Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cave Springs - 8/21/14

Entrance to Cave Springs Area

Mike Stands at the Spring in the Cave Area

 Six hikers decided that today would be a good day to take a short and sweet hike up to Cave Springs. We drove up Kyle Canyon Road, turned onto Echo Drive and found the Trail Canyon trailhead parking. Our hike up the two miles of the steep Trail Canyon was non-stop. Steady climbing did the trick as we watched puffy clouds come floating over the ridges. The air was cool and damp and didn't change throughout the hike. At the saddle, we cooled our heels for just a couple of minutes then turned left onto the North Loop Trail.

Mt. Charleston from Trail Canyon
 From this section of the trail, we could see Kyle Canyon, the South Loop ridge and Mt. Charleston. The puffy clouds were getting heavy with moisture but they remained over the South Loop and Charlie.

Hikers on the North Loop Trail

 At the Cave Springs area, we climbed up to the cave area and inspected the spring water as it merely dripped down the rock wall. When we returned down to the trail, we saw that the horse trough was completely dry. Our break was short as the six strong hikers were quickly ready for the return trip. The heavy clouds stayed out of our way as we made our descent. Back at the cars, we left to go back to the hot valley below.

5.5 miles; 2000 feet elevation gain; 2.5 hours

Inspecting the Dripping Spring

The Dry Horse Trough

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mummy Mountain East Face - 8/19/14

Rocks and Cracks below Mummy Mountain Summit on the East Face

View up the East Face of Mummy Mountain from Mummy's Knee

 It was definitely a Super Tuesday hike this week as club members tackled another brand new hike for the club. With guidance from Jim Boone's website "Bird and Hike," six hearty men ventured up Mummy Mountain's east face to reach the summit from the opposite side. Until now, the club had only summited from the west side on the traditional route up Trail Canyon and North Loop junctioning at THE SCREE FIELD! Today, they exchanged the famed scree field for rocks and cracks and ledges. (Sounds a lot more fun to me!)

They drove up Deer Creek Road and parked at the turnout across from Wild Horse Canyon and Cougar Ridge Trail, a dirt road leading to cabins and summer homes.

Climbing Up to the Deer Creek Ridge

 On the way up the dirt road, they spied a large mule deer buck. Ten points! Jerry led the group up the mountain and sent some photos and the GPS track. Along with Laszlo's photos, Jerry takes the story from here.

Six intrepid hikers showed up for the author's first hike as coordinator.  Half of the hike was to be exploratory as no one had been to Mummy's knee or beyond on this side of the mountain. 

The Steep Ascent to Mummy's Knee
 We began hiking up Cougar Ridge Road and spotted a mule deer buck with a large rack just above the road on the hillside. 

Mummy's Toe from Mummy's Knee

 The troop followed the familiar route up Cougar Ridge Road to the cabins and then Deer Creek wash up to the ridge above Deer Creek and onto the newly named "Barbell Curve" where the ridge meets Mummy Springs trail. We took a rest stop here and then continued up the switchbacks until we reached the junction of Mummy's Toe trail and trails to Mummy's Knee.


  From this point on the hike was entirely exploratory.  We actually found a well used trail that led straight up to Mummy's Knee. From the knee we traversed across various parts of the Mummy's anatomy. We passed a large scree-filled gully and continued to the next slightly smaller scree-filled gully. Here we ascended until we encountered a series of ledges leading along the summit to the north.  We followed a ledge just below the cliffs and went up a small pinch point until we were just below the summit cliffs on the east side of the mountain.  We walked along the wide ledge here and then scrambled up another short scree slope to the summit. 

Ah! There's the Crack!
  The author was relieved that his first hike was so far without incident.

Paul gets a little help from his friends.

 The photo to the left is a shot of the final small scramble to the summit. The GPS track sent to the website indicates that finding their way up and through the rocks, cracks and ledges below this point was no easy task. Dealing with extremely steep terrain at the top of scree fields and sharp limestone crags, the group of six finally made it to the top. Some of the 7.5 mile distance indicated was exploratory as they searched around for the right routes through the rocks.

Statistics indicated by the GPS track are as follows:
7.5 miles; 3500 feet elevation gain; 6 hours

Jerry's story continues below.

Gnarly, man! Right on! How groovy can it get? Neato!

 On the descent we had one wayward hiker who wanted to stay high while the trail went a little lower.  Well, after being cliffed-out the hiker shortly returned to the trail and we continued on down.  The hike ended without further incident.  As it turned out there were cairned trails almost the entire way to the summit.  You had to know the way up the scree-filled gullies otherwise the hike was always on a trail.  It was great weather, a little windy on the summit but not bad.

~ Jerry

Use everything you have, guys!

Descent back to Deer Creek

Monday, August 18, 2014

Boneshaker / Middle Rim / Skull Canyon - 8/18/14

Red Rock Canyon NCA Sunrise

Burning Red Rock

Sunrise at the Cowboy Corral
 The early morning Red Rock hike still starts at 6am, therefore, seven early risers witnessed the Red Rock sunrise as the rest of the world slept a little longer then headed off to work. Seeing the sunrise display made getting up before light worth the effort. We drove out to the Cowboy Trails parking area at the North Blue Diamond Hills and hiked around to the base of Boneshaker Hill. Hearts and lungs ready or not, we climbed the steep hill enjoying the views behind us of the sun rising on the Calico Hills. Although the air was a bit hazy, the beauty could not be denied.

Climbing Boneshaker Hill

Jackie Climbs Boneshaker Trail
 When we reached the Middle Rim Trail junction, (located just below the Boneshaker sign at a joshua tree stump), the sun had come over the ridge and was bright in our eyes. We followed the Middle Rim Trail above Mystery Woman Canyon then took the flattish switchbacks up to the tall cairn above the New Las Vegas Overlook. A short break at our high point gave us a chance to enjoy the remaining sunrise light.

Las Vegas Morning Rush Hour
 Haze covered the city below us. Moisture or pollution? Both, probably. There was also a slight breeze keeping us cool.

From the Cliffs Northward
 Our break ended quickly and we decided that the silly flat switchbacks were unnecessary as we dropped down to find a particular fork in the trail.

Steve and the Cairn at the Top

Middle Trail to Left, Unnamed Canyon to Right
 The Red Rock boundary sign faked us out but, on the same contour, we spied the wooden stick at the fork. Onward! We had not used the upcoming section of trail before and, apparently, very few have. It is an old trail that has all but disappeared. Nevertheless, we were able to follow it down to the Muffins / Skull Canyon trail junction. It was a pretty trail that led us along an unnamed canyon between the Muffins ridge and the cliff edge rim of the North Blue Diamond Hills. We'll just call this little old trail the Middle Trail.

Starting Down Skull Canyon

Hiking Down the Skull Canyon Wash
 At the junction, we dropped down to the top of Skull Canyon and began our descent. It was a pleasant uneventful descent toward the Red Rock Canyon escarpment. For variety, we used the wash instead of the trail where we could. The Skull Canyon trail passes the Mystery Woman Canyon and the Muffins junctions, then continues down to the Boneshaker Hill Trail junction where we had started our ascent. From there, we returned to our cars passing the horse corral.

6.5 miles; 1350 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Skull Canyon with White Rock Hills Beyond

Returning to the Horse Corral