Friday, February 28, 2020

Paradise Peak & Horse Spring Corral (Gold Butte NM) - 2/27/20

Tramp Ridge (L), Virgin Peak (C), & Mud Hills (R) from Paradise Peak

Mica Peak from Paradise Ridge

Horse Spring Corral

Paradise Peak Trailhead
 Paradise Peak (3917') is the highest point on Paradise Ridge which rises very close to Tramp Ridge (5262') to the west of Gold Butte Road. The trailhead for the peak is located 13.7 miles down the graded dirt Gold Butte Road from Whitney Pocket passing the spur road to Devil's Throat about midway. There is a sharp bend to the right and a cow grate to mark the spot. Make an immediate right turn to park after crossing the cow grate. There should be a barbed wire fence to the north when you exit your vehicle. Today, ten hikers emerged from their cars and gathered their legs after a long bumpy ride. We were, in fact, what appeared to be "in the middle of nowhere!" This is what paradise looks like!

Canyon Dip (Tramp Ridge in Background)
 To get to Whitney Pocket, exit I-15 at #112 (Riverside Bunkerville) and go east for 3 miles. After crossing the Virgin River, turn right onto Gold Butte Road. Follow the bumpy paved road for around 20 miles. You have arrived at Whitney Pocket. There is a toilet located in the parking lot to the right.

Hiking down to Canyon Dip from Fence Crossing
 When you do finally get to the trailhead, please remember to park only on the dirt. Do not drive over desert foliage!

Climbing up to the Ridge from Dip

Almost to Ridge
We started up the hill near the fence and, soon, a trail appeared. It is small. The trail follows along the fence up the gentle hill toward the dominant ridge in the background. This is Tramp Ridge - named for its journey of 6 miles after breaking off from Azure Ridge found to the southeast. Gold Butte Road travels alongside Tramp Ridge for over 10 miles. Paradise Ridge is part of its complex make-up. The trail comes to where the fence has collapsed and crosses over it. Next, it leads down the hill on a diagonal to the rocky canyon below. We crossed the small canyon then started up the hill on the other side, still on a diagonal trajectory.

Mud Hills and Gold Butte Road from Paradise Ridge
 The steepest part of the whole climb comes next. We set our own little switchbacks to make the climb easier but the object here is to reach the top of the first part of the trailing ridge.

Tramp Ridge from Paradise Ridge
Once on top, turn around and note the direction of the future descent. We used the curve of the distant road for our landmark. The climb continued at an easier rate, up the trailing ridge.

Rita and Ralyn hiking the Ridge among Cacti

Whitney Pocket in Distance
A trail reappears, sort of, as you near the summit ridge. Before you get to the top of the summit ridge, the trail heads in a diagonal direction up to the top. From there, just stay on or near the top of the ridge as you climb up and over a few false peaks. One of these false peaks has a large cairn built on the side. This is one of presumably three mining claim cairns. It was claimed in July of 1968 as the document inside a tobacco can proclaims. The claimer is from Salt Lake City but, other than that, the handwriting is difficult to discern. On another of the false peaks, we discovered a couple of beautifully preserved brachiopod fossils.

Mining Claim
 Another interesting thing about the ridge is its abundance of pineapple and old man cacti as seen in the second photo of this entry.

Found a Nice Fossil on Return
 When we reached the peak, John H. noticed the second of the two mining cairns on the ridge just a little further down. We all went down to look and that's where I took the first photo of the entry.

Taking a Break at the Canyon Dip

Hiking down the Fence Trail
 Paradise laid out before us! From the high Virgin Peak Range to the colorful Mud Hills and over to the Grand Wash and Arizona, the view was vast without a single man made object in viewing range ... except for Gold Butte Road. And, the road was a simple sliver of dirt. We stayed for a few moments then headed down the way we came. When we reached the canyon dip, we stopped for our break. There were several rocks for easy sitting here in a little bit of shade. The weather was perfect but the sun got warm when the breeze wasn't present. From there, we continued up and down the trail toward the cars.

