Top of the World Hike (VOF) - Trip Notes for 02/13/2016

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This page last updated on 06/15/2017
(Fig. 01)
02/13/2016 Trip Notes: Today, Robert Croke and myself hiked Valley of Fire's "Top of the World" hike for the second time. The last time we made this hike back in 2013, we accomplished in on our own. Click here to read about our last hike ... Top of the World Hike (VOF) - Trip Notes for 12/13/2013. On today's hike we accompanied 24 other hikers on a "guided" tour led by one of the parks' rangers. One of the reasons we signed up for this hike was to find out if there was an easier route to reach the top than the one we previously hiked. The short answer was no. Even though the last time we had to double back a couple of times near the top after reaching spots that we were unable to navigate, our eventual route to the top was pretty much the same. There were however, two major differences. If you refer to the map in (Fig. 02) below, you can see that the starting and return routes for today's hike were different; both being much more difficult, especially the return. (con't below)

(Fig. 02)
Today's Hike: Today we gathered at the Scenic Vista #2 parking area, top right of (Fig. 02), where our hiking guides (Chris, Brian, Terry, and Dennis) provided hiking information and a description of the hike (Fig. 03). As we headed out the desert was fairly flat, full of typical desert scrub, but soon gave way to some rocky, hilly, sandstone covered ground (Figs. 04 & 05). As we hike further out, we started to enter some deeper wash areas that had been eroded over thousands of years (Fig. 06). After leaving the washes, we began climbing up some of the very steep slick rock (Fig. 07). The picture in (Fig. 01) was taken looking back to the parking area from the same spot as in (Fig. 07). After reaching a flat sandy area in the upper portion of the hike, we were confronted with a series of steep "fins" on the left side of this area. (Seen lower left of the map cutout in (Fig. 08). As we reached the top of one of these "fins", we had a view due north of the hikers directly in front of us climbing up the last of the sandstone "fins" that led to the arch (Fig. 09). The grade of the picture of Bob in (Fig. 10) is actually much steeper than it appears. After spending time exploring around the arch (Fig. 11) and the stop, we eventually started our return. (Con't below)

(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
The Return: From the arch we retraced our same steps back to the sandy area at the beginning of the climb up the "fins" (Fig. 12). On our previous hike, Bob and I retraced our steps back to our starting point at the Scenic Vista #1 parking area, as seen in (Fig. 02). For this hike, as seen in blue on the map in (Fig. 08), they took us down through a very long, extremely steep, rocky ravine (Fig. 13). Because I was so busy concentrating on not falling, I didn't capture very many pictures (Figs. 14 & 15), and those I did get don't adequately portray how steep and difficult it was. There were places where we had to climb through a "hole" in the rocks and turn sideways to get through a narrow slot canyon area. Unfortunately this was made much more difficult for me as I ended up getting some of the worse case of leg cramps I have ever had while hiking. My cramps were so bad that my constantly stopping near the end caused Bob and a couple of the guides to be the last ones back, taking them 40 minutes more than everyone else to return. The good news was that, over the course of this hike provided me with dozens of more great pictures (Figs. 18-19).

(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18)
(Fig. 19)
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