Friday, June 2, 2023

Cathedral Rock and Little Falls - 6/1/23

Little Falls

Echo Falls

(L-R) Harris Peak, Rainbow Saddle, South Loop 1st Overlook, The Vatican

Cathedral Rock from Echo Trailhead
Five club members met at the Echo Trailhead in the Echo section of Kyle Canyon for a 6 mile hike touring Echo Falls, Cathedral Rock, the manhole cover and Little Falls. The snow is clear from the trail except for one smallish section in the upper part of Cathedral Rock Trail before you reach the final climb. There is a go around here if you so desire. Water is running strong from the waterfalls and washes. We are still working on getting our high elevation lungs so this was a workout for us. We started up the Echo Trail and hiked over to the connecting trail to Cathedral Rock Trail. Just before we reached the first signed trail junction, we had to cross the wash that was flowing with water down from Little Falls. See the photo below.

Creek Crossing at Little Falls Trail Junction


Climbing the Switchbacks

Hiking up to Echo Falls (Background)

Lower part of Echo Falls behind Snowbank 
A left turn at the junction sign sent us over to the Cathedral Rock Trail junction. No snow. No water. Just hills. We turned right at the sign and began climbing the long switchbacks up through Mazie Canyon, an avalanche valley that is filled with aspens. It was still early so we didn't see too many other hikers. In a playful mood, we took the first of several group photos on the first bench next to the trail. Then, one by one, we climbed up to the Echo Falls junction. Let's go see the falls! Wow! Very nice. This waterfall is separated into two sections. We couldn't see the lower section very well because of the snowbank that covered the view. Above that, a bridge of snow laid over the normally sunken area. Then, a nice waterfall fell above that.

Enjoying the View

Mummy's Toe from Cathedral Rock Trail

Bruce takes it all In

Water running off at base of Cathedral Rock final Climb

View from top of Rock down Kyle Canyon
We continued the climb passing a newly fallen tree and the culvert wash that runs down the hill to the right. Then an enjoyable climb up the final rock to the overlook. Chipmunks were already sneaking around asking for handouts. Cute little critters. Poking their heads up and scurrying here and there. This was our wildlife for the day! We took a good break but there was a rain cloud growing over our heads. We had places to hike and beauty to see so we started down and turned to the right. A quick hike over to the manhole cover showed that the Little Falls water was running loudly below and the manhole cover was under the snow. Next, it was back down the Cathedral Rock Trail.

Preparing to leave the Rock

Charleston Peak from Cathedral Rock Descent

Mazie Canyon and Washes up to the South Loop

Trail narrows leading up to the Manhole Cover

New Tree Fall
The cloud above us was getting larger and heavier but the worst of it appeared to be over the North Loop ridge. We wasted no time descending to the old trail that shortcutted down to the Echo Trail. A very few sprinkles were felt. Mike said there were 7 drops! We passed the Echo Trail junction and began our climb up the Little Falls Trail. Someone, bless their hearts, has swept the Little Falls Trail clean! At the top, we rounded the corner into the small Little Falls Canyon and were met with the expected water rushing down through debris. We all got wet shoes as we climbed up through the obstacle course. No one fell through the snow and ice (amazingly). Turning the corner, we saw what we came to see. Little Falls in all her glory!

Cathedral Rock Trail

Starting up the Little Falls Trail

Rounding the Corner to the Water below Little Falls

Hard not to get Wet!

Hiking up to Little Falls
I've seen the falls running strong before but this time it was running even more. There was a bridge of icy snow above the lower section of falling water. And, above that, the falls squiggled down a rock chute of the cliff. We stayed there for several minutes taking photos. Finally, we started down getting even more wet than we did going up! Down the nice clean trail. Turned left at the sign. Crossed the wash. Hiked back to the trailhead. A fun and fantastic day!

Stats: 5.8 miles; 1650' gain; 3.45 hours

P.S. The GPS track below shows a different order of the hike with Little Falls being climbed first.

