Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bridge 360 - Trip Report

On an unusually hot September 26th, 13 hikers did one of the best hikes in Red Rock Canyon, a 360 degree traverse around the dome of Bridge Mountain. The route includes one rappel, lots of class 3 and some class 4 climbing, and tons of route finding.

The hike starts at Pine Creek trailhead and enters Fern Canyon, the north fork of Pine Creek so named for the numerous ferns in the first part of the canyon. Due to high winds this past summer, numerous trees are down in the canyon making for several close encounters with brush.

Once out of the wash we followed the shortcut route to the saddle before Bridge Point, a route Davis and I found years ago. From here the real route begins: a complete counter clockwise traverse around the dome of Bridge Mountain. We traversed along the east face of Bridge Mountain, which looks impossible from the Scenic Loop some 2,000 feet below. We hiked just below the Hidden Waterfall, which leads to, guess what, the Hidden Forest that sits just below the summit of Bridge Mountain.

From there it's a wild traverse to the Hidden, Hidden Forest on the NW face of Bridge.These are the trees you see from North Peak or Ice Box Peak. Once out of the trees, the route ascends a gully and crack that leads to an incredible ledge of the west side of Bridge Mountain.

Since it was hot, we decided to only go to the arch and not the summit. This proved to be a wise choice. Some of the hikers, including Kathy, had not been to the arch on Bridge Mountain. It is indeed a special place. We quickly descended from the arch and across the slickrock traversing east to the rap. We used a rope for one down climb just to be safe.

It was then onto the rap. We had some first-timers and they all did well. Though we tried to be as efficient as we could, it still took over 25 minutes to get everyone through the rap.We had one more tricky climb, but lucky a strap Ed, Mark, and I had placed was there waiting for us.

We followed the normal descent route from Bridge Point into the wash. It was slow going in the wash as everyone was out of water by now. The hike had taken too long due to too many breaks we had taken so hikers could catch up. We did not get back to the cars until 7 pm with the last hikers not reaching the parking lot until 9 pm!

Notes: Fern Canyon needs cleaning. The route to Bridge Point is well cairned. With less daylight now, you have to move faster so you don't hike out in the dark.