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Friday, February 17, 2017

Crack in the Mountain Trail - Lake Havasu

SARA (Special Activities and Recreation Area) Park is an 1100-acre regional park with spectacular mountain views and access to Lake Havasu. The park's facilities cater to a wide range of recreational activities and also serve as venues for events such as the popular Winter Blast fireworks display, obstacle races and concerts throughout the year. SARA Park has a network of hiking and mountain bike trails, ballfields, dog park, rodeo and fairgrounds. Other activities include BMX and motocross racing, roller hockey, RC plane field and a shooting and archery range.

The park boasts an extensive network of hiking and biking trails.  Since we are only here a short time, we picked the Crack in the Mountain Trail, which is the most well known in the park.  This beautiful trail runs 3.3 miles from a trailhead in SARA Park, through BLM lands, down a natural wash, navigating "Crack-in-the-Mountain," one of the most famous slot canyons on the Lower Colorado River. It ends at scenic Balanced Rock Cove, named for a precariously balancing caprock, sitting on a stone column, that presides over the blue-green waters of the cove.  Locals related that bighorn sheep can often be spotted along the network of trails.

This was our view down the valley through which we would be hiking to Lake Havasu:

While much of the trial follows a gravel wash, the geology of the land around the wash changes dramatically at nearly every bend.  Here, Kathy gazes up at some particularly interesting rock formations:

As we approached the slot canyon, the wash took on the look of a mountain stream:

Once we entered the slot canyon, we were clambering down slick-rock formations where the canyon walls were close enough together for us to touch both walls at the same time:

After the main slot canyon, the wash dominated again for perhaps half a mile, returning to a lesser slot canyon before opening out with a glimpse, over the wash's foliage, of the lake through some unique rock formations that we like to call the "Organ Pipes":

Once we reached Balanced Rock Cove, we climbed steeply back up to the ridge in order to work our way around the cove.  This gave us a breathtaking view of Balanced Rock with the cove, and the rest of Lake Havasu, in the background:

The waters of Lake Havasu are a gorgeous blue-green and were, in fact, the origin of the lake's name.  "Havasu" is Mojave for "blue-green," and a local Native American couple was said to have given the lake this name when the muddy sediments in it settled after the Parker Dam was completed in 1938. Below, Kathy admires the beautiful color of the lake water, set off so splendidly by the reds, tans and greens of the surrounding terrain:

We just couldn't get enough of the views of rocks and water.  This photo looks back through our "Organ Pipes" rock formation toward where the wash made its way down to the cove:

We made our way around the cove and down to the shore to a BLM picnic and camping site, where we paused for a well-earned lunch:

Kathy took the opportunity to dip her toes in the COLD waters of Lake Havasu.  Here she is registering her mighty enjoyment of the refreshing dip:

After lunch, back we trekked past the Organ Pipes, with a view of a lush green-and-siena wetland that provides shelter for a variety of shorebirds.

We saw an egret, several ducks, many coots, and a flock of over half a dozen Clark's Grebes, whose behavior made us think of loons with ADHD:

Back up the wash we worked our way, climbing back up the ledges of the slot canyon that we had slid down previously.  Some trail angel had left a short metal ladder at one point, and we didn't hesitate to make full use of it:

At another spot, someone had anchored a climbing rope, conveniently sporting knots for hand-holds. We each grabbed hold and walked up the slick rock.  Here's David turning toward the camera in a victory pose after his climb:

The hike was thoroughly enjoyable, with gorgeous scenery and interesting rocks, flora and fauna at every turn.  As we neared trail's end, Kathy paused to pose with a few of her rocky pals:

We wish we had another three weeks here, to explore all the other trails.  One rocky climb can take intrepid hikers to the top of Picnic Table Mountain, aptly named for the picnic table that some climber found a way to set on the mountaintop - we don't know how.

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