This is a guest blog composed by Brian Dodd with photos by Shirley Grimm.
|Valley of Fire Beehive Terrain|
|Starting out in the Cool Still Morning|
|Typical Sandstone Rock Jumble up to the Left|
|Brian on High Point Two|
Brian Dodd and friends (especially Chuck, Larry, Terry and Jeannie) have been leading hikes out at the Valley of Fire (VoF) for the interpretive park rangers, once a month during the season, for about half a dozen years. If you are interested, they are announced and posted on the VoF Facebook pages a week or so beforehand. Developing new hikes that are appropriate in distance, gain, terrain and of interest for a group of ~20 folks of unknown hiking capability requires some work. Brian and co., have explored and led hikes to high points in the rockpile near the Beehives for several years.
However, the question was, is there a hike out there suitable for a public park hike? So, on Friday November 18th, four friends went out to pre-hike a possible route. It was overcast and not as windy and cold as expected…in fact a perfect hiking day. The first part of the hike was pretty routine with some steep rockfall climbing to the first highpoint HP-2595, continuing down and around to the second highpoint at HP-2617. There’s an ammo box sign in book up there now.
|Larry at High Point Two|
The problems came around HP-2670. While there’s a little exposure getting up there, coming down requires a mini, free rappel. This was deemed to be too dicey for a park hike, so alternative work arounds were explored which didn’t go all the way up and came down different ways. The intrepid explorers split, with one pair going down a nice canyon, only to find that they were eventually cliffed out. This required them retracing their path and coming back up again. Did we mention new hikes take work to develop? The other pair went down the usual route, but were soon reminded that further down there was another drop requiring some strength and agility…again probably not suitable for a park hike group.
Brian’s pair went on to the next high point at HP-2304, not really expecting to see the others until they were back at the car. Over to HP-2304 is an out-and-back section and while coming back, lo and behold the other pair were seen way across the gap. A quick phone call told them to stay there, where the group will be re-united. On the way back to join them Brian decided that this hike was altogether too much hard work for a park hike! Either that or he was totally out of shape…
|"Where shall we go next?"|
Back as a foursome again, the trek continued uneventfully to the last high point, HP-2561, where there are great views to the south. From there on, it was a decent, mostly downhill route back to the parking lot.
Once back home Brian cut and pasted tracks to continue to develop a park hike that will eliminate the HP-2670 tricky rappel and the HP-2304 hard climbs and descents…but which might include P11b-2600. However, these options will require another pre-hike. Did I mention that developing a good hike takes work?
|Larry near High Point Three|
|Coming down the mini-rappel (Harder part above)|
|Finding the separated Climbers "Over There"|