Monday, February 24, 2014

Turtlehead Jr. - Double Slot Route - February 22 - 2 of Diamonds

On February 22, the Saturday following our Grand Canyon grand adventure, a few friends went on a hike for a very special occasion:  it was someone's birthday! (not mine....yet) 

We wanted to do something short, so we settled on Turtlehead Jr. in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  This way, we could do a short hike with fun scrambling AND check off another card hike with the 52 Peak Club.  Although hiking Turtlehead Jr. (often called Red Cap for obvious reasons) earned us the  2 of Diamonds, we didn't take the normal route for which this peak earns its place at the easy end of the deck.  Instead, we opted for the Double Slot Route.

The route starts out at the Kraft Mountain Trailhead, or Sandstone Road Trailhead.  I love this trailhead because it does not require you to drive the scenic loop of Red Rock Canyon NCA.  So, not only do you not have to worry about driving that 13-mile, one-way road, you are also not constrained by the opening and closing times of the scenic loop.  For these reasons, the Kraft Mountain Trailhead is a great place to start any hikes for which you're short on time or when you're starting early in the morning or in the evening.

The route to starts by walking down the gravel road, but quickly turns into boulder hoping up a wash and then some excellent class 3 and 4 scrambling on beautiful red and cream colored sandstone.  I love all the crazy rock formations that you encounter along the way.
This rock always looks to me like it is about to pounce 
Eventually, you find yourself in a couple of beautiful slots in the the sandstone that have been masterfully sculpted by wind and water.
After climbing into the slot, climbing up an awkward climb (that I made look even more awkward than it is), we arrived at the bottom of a ~5 foot rope to climb out of the slot and on to the last bit of the hike.  You can see the climb into the slot in this video at :20, the awkward climb at :32 (although there is a rope in the video that we definitely did not have), and the rope climb at :42.  

After the slot, it's a quick and easy scramble up to the red sandstone of the peak where we ate cookies, celebrated a dear friend's birthday, and collected our 2 of Diamonds cards (my 25th card!!!). 

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