Sunday, October 30, 2022

Harris Wash - 10/29/22

Small window in Pleistocene Era rock of Harris Wash

Part of Harris Slot Canyon

Golf Course Remnants below Visitor Center

Visitor Center from Below
Nineteen hikers returned to Kyle Canyon for one of its last hurrahs in the Spring Mountains for 2022. After staging a couple of cars down the road at the Harris Springs Road junction, we parked at the Stepladder Trailhead to start the hike. Since the gate was still closed for the morning to the Gateway Visitor Center parking lot, we hiked over to the VC and started down into Kyle Canyon and the Harris Mountain Wash. Finding the wash at the bottom of the hill, there was one (and only one for the day), short scramble to drop into the gravel. We started down among the spent rabbitbrush blooms and apache plume bushes. Immediately, the walls got taller on either side of the wide wash.

John leads us down to the Wash

The only Scramble in the Wash

Hiking among spent Rabbitbrush

View out from Cave
These walls are made of conglomerate rock and are remnants of the Pleistocene Era. Over millions of years, the rock has been shaped by floods emanating from the Spring Mountains. Caves, windows and spires are seen from the wash all the way down to the Harris Slot Canyon at the bottom. The group spread out as we slowly made our way down the gravel. There were forks and deltas separated by sage, creosote, goldenrod, ephedra, blackbrush, etc. About half way down, we came to a bend in the wash that, in years past, was used to dump old cars and appliances over the side from the cliffs above. "They" cleaned up the antique junk and, now, apparently use this cliff to dump wild horse carcasses. It is a very sad sight. There were at least four horses we could see. I chose not to show you these photos.

Hiking down Harris Wash

Cut Logs thrown down from Above

"I'm a little teapot!"

Narrowing Wash
There was a lot of evidence of burros in the wash and next to the walls. I imagine that they use the walls for protection in bad weather. There is also a burro trail that climbs up and out of the wash to the base of Harris Mountain and on to Harris Springs Road. We took our break at a place where we could sit on the gravel banks. Sometimes it is difficult to find a place to rest nineteen hikers! Afterwards, we continued down where the wash reached its widest point. It is wide here because this is the entrance to a narrow slot in the conglomerate. We took a group photo inside the slot then continued to pass through the narrows. The narrows are long and interesting.

Memorial to the Wild Horses

View back to Charleston Peak

A place to take a Break

Nearing Harris Slot Canyon
Coming out the other end of the slot, we found ourselves following an old road out to junction with Harris Springs Road. A small shortcut put us at the large gravel parking lot. Drivers were loaded into the two cars that were waiting at this end of the hike and we were shuttled back up to the Stepladder Trailhead. We picked up our cars and returned to collect the remaining hikers. It was a great day in the mountains with cool to warmish temperatures.

Stats: 5.5 miles; + 56' gain; -1230' loss; 3.5 hours

Entering Harris Slot

Enjoying the Beauty

More of the Narrows at Harris Slot

Friday, October 28, 2022

Blue Diamond Canyons 4A / 5A Loop - 10/27/22

Tri-Level Scramble in Canyon 4A

First Scramble in Canyon 4A (go around available)

Drop Scramble in Canyon 5A

Starting up Canyon 4A
The Blue Diamond Canyons 4A/5A Loop is a relatively new hike / scramble for our club. Today, Rita and I did it for the third time. Mike did it for the second time and Charlie and Ralyn did it for the first time. Good reviews all around! There is evidence that other hikers have begun doing this hike since the first time that I blogged on it. One piece of evidence is the placement of property boundary poles at the high point of the hike where the route crosses the mine truck road. Luckily, the boundary does not interfere with the route of the hike. We parked at the Wheeler Camp Springs Trailhead parking lot and began by hiking on down by SR 159 to the right toward Blue Diamond. There is a trail in the weeds that keeps you away from the traffic.

Charlie supports Rita's Foot

Wash in Canyon 4A

The Canyon Deepens

Tri-Level Scramble
The entrance to Canyon #4 is across the road after the mine truck road junctions with SR 159. We headed up the wide wash and came to a fork. The right fork is Canyon 4A. After the initial circumventing of catclaws, etc., we began climbing up a nice scramble on rock as the walls got taller. Deeper into the curvy canyon, we hit the first difficult scramble. It's short but slippery and has few hand holds. Charlie provided support for Rita and I then scrambled up himself. Mike and Ralyn did a somewhat easier go around on the left side. A few more zigzags and tall beautiful walls and we were at the base of the tri-level scramble, a favorite. Lots of hand holds helped us climb vertically up the wall seen in the first photo. After the first level climb, there were two more climbs that were less vertical as the canyon turned around a corner to the left.

Kay photographs Rita in the Tri-Level Scramble

Short respite in the Deep Canyon

Steppin' on Up in Tortoise Memorial Wash

Climbing out of Tortoise Memorial Wash
Continuing up the canyon, we climbed up the shorter scrambles in the wash. From the beginning, we saw many large dried up mud holes made from the monsoon action of a few weeks previous. The cracks in the mud were sometimes 5" deep! Finally, we reached the first canyon fork since turning into 4A. We took the left fork that put us into Tortoise Memorial Wash, named for a tortoise that had just died there the first time we were in the canyon. This wash is a little more brushy so we climbed up in the middle and on the left side to get to the top ridge. Hitting the ridge on the right, the boundary poles became apparent and we carefully dropped down to the mine truck road, crossed it, then dropped down through the wide wash in front of us. This wash ends in another scramble before you junction with Canyon 5A where we stopped for a break.

Near the High Point with Boundary Marker

Rita drops into Canyon 5A

Taking our Break at the Junction of Canyon 5A

Seaweed Fossil (?)
Canyon 5A is not as steep as 4A but there are a few scrambles in the canyon that provide entertainment. We started down a gentle slope as the walls, again, grew taller. One of the first points of interest is the antique junk yard. (The map below shows it to be sooner than it is.) This may be evidence of mining communities in the area from the mid-1900's. Hands off! This stuff is older than 50 years! Some of it is even older than us! This area is also part of the Bird Spring Formation and fossils can be seen here and there. This includes the fossil in the photo to the left; the first plant life fossil I have ever found. Interesting. After the bone yard, we started down a few nice drop scrambles as the canyon lost elevation.

Dropping through Canyon 5A

Passing the Antique Junk Yard

A drop scramble in Canyon 5A

Down through Canyon 5A
Pieces of the bone yard are strewn here and there in the wash. We climbed over a rusted barrel when the canyon narrowed down then came to a nice narrow descending slot. Soon, we were hiking into Canyon 5, veering to the left and coming to a large junction with bike trails on the right side. It is important to find to the bike trail that follows the rim of the canyon down to the bottom. There is a really difficult 3rd class scramble that this bypasses. We stepped up our pace, took a peek over the edge at that 3rd class scramble, and finished hiking out on the trail all the way to SR 159 exactly across from where our cars were. We all really wish someone would put a pedestrian gate in the fence here. Fantastic morning!

Stats: 5 miles; 900' gain; 3.75 hours

Mike performs a drop scramble in Canyon 5A

In the Slot nearing Canyon 5

Bike Trail along the rim in Canyon 5