Group shot in front of lower part of Little Falls

Returning down the Water

Beautiful Rushing Water

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Foxtail Spring & Pioneer Rock Loop - 5/29/23

Foxtail Spring & Waterfall

The Sisters Ridge above snowy road from Spring

Lee Peak above Ski Slopes and Upper Bristlecone Parking from Loop Trail

Starting up the Foxtail Ridge Road
Often when it is a holiday or any other really busy day, our hike will take us up to the Foxtail area. Here, you can find a challenging ridge, a beautiful spring, Pioneer Rock, and the abandoned girl scout camp named Camp Foxtail. Today, Memorial Day, six of us parked at the traffic circle on Lee Canyon Road and headed toward the picnic area on the south side of the road. Before we entered the picnic areas, we turned right to follow a horse trail up to the top of Foxtail Ridge. Up there, we followed an old service road up to Lee Canyon's water tank and Camp Foxtail's fireside amphitheater. A trail led us down to the main camp and its dining hall. The girl scouts no longer lease the property from the forest service.

Some sights at Camp Foxtail

Aspen-lined road to leading to Spring

Climbing road through Snow Patches

Nearing the Wash Crossing
On the left of the dining hall, a road starts uphill through the rest of the camp. We followed it up past the turnoff to the left, through the aspens and past the camp water/ utilities station. Here, the road continues up going steeper and steeper. This is where we began to hit large snow patches. We reached the wash crossing and I decided to put on my microspikes. The snow was steep and few people had been there blazing the trail before us. It was my first time wearing them and I decided that I love them! We crossed the wash, climbed the first hill then turned to the right. Weaving our way through the woods, we found the somewhat less steep parallel road which was completely snow covered. 

Kay shows off her MicroSpikes after crossing Wash

The parallel road is snow-covered, too!

Steep Snow up to Spring

Foxtail Spring Waterfall
Our steep climb continued until we came back to the original road that was constructed when the water pipe from the spring was laid. We crossed this road and continued up a short way to get a view of the spring area above. It would be very difficult to get to the spring like we usually do so I took a few photos from where I stood. Usually, this spring flows through the cliff walls into a cave under the cliff. Today, the water flowed over the high cliff above. A beautiful sight! Turning around, the view was of the Sisters Ridge, Nevada's Mt. Everest and Wallace Saddle. It is quite the perch! After we had our fill of gawking, we returned down the hill the same way we came up. The microspikes worked very well for me but, Cheryl, Jerry and Bob all tried their talents for using the glissade technique. Cold butts for all three! When we got back to the camp's water station, we sat there for our break. We were in no hurry so I believe the break was extended a little. Next, we headed back down to that turn on the road; now a right turn. The last hill of the day ensued. We climbed up through some more of the girl scout camp and on up to the saddle behind Pioneer Rock. We had expended a lot of energy on the climb to the spring so no one wanted to explore the humongous rock outcrop.

Cheryl and Jerry glissade down the Parallel Road

Safely back across the Wash

Pleasant Break at the Camp Water Station

Mummy Mountain from Break
After a rest, we continued along the trail up the hill and left. The top portion of this loop trail traverses laterally below the west side of Mummy Mountain; a monstrosity of a mountain. Every year, we see newly fallen trees on this trail. This year wasn't different. I don't believe anyone is maintaining this trail and it does require hikers to cross fallen trees over and under. It is a shame because everyone that we have shown this trail to falls in love with it and wants to do it again and again. We stopped for a breath at Pinnacle Point then started down the opposite side of the loop. We didn't find any snow at all on the entire loop. However, the views of the snowy north ridge were grand. We saw that the Upper Bristlecone parking lot was pretty full. Our descent return into Camp Foxtail put us right back at the dining hall. It appears that a few large trees were taken down over the winter. One of them still resides near the dining hall. It is laid in a vacant area near the road and chopped into long pieces. It was so big that we had to get our photo with it! Maybe it had been dead and needed to be thinned out as the forest service is ever vigilante about fire hazards. All that remained for the hike was to walk out the access road through the Foxtail picnic area. There are a couple of alternatives to this final portion of the hike but we wanted to walk through the picnickers on this holiday.

North Ridge from behind Pioneer Rock

Pioneer Rock Loop Trail

Rocky Outcrop on Loop Trail

Pinnacle Point and Sisters Ridge
Well, there were no picnickers at the Foxtail Picnic Area on this fine holiday, so we just walked on down and back to the cars. It was a very fun and adventurous day.

Stats: 4.7 miles; 1480' gain; 3.5 hours

Lee Peak from Loop Trail

Looping back down to Camp Foxtail

Gathering at a Felled really Big Tree