

Hiking from Trailhead to Lovell Wash
 A tiny trace of a mineral within the "glue" of sandstone (i.e. silica, iron oxides or calcium carbonate) can produce vivid color in the rock. And, that's what today's hike was full of ... vivid color! Another red letter day for the Around the Bend Friends, twenty hikers came out for a hike through Rainbow Canyon with a finale of a new route up and over a very promising saddle and following wash. Promising a shortish hike, we decided to make today a point to point that began at Northshore Road's MM 16 and ended at MM 14. With twenty hikers and a lot of cars, the mathematicians' brains overheated in the preparation stage! In the end, we had eight drivers, so we placed two cars at MM 14.

Entrance to Rainbow Canyon
 The first test of the hike came immediately. We had to climb up and over the berm that lines the parking lot and Callville Wash on the other side.

Dropping down to Lovell Wash
 Next, we found a small wash across the large wash that led us up to the top terrain, past the Nubby Knob and through a few shallow arroyos.

Approaching Rainbow Canyon

Rainbow Canyon
 Reaching Lovell Wash, we found a convenient descent wash that was pretty easy to negotiate. Already, Rainbow Canyon had caught our eye. We made sure that all twenty hikers had made it down then we turned to the right and hiked up a short distance to the entrance to Rainbow Canyon. (It's hard to miss!) We turned into the canyon and were immediately surrounded by, as promised, vivid colors. Lots of photos! We hiked up the easy beautiful wash and soon came to the old mine shaft.

Approaching Old Mine Shaft
 The mine shaft is deep. We don't know how deep but on a previous hike someone dropped their hiking stick in it. It is presumably still there.

Hiking Rainbow Canyon
 There used to be a fence surrounding the deep pit but no more. Should be though.

Visiting Old Mine Shaft

Rainbow Canyon & Rainbow Ridge Above
 After our careful fun and games at the mine, we continued up the wash. The color starts fading very slowly and, eventually, an old road lying in the wash becomes apparent. Our route changed from following the wash to following the road. (Really, we were following horse hoof prints!) The old road begins to climb on a gradual slope. Be careful not to drift off the main drag. If you pass a pile of old rusted cans, you are still on track. This is probably where the miners of years back spent their evenings after a day of work at the original Anniversary Mine nearby.

Hiking Rainbow Canyon
 We drifted off the main drag twice then corrected ourselves. One of those times, we found a large cairn, possibly a mining claim.

Less Color nearing Old Road
 On the road again ... 😁 ... we followed the rutted rocky tracks until we junctioned with what appeared to be a main usable dirt road.

Climbing Old Road

Snow on Griffith Peak in Distance
 This is the Anniversary Mine Road and it appeared to have been traveled regularly. We weren't on this road long before we had to turn down to the left on a much more rugged road. Now, we were approaching the Lower Rainbow Canyon. Right away, we were on the lookout for a way to climb out up to the left. We took the first climb out but should have waited longer. It mattered not. Now, on top of the terrain at the base of Rainbow Ridge, we hiked overland to a known rock outcropping and slot canyon in the distance. Since we climbed out of the wash too early, we had to cross a deep arroyo on the way.

On Main Road for a Short Distance
 We separated into two groups. One group headed for the scramble slot where there is an interesting dry fall at the end.

Dropping toward Lower Rainbow Canyon
 The other group continued overland going up and over the hill next to the slot. We made our way to the bottom of the dry fall that the first group began descending one by one.

Slot Scramblers head toward the Slot

Overland Hikers descending to Dry Fall of Slot
 About half of the scramble group made the interesting descent. The other half climbed out the side of the slot and came down to join everyone for a snack break. The limestone rock outcropping that creates the slot is an unusual bit of geology for this locale. It is more akin to the Bird Spring Formation than the Horse Spring Formation. After a pleasant break, we continued down the wash that became a bit brushy. We side stepped the wash whenever we could on use and game trails. The trail that we were on curved around the end of a trailing ridge then veering to the left, up we went.

Slot Scramblers descend the Dry Fall at the End
 Next time, we should probably get off the trail and drop into the ascent wash that we were paralleling.

Taking a Break at the bottom of the Slot
 Up on the side terrain, we had to deal with a couple of arroyos then, nearing the saddle, we used a rocky wash to drop into the ascent wash anyway.

Leaving Slot to Hike Around Corner

Nearing the Overlook Saddle
 We finished the climb to the Overlook Saddle in the small wash and were blessed with a gorgeous display of color and geology! See the second photo of this entry. The view was fantastic! We could also see our route down to the main wash that flows beside Northshore Road. We were exactly where we needed to be to drop into a wash that appeared to flow smoothly all the way down. Still, this was our first exploration of this wash and we were keeping our fingers crossed that there were no non-negotiable dry falls in our path. We started down the wash and every time we turned a sharp corner, we peered anxiously. There was no need for concern. The wash was, in fact, smooth. We had loads of fun dropping down through the colors and formations between walls covered with crytobiotic soil. We were very careful not to destroy that living soil. Every corner required a photo!

Enjoying the Smooth Wash Descent
 Nearing the bottom, the terrain flattened. We emerged from a fork and then another fork.

Color Everywhere!
 If you wanted to reverse the track, it would be necessary to know your route since there would be a few forks to contend with.

Exiting a Wash Fork

Color Again!
 Finally, we merged with the main wash very near the MM 13 Trailhead of Northshore Road. Turning to the left, we continued enjoying colorful views then came to the familiar culvert that would take us underneath the highway to the other side. Continuing down the really red walled wash, we came to the first opening on the left side that allowed hiking. This is the exit wash that would take us to the MM 14 Trailhead pullout. Reaching the embankment of the highway above, we exited to the left.

Exiting to Main Wash
 All the drivers jumped in the two cars and drove back to MM 16 to pick up the cars. Then they came back to MM 14 to pick up the remaining hikers.

Main Wash (Muddy Creek Formation)
 The new route was very well received and all agreed that it was a beautiful day! What a great group of happy explorers!

Approaching the Culvert

Step Carefully!
 An option to this hike is a 6.5 to 7 mile loop starting and ending at MM 15. It would be suggested to hike to Lovell Wash and continue up that wash to the entrance of Rainbow Canyon. Then, to return after the culvert, use the second large wash to turn left and follow this all the way back to MM 15. A bit longer hike avoiding the point to point car shuffle ... uh, shuttle. But the "meat" of the hike is really in the previously described 5.5 miles.

5.3 miles; 750 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Hiking down to Left Turn

Rainbow Ridge from Exit Wash

Climbing up to Northshore Road to Positioned Cars at MM 14