Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Inscription Rock Canyon - 11/05/23

Inscription Rock Canyon (in the shadows)

After this hike, Susan Murphy graciously pointed out that this was not Moonshine Spring that we were heading toward. Our canyon was one canyon north of Black Velvet Canyon. Moonshine Spring is one canyon south of Black Velvet, a place where I thought Mud Spring was located. This is my official correction.    (But, it's still a good story!)     Nevertheless, we were in the vicinity of Inscription Rock. We must have passed right by it and didn't see it near where we took our group photo. (At least a lot of history is located in this area.)

One of our fine Burros

Trail leading past Oliver Ranch

Trail alongside Fence
As we walked along a trenched trail behind Oliver Ranch, Bonnie Springs and Spring Mountain Ranch, I envisioned rough ranch hands and ranch owners alike walking the same trail 200 years ago making regular trips down to a moonshine still somewhere in the dark brushy canyon we were heading toward. I grew up in Georgia where we would hike in the Georgia and North Carolina mountains and, occasionally, come upon a mountain still used to make "white lightning." My Dad would always say, "We don't want to stick around here too long." So my brother and I would scamper on up the trail after my Dad. Bootlegging lived long after the Era of Prohibition ended in those mountains. There, it's best to not drive up a mountain road where people live in small houses and trailers unless you were invited. Let's put it that way. (Revenuers, you know.)

We were together up to this point!

Ralyn, Rita and I stick close to the Wash

Passing the Wilderness sign on Moonshine Spring Canyon Trail

Chuck and Mike survey their side of the Wash
So, when we heard about the Moonshine Spring Canyon in the Red Rock escarpment, we had to pay it a visit. Five of us started out from the Wheeler Camp Spring Trailhead and said "hello" to some bikers who were also getting ready for the day. Dropping down through the fencing, we followed the bike path that is unhindered by barbed wire and turned to the right heading straight toward Oliver Ranch. We took the more comfortable trail above the sandy wash on the left and circled around. Our first burro sighting was in the distance across the Landmine Loop Trail right there. We believed one burro was heavily pregnant. At the back end of Oliver Ranch, we hiked straight along the fencing to the west avoiding bike traffic on the Landmine Loop. Continuing as straight as possible, we began crossing a series of washes that seemed to come together right there. Finding the correct wash to follow was a bit of a challenge but, in the end, it was the northernmost. The trail, however, was not as easily explained.

Just returned from the Spring?

Our view of the guys and a Burro

Moonshine Spring Canyon from our Snack Rock

A spring Somewhere?
On the way out to the canyon, we followed burro trails and better trails staying as close to the wash as possible. (Except for Chuck and Mike who were hiking on the northern side of the wash doing the same thing as they got further and further away.) We came back together where the wash was filled with trees. Maybe there was usually water there for the trees and burros. Ralyn, Rita and I continued on the south side of the wash finding a very good, albeit trenched, trail that matched my GPS red line and began climbing a bit as we neared the canyon. At the apex of the "good" trail, we started out a spur trail that is, at this time, marked with blue or yellow frayed nylon roping. This trail climbed a little more and stopped at the top of a hill where we looked down into the mess that I thought was known as Moonshine Spring Canyon. Perhaps the trail continued from there but, at this point, we were 3 miles in with a nice rock for snacking ... and ... Chuck and Mike were far in the distance on the other side of the wash taking their break. Between us and them, there were 3 or 4 burros who presumably had just returned from the spring ... wherever that is. (I'm sure they know.)

Calico Hills from our High Point

Starting our Return - Photo near Inscription Rock

Desert Garden

Following the correct Trail
After contacting the guys via phone, we decided to all return on the same side of the wash as we each had come. I was determined to find the promised trail and we had a better chance on the return. We did ... find the trail. It is there! So, we followed the trail all the way back to the big wash delta where we fumbled around a little and finally found the trail that goes next to the fence. (BTW, this area shows the trail on the map that swings to the south and comes back. I was trying to avoid the extra mileage by crossing straight through. Thus, the wash delta crossing.) Anyway, we got back just fine, but the boys however, got side-tracked by hiking through Oliver Ranch fencing and up to the road! I guess we all learned something. Love to explore!

Stats: 6.4 miles; 725' gain; 4 hours

P.S. I always welcome corrections. Thanks Susan. I am not an expert but only know what others have told me.

Near the Wash

Crossing the Wash

Almost back to the Fence (Wash Delta)

Chuck indicates where he and Mike ended up! (We are in Red Rock!)

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