Sunday, October 29, 2023

South Canyon Bike Trail Loop - 10/28/23

Wash Crossing on the Bike Trail

Bike Trail return on the side of the Ridge

Bike Trail heading into the South Canyon

Starting out on a cool Morning
Six months ago, we started mapping out this loop hike that begins in the vicinity of Late Night Trailhead. It uses a very well made bike trail and a power line road that is partially overgrown. Since the construction on SR 160, there is no legal access to the area of the main part of the trail. (Why? I have no idea.) Pedestrian access gates would have been greatly appreciated. Instead, hikers have begun resorting to a circus act to get through the fence and balance their way down to the ground. Anyway, so, this hike is begun from a gravel road (HCV) with no circus acts, two roads up from the Late Night parking lot. About 1/3 mile out the road, you will find a place to park where the road makes a switchback to the right. Be careful because there are two places that appear similar. Check your maps and GPSs. From your car, you can hike directly up the wash for around 1/2 mile. Here, you will run perpendicularly into a clear bike trail. Turn left.

Bike Trail with South Canyon Beyond

Duck Bikers!

Mike rummages in a Cairn Can

Heading into the Canyon
We followed the bike trail on the south side of the wash noting the obvious work that someone did to make this trail. There is one tree that you have to duck under. Beware! The trail comes down to the wash and crosses it at the barrel cairn seen in the photo above. If you miss this, there are a couple more opportunities to reach the trail on the other side. Now, the trail starts through colorful rocks and dips down to go alongside the wash. Someone has done a great job making the trail in the wash so that it is not easily washed away. As the trail follows the wash through a walled curve, there is an opening on the right side where you can hike up a rock hillside. This is the bottom of the power line road. Turn right and begin climbing up the road to follow it all the way along the escarpment hills to the right. Both last time and this time, we tried the game trails that seem to cut below the road on a traverse. These trails may cut elevation gain but they are not completely clear and difficult to follow. I guess if you do it right, the trails would help. If you lose the trail, you end up in a mess! Regardless, there are a couple of cairns lying around.

Colorful Canyon Wash

Climbing the Power Line Road/Trail

The Power line road from bike trail Above

Turnaround point at Pinnacle Rock
When you reach the second steep downhill in the road, follow it all the way down to the wash. Our mistake was to pay attention to the very large cairn across the wash that you can see from this second downhill. Ignore the cairn and continue up the wash to then follow the road up the side of the opposite hill. The road will cross the bike trail on the other side and continue up to the high point of the hike. This drops you at the intersection of an abandoned road that turns right where you will come to the bike trail crossing and start down toward a large pinnacle rock. We took our break and group photo here. From there it is just a matter of following the bike trail down and up to traverse along the ridge on the south side of the canyon wash below. It is a beautiful and exciting trail. Watch for bikes because there isn't much room to spare on the trail!

Cairn made from Insulator Materials & an old Can

The Bike Trail

Nearing the end of the bike trail Ridge

Returning through the wash on the Bike Trail
The trail goes to the end of the ridge and drops steeply with the help of several switchbacks. Eventually, the trail drops into the wash and connects near where the power line road climbs out. At this point, you simply follow the trail back the way you came, crossing the wash where that barrel cairn is set up. Under the low hanging branch and on to the wash where you had connected with the trail in the first place. Now, there is a choice. You can either turn right into the wash and descend to the trailhead or, for a tiny bit more distance, you can follow the trail, turn right onto a trailed bench, look for your car in the distance to the right ahead, and drop off the bench to bushwhack over to the car. Your choice! We did the latter for both hikes and were entertained by a skeleton in an old car that was filled with gravel on the side of the wash. We made a couple of mishaps on this hike but the description and maps are correct. Maybe next time, the third time, we will have a better handle on this wonderful hike. Still happy!

Stats: 6 miles; 1140' gain; ~4 hours
Duck Again

Returning on the Trail

Trail on ridge nearing the Trailhead

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Calico Double - 10/23/23

Mike at the Wall Tank in front of Red Cap

Turtlehead Peak from Calico Peak Ridge

Kay at the Top Tank

Following Mike out through the old Sandstone Quarry

Calico Tanks Trail
Please forgive the lengthy blog post this time. We had such a fun time scrambling in the North Calico Hills and everyone took so many fun photos that it was difficult to choose.  So sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the hike with us!

 It had been a few years since some of us had been in this popular scrambling destination so we just took our time and helped each other with some of the more difficult places. In the end, we spent 5 hours (!) on the rocks and had a bundle of fun in only 3.7 miles starting out from the Sandstone Quarry Trailhead on the Red Rock Scenic Loop.

Exit from Rattlesnake Trail

Starting Red Cap Ascent (scale inaccurate!)