Be vewy vewy kwiet!
 Down the hill, I saw the white rocks that lined the old road over to the right. So, we crossed over the desert terrain to reach the rocks.

Burro Trail down to Horse Spring
 There, desert hares started coming out of the joshua trees and yuccas! Here and there, one or two would hop away. We were left wondering if it was breeding time for the critters.

Following a Burro Trail

Horse Spring
The old road led us to a largish wash. We turned left and followed along the wash and crossed Gold Butte Road. Exactly here, there is a burro trail that heads down toward the terrain "V." Here, all burro trails lead to Horse Spring! And, sure enough, after about 3/4 mile, we hiked into the spring area. The BLM has built a substantial fence structure around the spring pond, most likely to keep animals from trashing the water. They have also cleared a lot of the brush in this area since last year. I didn't see the wildlife camera this time! It's probably somewhere!

Horse Spring Corral and Area
 The Horse Spring Corral sits beneath the cliffs on the opposite side of the wide canyon area. The corral is very fancy and is built with wood and a lot of rocks.

Stone Fence snaking up Hill
 Up the hill on the other side of the canyon is a snaking rock wall. I have it from a good source that the fence is simply a fence. Without access to barbed wire, the ranchers used rocks to achieve their goal of controlling their cattle.

Starting up the Wash next to Wall

Colors along Wash
 Raising cattle was never a lucrative business in the Gold Butte area so ranching died out leaving behind ruins of carefully made corrals all over Gold Butte. We returned to the cars by hiking up the wash next to the colorful wall. There is also a burro trail here that leads the way. This excursion is interesting for history and geology. Today's group of hikers were drinking it in enthusiastically! As icing on the cake, we stopped at the large sinkhole named Devil's Throat on the way back to Whitney Pocket. Great day!

5.2 miles; 1250 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours hike time; 2.5 hours drive time each way

Wash & Burro Trail

Wash & Burro Trail

Devil's Throat Area with New Information Sign

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Blue Point Spring Redstone - 2/24/20

Virgin Peak Arch

Chuck approaches the Mammoth

Redstone Arch

Blue Point Spring drainage to Right
 If you are looking for a fun place to work on your photo composition skills or if you just want a scenic walk through some redstone, Blue Point Spring Redstone just may be the place! If you are willing to make the long drive either up Northshore Road or through Valley of Fire or even down through Overton, Blue Point Spring is located around mile marker 41-42 on Northshore Road. Yep! Waaaay up there! But hey, it is an absolutely beautiful drive! Thirteen hikers made that drive and stopped at Rogers Spring (MM 40) for a restroom break and to look at the fishies in the pond. Got back in the car and drove on up to the next palm tree adorned turnout then readied for our hike.

Following an old Burro Trail to the Redstone
 The hike begins by following a wide trail that leads up along the Blue Point Spring drainage to the right. There are a few places that we could have crossed the water but we chose one just after the huge lone canary palm.

First Arch
 Continuing up, we found a game trail that started us in the direction of Valley of Fire. We could see the state park's sandstone plateau rising to the northwest.

Hikers mill about near First Arch

Terrain around High Point near First Arch
 There are many trails crossing the terrain in this area. They were most likely set down by small herds of burros back in the day when they lived around here. Now, we never see the cute stubborn animals in this area but it wasn't that long ago that they traveled to and from the spring for the desert water. We benefit from their well-surveyed and worn trails. We navigated the many arroyos easily on these trails as they zigged in and out to make the crossings. Soon, we neared the first redstone outcropping. Up to the left, we saw the First Arch, a freestanding arch seen in the photo above. We all wanted our best shot at photographing the arch then we circled up and around the outcropping nearby.

David looks for his Angle
After returning to the trail, we reached a second group of outcroppings. This one had a huge pack rat nest under one of the alcoves and there was another arch up the hill as seen in the photo above.

