Sunday

Valley of Fire – Trip Notes for 12/13/2013 (Top of the World Arch - Hike)

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EP-P1050542
(Fig. 01)
MAP-TofTW Arch Hike-00
(Fig. 02) Click to Enlarge
12/13/2013 Trip Notes: After last week’s failed attempt to reach this spot for the second time, I decided to do some more aggressive research in an effort to help guarantee success on yet another try. Well, “third time’s a charm” as they say. Today Robert Croke and I went back to the Valley of Fire to try this hike once again. Even though we had a little trouble finding the right access path towards the end, we finally succeeded in reaching the top and finding the arch (Fig. 01). We both had to admit that this hike turned out to be tougher than either of us had expected. This time we both had detailed maps that we had printed out from Google Earth, which proved essential in finding our way to the top. To aid anyone who might be interested in making this hike, I have provided several of the ‘route’ maps that we used. The first map (Fig. 02 – Top of the World Arch hike Overview), provides an overview of the area and the hiking route. The yellow line shows the route from the parking area to the summit. This is an in-and-out hike that is approximately 3.2 miles R/T with a total elevation gain of nearly 400 feet.
                             
MAP-Top of the World Detail-3-3
(Fig. 03) Click to Enlarge
The next map (Fig. 03 – Segment 2), shows the hiking path as it leads from the trailhead in parking lot #2, located on the left side of White Dome Rd. Though there is no real trail to follow here, the main thing to remember is that you you need to head in a northwest direction out across the rocky desert plain (Fig. 04). As you head northwest from the trailhead, look for a well defined, sandy wash that runs west. After you enter the wash, you will encounter a couple of places where it is met from other washes coming from hills on your left. Be sure to stay to the right when you come to these intersections, continuing to head west. (con’t below)
                             
EFP-P1050496
(Fig. 04)
MAP-Top of the World Detail-1-1
(Fig. 05) Click to Enlarge
The next map (Fig. 05 - Segment 3), shows the middle portion of the hike. Continue to follow the wash as it crosses the desert and rounds a fairly large outcrop that some have designated as “Salmon Rock”. After rounding Salmon Rock, head north until you come to a small sandy spot in the wash. There will be a very steep, smooth, slick sandstone wall (Middle of map) on your left. Climbing this wall, as well as some future areas, makes having good hiking boots with grippe soles are a must. Though it is hard to get a feel for the height, the picture in (Fig. 06) is looking back out over the valley from the top of the sandstone wall.  Hiking up from the top this slick rock wall you must transverse several steep ridges (Fig. 07) as you start to hike in a southerly direction (Refer to the map in Fig. 05).
EP-P1050522-P1050525
(Fig. 06)
EFP-P1050531-P1050532
(Fig. 07)
MAP-TofTW Arch Hike-04-2jpg
(Fig. 08) Click to Enlarge
After rounding the high ridge on your right, head north up the wash until you reach a large area filled with very fine deep sand. (Refer to the map in Fig. 08 – Segment 4). After trudging through the sand for a short distance, you will reach the top of a small saddle that will reveal several ‘ramp-like” ledges on your left. You now need to begin climbing to the top of one of these stone like ramps (Yellow line in Fig. 08), transverse its entire length, hiking down the ramp to a small wash-like area on its far (northerly) end. NOTE: Selecting the wrong one, as we did, (Red line) may end up causing you to hike back to the wash and selecting another. At this point, we actually decided to take a different route (Green line) by walking to the end of the sandy wash and hiking up a rocky ravine that also led us down to the area we needed to be at in order to climb up to the arch. Heading down on the far end of this route had some tricky footing and is not for the light-hearted.
                          
MAP-TofTW Arch Hike-05-2
(Fig. 09) Click to Enlarge
Regardless of which route you take, once you hike down the the other end of these ridges, you reach a small wash like area filled with numerous small shrubs, bushes and grasses. Referring to the map in (Fig. 09 – Segment 5), you must now hike up one of the very steep hills that begins on the right side of this area. When you reach the top, it levels off and you will find the arch on the right side. The shot in (Fig. 10) was taken while hiking up this last hill to the arch, looking back at the area we had climbed down in order to reach this hill. Looking at the upper right side of the picture, we actually climbed down the ridge highlighted by the sun, between the two areas of shade.
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(Fig. 10)
Once we reached the arch, we hiked all around it capturing pictures from the front (Fig. 11), back (Fig. 01), and top (Fig. 12). Hiking around the arch to capture the picture from the top, we found a fairly large tinaja filled with water (Fig. 13). EP-P1050560Our careful observation even spotted some type of small fish (right) swimming in this very cold pool of water. If anyone can identify this, please contact me. Once you reach the tinaja, you need to continue hiking up in order to reach the high point of this ridge (Fig. 14). Regardless of where you looked, there were great views in every direction (Figs. 15 & 16). On our way back, the late afternoon sun, shining upon the ever colorful sandstone landscape, provided us with even more beautiful pictures (Figs. 17 & 18). In summery, this hike was much harder than we had anticipated, however we were both glad that we made the effort to “see it to the end”. It continued to reinforce my feelings that the Valley of Fire State Park is one of the most unique and photogenic areas in all of southern Nevada.
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(Fig. 11)
EFP-P1050554
(Fig. 12)
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(Fig. 13)
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(Fig. 14)
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(Fig. 15)
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(Fig. 16)
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(Fig. 17)
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(Fig. 18)
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