Saturday, December 31, 2022

Easy Training Day at Lone Mountain - 12/31/22

Did you miss us?

So, my knee is getting stronger every day. I am six weeks out from the surgery and physical therapy is coming along well. We started walking around Lone Mountain (~2.3 miles) this week and will add more difficult ... but easy ... "hikes" as the weeks go on. Today was the first day we had the Fearsome Foursome back together. (Jerry and Cheryl are up north.) We added John and Odie today to make up the Six with Sticks! We should get some dark sun glasses for Odie. (Sorry for the terrible Photoshop job! I'm a little out of practice.)

Circling around the east end of Lone Mountain


Friday, December 30, 2022

David's Big Wall Loop (Valley of Fire State Park) - 12/27/22 - David Morrow as Guest Blogger and Photographer

In 2012, Brian Dodd premiered a loop hike northwest of the White Domes in the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. It leads hikers past a huge wall made of a single slab of red Aztec sandstone. In this hike rendition that was created by David Morrow, the trail leads around the large island of Aztec sandstone that contains the Big Wall(s). Hikers can get a good view of the Big Wall plus enter the alcove slot that contains the petroglyphs of three human (or tortoise) figures. He begins his hike at the entrance of Duck Rock Road following the road for a short ways then crossing overland to the left. David continues his narrative below.

This is a new loop that goes thru the escarpment  and circles back through another gap in the rocks.It is about 4.5 miles and 800 ft gain. It goes near Brians Big Wall but is named because of the many big walls there. It starts at the gated road that leads to Duck Rock. After walking about halfway up that road we turned west at this point and headed toward the slight gap in the ridge straight west. Upper right quarter on the screen. After passing over that ridge you are in a narrow wash that has this low arch. Behind the arch is a ridge of smooth rock that you climb over and bear left to reach the 3 man (or 3 turtle) petroglyph.

Climb down through this gap to see a rare petroglyph of a Winnebago on your right as it flattens out. There is a "hobbit house" nearby! Then you walk east and south over dunes and parallel to the back side of the escarpment till you come to a likely place to cut back through the escarpment. It looks wide open at first but you might have to backtrack a few times. We followed washes generally east and were led to the top side of this crack where we had to backtrack to find a way around. A good scrambler  could go through if they didn't get stuck. Later, there were several dry falls that needed going around. 

When looking at the petroglyph there is a small wash to your right. About 100 feet down this wash, and before you have to climb over a rock fall, high up on the right is a finned formation. From there, head west generally following the easiest path toward any gaps you may see in the rocks. This is the first narrow gap you will come to. Just through it bear right and get onto the high ground so you can see further west toward a sandy area with possible tire tracks from off road vehicles. Go up the sandy hill toward the big wall where you can find a gap to pass through. At the top of this sandy climb, and to the right of the big rock face, is a gap leading to the other side. After dealing with a few dry falls, the terrain levels out. When I reached the final wash (Magnesite Wash) it goes north to Duck Rock. I instead continued east over land to where the car was parked.

Stats: 4.5 miles; 800' gain

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Cholla Forest v Seven Falls Canyon - 12/15/22 - Photos by the Gang

"Merry Christmas" from Cholla Forest

Teddy Bear Cholla

Descent Scramble in Bacon Canyon

Landmark Tire at Entrance
In the past, I have described the Cholla Forest v Seven Falls hike as one of Lake Mead NRA's best excursions. We try to do this hike around the holidays every year and it never disappoints. This year, four of the Six with Sticks parked at the water tank found at the end of a maintained dirt road near the NRA's Boulder City fee booth, the main entrance to the Lake Mead NRA. From the parking lot, they crossed over to the north to start up a wide wash heading west. A large tire lies against the berm where, one year, Cheryl dropped her phone at the beginning of the hike. The phone was retrieved at the end of the hike exactly where she dropped it! The hike proceeds up the wash until it narrows and a fork is presented. Seven Falls Canyon turns to the right here. Immediately, the first of the dry falls must be negotiated. Afterwards, a second dry falls appears containing a rabbit hole. As they hiked up the canyon wash, they passed through a bacon-colored vein of rock and began climbing a series of smaller scrambles.

Alternative Climb up First Dry Falls into Seven Falls Canyon

From top of First Dry Falls - Entrance to Seven Falls Canyon

Up into Seven Falls Canyon

Tricky Dry Falls in Seven Falls Canyon
Many hikers have tried over and over to count the dry fall scrambles in Seven Falls Canyon to no avail. Do you count this or that ... who knows! But, "7" is a good guess of the number of the more challenging 2-3 class scrambles leading up the canyon to a 3-way junction. It's important to not miss this junction and make the left turn. There are a couple of cairns to get your attention. A couple more scrambles follow the junction then the route continues upward to a swale of a saddle with a view of the Mt. Wilson range at your 6 o'clock.

More 3rd Class Scrambles in Seven Falls Canyon

Mike reassures with a Reached Out Hand

View to Mt. Wilson from Saddle

Heading into the Top-Side Canyon
There is a game trail following along the ridge here. For a shorter hike, take a left turn and take the trail on to the top of Bacon Canyon. For a visit to Cholla Forest, however, you must take the trail that descends from the ridge down to the leftish. This takes you to a crossing of a very wide power line right-of-way. But, instead of crossing all the way, we have started hiking up the wash until we reach a small canyon on the top side of the "valley." This small canyon is marked by monolith type rocks and leads to a scramble that is fun to ascend. (More fun to ascend than descend. Therefore, the reason for the reverse direction of this portion of the hike.) After climbing the scramble, the group followed the wash until a left turn up a steep hill on a rocky road.

View back from Tough Scramble in Top-Side Canyon

Ralyn surrounded by Chollas

Cholla Forest from Top Down

Lake Mead view from top of Bacon Canyon
The dirt road climbs up and over the hill then leads down to Cholla Forest. The gathering of teddy bear chollas are on the hillside to the left. As you descend into the area, look for watching eyes of bighorns standing on the ridge above! After a break at Cholla Forest, the hike continues down and across the power line right-of-way to a cairned arroyo on the left. After climbing the arroyo, a series of trails follow down up and over to the right. Then following a trail around a few more small hills, they found themselves at the top of Bacon Canyon. There is a gradual ridge that leads down into the canyon then the canyon begins its descent smoothly. Remember to continue searching for those wild eyes!

Heavy Balanced Cairn

Cheryl starts down into Bacon Canyon

A Drop Scramble in Bacon Canyon

Jerry & Cheryl having fun with a scary Scramble
When the scrambles begin, they don't stop for quite a while! Most of the scrambles are not "scary" but there are a couple that will give you pause. After having done these scrambles several times, we know the choreography quite well. Yet, I do wonder how long it takes a novice Bacon Canyon hiker to figure out a couple of them! Finally down through the last of the bacon colored rocks, the four hikers junctioned with the beginning of Seven Falls Canyon and hiked on out past the big old tire and on to the cars. Another great hike! Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

Stats: 6 miles; 1350' gain; ~ 3.5 hours

Scary Scramble from the Top

Mike holds onto the Bacon

Ralyn leads out of the Canyon Junction