Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Tank Discovery 2024 (North Calico Hills Scramble) - 3/25/24

A tank in the West Hills

Climbing a sandstone Hill

Pretty Tank

Kay at Tadpole Tank
The route for Tank Discovery Scramble 2024 included the West Hills, Calico II Peak and a new sandstone traverse we happened upon on the return portion of the loop. Look back in the archives for Tank Discovery Scrambles over the years beginning in 2012. As a result of these routes, we have discovered many tinajas and named most of the largest ones. Many of them are quite photogenic but, this year I regrettably chose not to take my camera. Silly me! Never fear! Stephen Jones was kind to take photos along the hike and his photos are nice work. We began at the Sandstone Quarry Trailhead off the Red Rock Scenic Loop and hiked out the Grand Loop Trail to the west. Reaching the top of the hill, we continued straight to climb up to the first large tinaja. Next, we made a clockwise circle around the center outcrop finding two more tanks. After descending back the way we came, we went up the Limestone Wash Trail to the arch canyon. After finding the arch, we continued forward and up ... then down and up to the next sandstone peak. There was so much water that we had to name the tank that sits on top of this peak, Tadpole Tank.

Resting on Sandstone Ridge

Tanks & Turtles

The brushy Descent

Circling a large deep Tank
We descended back into the wash below and crossed the Calico Tanks Trail to escape the small stream of water in the middle. At the regular spot, we climbed up to the top of the sandstone hill on the right and explored a few tanks up there. Since there was so much water, we didn't try to climb over to the Long Pool (my favorite) but kept going up to Calico II Peak. We took the Chute down to the area above the main Calico Tank. Here, we took our break with a gorgeous clear view of the Strip in the distance. On our way back, we crossed up to the Tank on the Ledge and along the red ledge. Rejoining the Calico Tanks Trail, we crossed over the CCC steps and found an interesting scramble up, up and up the white sandstone until we ran into the familiar slot on the Red Cap Trail. We took the slot down and about the time we were going to try another exploration, the sky spit at us a little. Change of plans. We made a beeline back to the cars without getting too wet. Fun, fun day! A lot of upper body work without dangerous situations!

Stats: 4 miles; 1350' gain; 4.75 hours

The Long Pool

Tilted sandstone Beehive

Descending the Chute

Friday, March 22, 2024

Keystone Canyon / La Madre Wash - 3/21/24

View up to the Keystone Thrust Fault Area

White Rock Wash

Keystone Canyon Wash to Cactus Hill to La Madre Mountain Range

Will someone get this girl some clippers!
There were eleven club members who arrived at the lower White Mountain Road Trailhead near mile marker 6 of the Red Rock Canyon NCA Scenic Loop Drive. It was an experienced and fun group but most had never climbed up through Keystone Canyon as the "normal" way is to descend. We started down the Grand Loop Trail across the scenic loop and dropped down to the junction with the Keystone Canyon Wash. A large juniper tree marks this junction among the desert brush. Turning to the left, we hiked up the wash where last year's rains had deepened the walls and made a few more wash ways. Reaching the culvert that runs underneath the scenic loop, we saw that there were still a mess of roots hanging down on the uphill side. 

First Dry Fall in Keystone Canyon

Climbing through Keystone Canyon Wash

Climbing the Narrows

A little bit of Scrambling
Most of us just made our way through the roots with very low bending! An alternative is to climb up to the left and cross over the pavement only to drop down again into the wash. The wash becomes more interesting as it narrows down and meets a few obstacles. These obstacles are usually dealt with on a descent. They are quite different on an ascent but we handled everything just fine as we hiked through the white rock section of the beautiful canyon. The real scramble came as we took on the Keystone Thrust Fault area head on! Straight up the middle! Yes, I suppose the right or left would have been a little more forgiving but this was a group of adventurers. 

Succulents under the Thrust Fault

One of few above ground thrust faults in the World

Climbing out of the fault Area

Sandstone Quarry in the Distance
Finally, we scrambled all the way up to the actual thrust fault where there is an overhang that moves across the base rock slowly over the eons. (Scientists come from all over the world to study the geology here.) We didn't spend a lot of time at the fault continuing along the "normal" trail and climbed up to the ridge above. At the junction of the ridge, we turned to the right and began a long climb up toward the La Madre Mountain Range. We climbed until the trail petered out at an overlook area where we could look down on Pinnacle Canyon and back at Sandstone Quarry and Turtlehead Peak. Here, we picked our way through the brush and dropped down into the large graveled wash to the left, the La Madre Wash.

