by Raoul Kennedy, Photos by Joel Brewster
This pre-Christmas hike took
place on Saturday, December 20, and was led by Amy Brewster. Hike participants
were Joel and Toby Brewster, my wife Shigemi and myself, Luba and Alex
Leef, and Bob Grozenski.
The originally scheduled event was a climb up Fortification Hill. Shortly
after passing into Arizona, we marvelled at the recently erected partial
span of the Hoover Dam Bypass (to be completed in as early as 2007).
Our first warning was a ROAD CLOSED sign blocking the access road. It
became obvious that the Bypass contruction has rendered whatever road
might have existed impassable, even with a 4WD. There may be some way
through, but our caravan gave up and we opted for the nearby Liberty
Bell Arch hike.
trailhead for Liberty Bell Arch hike is unmarked. The vehicles park
on the left side of the road about 3 miles past the "Welcome to
Arizona" sign. This is described as a "must do" hike
in Branch Whitney's Hiking Southern Nevada. Starting and ending elevation
are estimated at 1,700-1,800 feet with very little net elevation gain,
although there are a series of ups and downs along the way. Some of
the areas we passed resembled eerie moonscapes (or perhaps Mars-scapes).
Weird-shaped formations abounded and I spotted what I thought looks
like a prehistoric mini-volcano. Along the way we encountered a mining
area with cavernous holes and the remnants of equipment. Some interesting
green-colored rocks were strewn about along the trail at one point.
Liberty Bell Arch came into view about half-way through the hike, and
the trail passed near it as we continued on. The voluminous arch even
has a stone resembling a bell clapper!
Shortly after, we reached the turnaround point, a small plateau overlooking
the Colorado River below. We reached this point in about an hour and
10 minutes, had lunch and enjoyed the scenery. The water level of the
twisting-and-turning blue-green Colorado River below was particularly
low this year, exposing normally submerged sandy beaches, lush greenery
and mysterious lagoons. The hike involved some huffing and puffing up
some steep inclines but was not overtaxing. The return trip back to
the vehicles was about an hour.
Be careful driving through Boulder City! Driving back home through Boulder
City, we were stopped for speeding, although the vehicle was travelling
with the flow of traffic. Perhaps Joel and I looked too "touristy"
or maybe we were just unlucky as we were picked out of a group five
or six cars all doing the same speed. Perhaps the Code Orange Terror
Alert and our proximity to Hoover Dam had something to do with it. In
any case, watch the speedometer when passing through the area!