GUNSIGHT NOTCH PEAK
SNOW AT RED ROCK CANYON
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GUNSIGHT NOTCH PEAK
It was another beautiful sunny Saturday at Red Rock. The "Fab Four" (Joel Brewster, Mike Ryan, Mike Shackleford, and Roy Trafton) decided to make the arduous ascent up to Gunsight Notch Peak. Led by the skillful trailblazing of Joel (also known as "The Mule" because of his propensity to carry heavy loads or small children up any trail), the group rock-hopped their way towards the summit.
Water flowed freely in Pine Creek, so finding a dry route was a little more challenging, but these stalwart LVMC hikers forged ahead. Schooled by the wisdom of Joel to always take the left fork (and avoid sharp knives), they progressed upstream like a troop of happy salmon. Once out of the brushy wash and into the beautiful canyon, the group paused to snack and listen zen-like to the many streams and rivulets that trickled over the rocks.
Then it was on to the summit. All were successful, although one person who we will not name had to do a little backtracking. This perfectly wonderful day was topped off by a little skinny-dipping in a crystal-clear ice cold pool. Can you say REFRESHING! Joel did film this event. CD's are available at a reasonable price for those 17 years of age or older. And so ends our tale; all I can say is that you should have been there!
SNOW AT RED ROCK CANYON
On March 21, I planned to visit Red Rock Canyon and catch at least a glimpse of some snow during a hike of the White Rock Hills loop. I got more than I expected when shortly after I parked at the Willow Springs parking lot, it began to snow.
As I progressed up towards La Madre Springs, the weather turned into a bonafide snowstorm with hefty snowflakes flying all around, covering tracks within minutes. As the photos I took hopefully show (see above), it was a beautiful sight, and I felt like singing Christmas carols along the snow-coveredtrail. I bumped into a few other hikers during the adventure, including a group from Korea. The crunch of the snow under my feet was a refreshing sound and the fresh snow was dry, fluffy and packed into nice light snowballs.
By the time I arrived at the White Rock Hills parking lot, the sun began to shine through the clouds a little bit, but the clouds won in the end and at the terminus (Willow Springs parking lot) the snow was back in full force.
HIDDEN YOSEMITE VALLEY IN RED ROCK
The hike to Terrace Canyon is my favorite hike in Red Rock. The terrain is a lot of fun and the views are fabulous. I was also really looking forward to this specific hike. A large storm system dumped a significant amount of rain and snow at Red Rock two days prior (the 5th) as I led a Pink Jeep tour. The loop was closed when I arrived that morning due to debris in the road, although the road opened soon after I arrived. I encountered tropical storm-force winds, rain, sleet, snow, and water flowing across the road from the Willow Springs wash and also the Pine Creek wash. After seeing all that water flowing across the roads, I knew the Terrace Canyon hike in two days would be really good.
Originally only Dave Bagasson had signed up, but Larry Dunn and Bruce LaCroix decided to join us, too. We all met at the Red Rocks parking lot at 7:30, then piled into Larry’s vehicle to start the hike at the Pine Creek parking lot at about 8:00. As we were starting I heard a couple burros making their normal calls, but we didn’t see any along the trail. I jokingly told everyone as I was amazed to be doing this hike in shorts and a t-shirt as just two days earlier I wore long pants, fleece jacket, hat, and gloves because of the storm.
We hiked the Pine Creek trail, and then entered the wash to begin hiking the canyon to the left of Mescalito. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of water running through the wash. A large amount of boulder-hopping was necessary. This hike is physically challenging, as you need to not only use your legs, but also your arms to get up and over many of the boulders. Due to the large amount of water, the route was also mentally challenging, negotiating the boulders in such a way as to not get wet.
The terrain was absolutely beautiful. The colors were amazing. We encountered a lot of different small waterfalls. Larry and I took so many pictures. It is hard to describe, so I hope some of the pictures included with this write-up are sufficient.
I had attempted this hike several times previously over the past couple years, but only once had I reached Terrace Canyon. The terrain was a little familiar, but had changed due to a large amount of vegetation which had grown in the wash. Larry had a topographic map providing an indication to go left into a canyon, but for some reason we all felt we should go right. That was a good call as that direction led us to Terrace Canyon. We encountered a really brushy area at the mouth of the canyon that led us to think we made a bad choice, but we finally reached the opening. The views were absolutely amazing. We all agreed the sights were akin to seeing a small, hidden Yosemite Valley. The amount of water flowing along the terraced rocks was strikingly beautiful. We were all happy to have reach this secluded and infrequently visited area. It's hard to believe that it is only a little more than three miles and a three-hour hike in from the parking lot. The hike started at an elevation of 3,837 feet and ended at 5,269, with a cumulative elevation gain of about 1,600 feet.
We reached a great point to stop that is marked by a fallen, dead ponderosa pine. It is a great location to have lunch and to enjoy the wondrous views of “Hidden Yosemite.” Eventually, after almost an hour we decided it was time to return. On our way down towards the mouth of Terrace Canyon, we were surprised to discover another group of hikers; we were sure we would not see anyone else on this trip. It turns out Brandon led Linda Williams and Valentina Proskourina to this area. We all talked for several minutes and then continued back. I was sad to leave the area, but it was time to head home.
We returned back to the car at about 3:20 and then enjoyed
cold Gatorade bottles I had kept in my cooler - a great refreshing beverage
for an absolutely wonderful hike. I will definitely do this hike again,
but not until next spring.
Chris hopping boulders
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