Hiking Group through the Virgin Peak Arch
 As we got deeper into the redstone, we left the trail and hiked straight for this area's best freestanding arch called Virgin Peak Arch. See the first photo of this entry.

A Delicate Side Arch

Limstone Mountains above the Redstone
 This arch frames Virgin Peak very well. Virgin Peak is seen in the distance across the Overton Arm of Lake Mead. In front of the peak, you can make out the Falling Man area and Black Butte/Bitter Ridge of Gold Butte NM. We took our photos then proceeded to make a tour of this area in the redstone. Here, there are hiker-made trails to each of the formations. One of the first noticed formations was newly named today! The Wildebeest! Then, we moved on around to a very delicate vertical arch and finished off with the Tea Kettle Arch. Each formation required a lot of milling around and photo-taking! It was a very relaxed and beautiful day!

Tea Kettle Arch
 Next, we headed on up to the hike's high point for a snack break. The views of Lake Mead, Gold Butte, and Valley of Fire from here were calm and tranquil.

Returning to Break Area after Arch Loop
 Afterwards, we worked our way around a very large outcrop to reach a trail leading up to an overlook mesa. There is a survey marker on this mesa. Then, we walked over to the edge where we could see the Valley of Fire Wash below us.

Valley of Fire SP High Point in Distance from Break Area

Today's Group at Break
 Just around the corner of the wash is Charlie's Spring. We'll work that spring into a hike later on. For today, we turned around and returned downhill continuing our circling of the large outcropping. Down the wash, sharp turn to the right, up a steep wash and around a large block rock (see five photos below). The group needed a short rest here! Then the hike proceeded down to the Cow Column. This is also a very delicate formation. Next, look around the corner and up. See the eyes staring at you! Arches up on the rock ridge create a mask of eyes. Continue around this ridge and head over to a massive Mammoth Rock. This formation makes a great photo when your kids climb up to "ride" it!

Rounding Corner to approach Overlook
See the second photo of this entry and you will see Chuck hiking up to the Mammoth's trunk. Must be feeding time!

Survey Marker above Valley of Fire Wash on Overlook
 By this time, we were all being bothered by gnats. I don't know if this is a seasonal thing or if they are always here. It's a little unusual for the dry desert but we ran into them last year on a hike nearby as well.

Hiking over to the Mammoth Area

Traversing the Redstone
 After the Mammoth, the hike begins its traverse back across the desert terrain but the formations aren't done yet! We passed by the Wave that has been renamed the Tsunami Wall. Then we hiked by the Angry Bird off to the left. Off and on, we were following one of the game trails. They were found everywhere! It is always good to find one of these because of the many arroyos you have to cross ... especially in the lower regions of this area. One of the last formations we past was the profile of a man. If you look at it from one direction, it looks similar to Bob Hope! Other hikers saw different famous profiles in the large rock found up high to our left from a large wash.

Small Break after Steep Wash Climb
  We came across bighorn bones a couple of times during the hike. Some of these bones have been here for, at least, the last five years.

Two sets of Bones along the Way
 You can torture me all you want but I won't tell you where you can find the bighorn skull! Even bighorn skulls are protected by the BLM as their property. Take only photos, leave only footprints.

Tsunami Wall

Leaving Tsunami Wall
 Finally, it was just a matter of finding enough game trails to cross the desert back to the spring drainage. We passed on the right of a large redstone outcropping and continued straight until we came to the lone canary palm and crossed the stream, this time downstream of the tree. From there, is was a short hike down the wide trail to the cars. This is always a crowd-pleasing hike! Thanks to Chuck H. for leading and to John W. for organizing. Many of the hikers went to Overton for ice cream afterwards!

5.2 miles; 700 feet elevation gain; 3.75 leisurely hours; average speed 1.4 mph

Rock Formations

Returning Off and On Game Trails

Crossing back over Blue Point Springs Drainage