Coming out of that first Ascent

Small Slot during Red Cap Ascent

In the shadows of Red Cap Ascent
Over the years, the preferred routes up to Red Cap (East) had changed to the east side of the ridge above the top of Ash Canyon. There is, however, a route on the west side that is tried and true. That's the way we climbed up. Finding the right chute and following small slot, the route hugs the wall on the left side as you circle up to the tank level. That was my part of leading! Next, Jerry helped direct us up to Red Cap Peak going up the way you would normally go down. (TBH, the normal way of going up is just too scary anymore for me and a few others.) Besides, the new way was fun as we sidled up along the rock next to the regular "drop." That was the first time we had been on Red Cap in a few years.

Waiting for the sun on the Views

The Hard Way

Ascending Red Cap Peak on the descent Route

Fab Five on Red Cap

Descending from Red Cap

Descending from Red Cap
After pics, we descended from the small summit the same way as is the usual route, ... down the drop ... and moved back down to the tank level. First, we climbed up to see the Top Tank. It was green, not clear. But, we got a good reflection. Next, we moved on down and around to the Wall Tank. Also green with a good reflection, as seen in the first photo. Moving on around, we circled the Sundial Tank. I believe this is also called Turtlehead Tank since the famous peak rises just above in many photos. It was full of water but not clear either. Climbing up the almost vertical sandstone wall on the lower end of the tank, we continued up along the ridge toward Calico Peak. The Large Tank to the right below had water but the plants and grasses are taking over the usually dry tank. We made our way to the first high drop, the Diane Dempsey Descent ... or DDD for short. Mike, Jerry and Cheryl were all very helpful for Rita and I as strength and long legs trumped the short and the weak! We dropped through the dip and repeated twice as the ridge undulated sharply. These scrambles are challenging but doable. Finally done with the ups and downs here, we followed Mike and Jerry around and up to Calico Peak where we signed into the log and had a break.

"Don't leave me here!"

Top Tank Reflections

Wall Tank Reflections

Sundial Tank Approach

Sundial Tank at opposite End

Climbing the Wall at Sundial Tank
The view from Calico Peak is 360 degrees of RRCNCA. The day was very hazy so we couldn't see the Strip. I guess the wind blew in some dust the day before.

We took our summit photo and started down still scrambling along the length of the ridge. There is one scramble that I usually try to avoid that comes next. But with all the help around for this hike, we all forged forward. The drop isn't far but it is right next to the abyss on the right side! (It's just creepy.) Anyway, right after this, we found the crack that leads down toward the main Calico Tank. It is also a good scramble and we had to wait for another couple of hikers to make their way up.

Red Rock was bustling and we never figured out why unless it was because, finally, the hot weather had broken and everyone wanted to enjoy it.

Down on the level above the main tank, we turned to the left and started down the colorful red and white sandstone where there are several trails.


Rita has help at another Scramble

Ash Canyon from Calico Peak Ridge

Ridge Scramble

Nice shot on the Calico Peak Approach

Summit Photo at Calico Peak
One trail leads down straight to the "Garden of Eden." A couple of trails lead down and to the right. These trails go down the Calico II Descent but take a longer route requiring more elevation gain. (At this time, we didn't want anymore elevation gain than we had to have!) But, there is one trail, if you can find it, that is higher than the rest. With Jerry's help, we did find the preferred trail and crossed the avoided dip below. (If that makes any sense.) This trail stayed to the right during the steep descent.

Enjoying Calico Peak

Ridge Descent to Main Calico Tank

Crack Exit down to Tank Level

Rita starts Steep Descent with watching Eyes

Jerry leading from Behind

Jerry leading in the Front!
On the way, we passed a few climbing walls but only one wall was busy. Anyway, as we descended, we came to a very large boulder in the middle of the steep slope. We passed it on its left side then, soon after, we crossed back over to the right side, stepped across a very slanted rock face and found ourselves at the top of Mike's Slot Descent. (I just call it that because Mike is the one that showed it to us last year.) It is scary to look at from the top but once you start down, you are too busy to not have fun! All quite doable. (BTW, "how do you eat an elephant?" One rock at a time.) Coming out from the slot at the bottom, we were right there at the usual junction below Calico II.

Calico II Steep Descent

Starting down into Mike's Slot Descent

Winding down into the Slot

Inside the Slot

Slot Descent
All we had left was to finish the canyon down to the wash found alongside the Calico Hills and connect with the Calico Hills Trail. From there, it was only just a little less than a mile on the trail up to Sandstone Quarry. That last mile was uphill and very tiring after all that scrambling. I guess you could start the hike at Calico II. We had a wonderful morning! Hope it was good coffee. Good scramble routes never grow old .... Be careful out there!

Stats: 3.7 miles; 1200' gain; 5.25 hours

Fun part of the Slot Descent

Connecting with the Calico Hills Trail

Calico Hills Trail

Heading into Sandstone Quarry Trailhead