For a variety of reasons I missed several hikes, but got “back on the trail” again on Wednesday, bound on a hike that was partially new to me. I’ve done the “out and return” hike to the Praying Hands formation, but rather than turn back at the “Hands”, the Wednesday hike was a “lasso” loop into territory I hadn’t hiked before.
We parked on First Water road at the Crosscut trailhead, then hiked Jacobs Crosscut trial to Treasure Loop. After a short segment of that trail, the route goes “off trail” for the remainder of the hike. Actually there is a trail for the entire hike, but it is an informal affair not documented on maps.
My mapping app gave a total distance was just under 5 miles, with elevation gain (and loss) of about 1,100 feet. Most of the gain is in a short segment after you leave the marked trail, climbing to the saddle at the praying hands.
It was a brisk morning, nice for hiking, and with some leftover haze in the air early. This scene from the desert floor silhouettes our destination against the morning sun.
Here’s a shot of the “Hands” from a few hundred yards away. Some of the hikers are seen at the base of the formation, giving you a scale to judge the size.
Leaving the lunch stop at the base of the Hands, the hike goes eastward gently downward into the terrain seen in the shot below.
Looking backwards, the Praying Hands more resemble their name from this aspect.
Cairns are the “road signs” of western hiking. Generally they are a small stack of available rocks, often pyramidal in shape. But now and then someone has time on their hands and does something out of the ordinary. This finely balanced structure was about 18 inches tall, and must have taken considerable patience to assemble!
Back on the desert floor this small memorial had been erected along the trail. RIP, Dwight, whoever you were.
On to the hikes of the new year 2016. “Lonesome” George is back on board, and that’s always a promise of something new.