Dropping into the La Madre Wash from the Ridge Trail

The Sandstone Bluffs from La Madre Wash

Down the Gravel

Around the Dry Fall
We stopped for a break to sit on the large rocks at the side of the wash that leads up toward the La Madre Double Arch. After our rest, we began our return down through the wash meeting several deepened dry falls. The deluge of rains was evident as we followed the deeper routes down toward the White Rock Hills. There was only one dry fall that we had to go around to the right but many chose to go around another dry fall to the left just over half way down. We crossed the White Rock Hills Loop Trail and the wash began to divide into a large delta. Trying to stay with the "main" part of the wash, we continued our journey down to junction with the White Rock Wash in front of us.

Deeply scarred wash Terrain

One of several small scrambles Down

The largest Scramble

One more scramble in the La Madre Wash
Finally, the white rocks greeted us with the hill in front of our noses. We turned left and continued a beautiful scramble down the White Rock Wash to where the White Rock Hills Loop and the Keystone Thrust Trail crosses the wash as it comes down from the White Mountain Road upper trailhead. Here, we elected to continue down the wash instead of climbing up to the trailhead. Following the wash always to the right, we paralleled White Mountain Road until the wash seemed to turn too much to the left. A prudent turn up to the right put us on the dusty road where we hiked down to our cars. Next time, I believe we should continued down the wash some more as it doesn't stray too far from the road and then returns. This would eliminate dealing with passing cars and dusty air. This is a good workout on a route that is easily determined. What a great group! I would hike with this group any day!

Stats: 5.3 miles; 1350' gain; 3.75 hours

Scrambling in White Rock Wash

White Rocks in White Rock Wash

Small drop in White Rock Wash

Monday, March 18, 2024

Lone Grapevine Spring - 3/17/24

Wooden Fence Spring

Spring fed wildlife water Trough

Bighorns climbing over a Hill

Following bike Trails
After four days of terrible weather, nine club members drove out to Late Night Trailhead to hike to Lone Grapevine Springs; one of the several springs that flow from the base of the Sandstone Bluffs in Red Rock Canyon NCA. This is a pleasant 5 mile hike that the club has been doing for many years. As we started out, the air was very cold ... down to around 39 degrees. But, it was predicted to rise all the way to 63 degrees by the day's end so knowing what to wear was a bit of a conundrum. Within the first hour of the hike, the bite was lessening and that wonderful Las Vegas sun warmed us up. We headed out the Mustang Trail that leads parallel to SR 160 about 20 yards away.

Mt. Potosi covered in Snow

La Madre Range covered in Snow

Trail with East Monument Peak in Background

Cleaning mud off shoes in spring Area
We turned right at the second junction, continued into the desert then took 2 lefts at the next junctions. This trail would take us all the way over to Wooden Fence Spring where we were obliged to hike through a lot of red mud. Between the rain and the spring water, the earth was very soft. After our visit to the first spring, we turned to a trail that led to the right (north) and followed it all the way over to the water trough below Lone Grapevine Spring and Muddy Springs I&II. Here, the route took us up the hill to the right. Still dealing with mud, we arrived at the wire fenced spring and began our hunt for the petroglyphs in this area. The group was very good at finding the artwork and they even found a couple of panels that I had not seen before!

Wooden Fence spring Area

Cleaning shoes at wash Crossing

Crossing over to Lone Grapevine Springs

Group at wildlife water Trough
Some of this area was not so muddy and our return was meant to follow a burro trail that led back to the water trough without going through the mud again. Sort of ungracefully, we returned to the trough and started back on a loop route from there. The trail that starts across the desert back to the Mustang Trail from the water trough is somewhat unclear until you hike it about 50 feet. Then, the trail is wide and clear. We headed straight back to a junction with the Mustang Trail and turned left. This trail gets a little confusing because of different trails coming in and going out but, suffice it to say, we headed toward a parallel route of the hills to our left and the road far to our right. This put us in familiar territory as we use this part of the route often.

Windy Peak above springs Area

Petroglyph of covered Wagon

Petroglyphs on surface of large Boulder

Pictograph under large Boulder
To finish off the hike, we used the relatively new shortcut through the gravelly, sandy wash that parallels the hills to get back to the cars. This keeps us away from the car emissions of SR 160. We looked for burros through the whole hike but were only rewarded with a few brays in the distance ... and a lot of "evidence!" A great group of women today who were very glad to be out!

Stats: 5 miles; 600' gain; 3.25 hours

One side of 3 sided boulder with Petroglyphs

Snow clouds over the La Madre Range

Following the Mustang Trail back to Trailhead

This map shows the "new" route in the gravelly wash parallel to the hills on return.