Sunday, August 19, 2018

Robbers' Roost to Stepladder - 8/18/18

View from Stepladder Trail

Supply Cabin in Telephone Canyon

Robbers' Roost and Trailhead

Starting up to Robbers' Roost
There are very few downhill hikes in the Spring Mountains. The easy moderate club members of the Around the Bend Friends try to exploit all of them! One of them is the hike that begins at the Robbers' Roost Trailhead and ends at the Stepladder Trailhead or the Telephone Canyon Trailhead using one of the many bike routes that are available in that area. Today, nine club members placed one car at the Stepladder Trailhead then used three others to take hikers up to Robbers' Roost Trailhead. Our first order of business was to climb up to the crack in the mountain that has several alcoves and caves where these highway robbers used to hide out. It's a short climb using the switchback instead of the scramble route. Unusually, there were no rock climbers around and we also beat the flow of families up this popular short hike.

Large Trees on Switchback
After using our imaginations at the hide out (and, also as we observed the rock climbing wall chains and such) we returned to the parking lot and took the steep trail down behind the sign.

View from Robbers' Roost
At the bottom of the hill, we turned right. At the nearby junction, we veered to a 2 o'clock direction onto a trail. It's a wide rocky trail that we followed down to a dip.

Alcoves used by Robbers

Taking a Break at the Cabin
A right turn at the dip brought us to an old log structure that is thought to have been a supply cabin/shelter for equipment that they used when installing the telephone lines for the resort cabins at Deer Creek. We took our break here. Next, we continued down the bike trail that curved to the right. We were now paralleling the highway above to the right. At the first fork, we went right. This took us off the main bike drag and soon after, four bikes went zooming past us to the left fork. The name of the trail that we were on now is Cowboy Washington. ...?... Anyway, we followed this trail easily with the road above the whole time.

Old Supply Cabin
The trail uses the Old Deer Creek Road in sections and soon after, we came to a large junction of trails. We veered to the right at a 2 o'clock angle and started down the Stepladder Trail.

Hiking down Cowboy Washington Trail
We had already gotten a beautiful view of Telephone Canyon and the La Madre Mountains in the distance past Kyle Canyon. Now the views of Kyle Canyon really opened up.

Distant view of La Madre Peak from Telephone Canyon

Resting in the Shade
Stepladder Peak ridge rose to our left and Harris Peak rose across Kyle Canyon in front of us. The escarpment near the Visitor Center was a prominent landmark. We were passed by four more zooming bicyclists on the trail going down. The trail is beautiful and very enjoyable. Soon, we turned to the right onto the Stepladder feeder trail and hiked into the parking lot. It was a warm day but clouds helped us out a bit. Very pleasant hike.

4 miles; +260 feet elevation gain; -1500 feet elevation loss; 3 hours

Old Road section of Trail

Speeding Biker on Stepladder Trail

Visitor Center in Distance

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Ben Nevis (Scotland, UK) - 8/15/18

Jerry & Cheryl's adventure up Ben Nevis (Trailhead)

Trail Access

Trail above the Garradh
Ben Nevis (Scottish Gaelic: Beinn Nibheis) is the highest mountain in the British Isles. It is located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of Scotland, close to the town of Fort William and is affectionately known as 'The Ben.' Jerry and Cheryl T. were successful in their second attempt at Ben Nevis this week. The Ben is popular for many mountain sports including Hill Running which dates back to 1895. The Three Peak Challenge was probably born out of this Ben Nevis Race. The average temperature for the mountain at this time of year is 45 degrees. The weather on The Ben is notoriously gloomy so ideal conditions should never be counted on.

Approaching the top of The Ben
 Jerry and I summited the peak, Ben Nevis, on our own. It’s 4409’ above sea level and we started at 5 below sea level. It’s all steep uphill but because the elevation isn’t high, it’s not a tough hike - just long. We had better weather than when we went with the group. Less rain and wind. We had drizzle and it was very misty. Also it was very slippery coming down as it had rained quite a bit earlier. You’ll notice in the pics that the summit had some old stone structures on it. One is an observatory. Can’t imagine what they wanted to observe as it’s always cloudy. We had our photo taken at the high point which was a short climb up some rocks to stand next to a column. You can see the observatory between us. ~ Cheryl T.

Summit Photo - Observatory in Background

Historic Ruins at Summit of Ben Nevis
 A meteorological observatory on the summit was first proposed by the Scottish Meteorological Society (SMS) in the late-1870s, at a time when similar observatories were being built around the world to study the weather at high altitude. In the summer of 1881, Clement Lindley Wragge climbed the mountain daily to make observations (earning him the nickname "Inclement Rag"), leading to the opening on 17 October 1883 of a permanent observatory run by the SMS. The building was manned full-time until 1904, when it was closed due to inadequate funding. The twenty years worth of readings still provide the most comprehensive set of data on mountain weather in Great Britain. ~ Wikipedia
The Money Shot!

Return to Garradhs and Lochs in the Ceo

Sunday, August 12, 2018

United Kingdom Three Peaks Challenge - August 7,8,& 9, 2018

Highest Peaks in Scotland, England & Wales of the United Kingdom

 Nine Around the Bend Friends club members went far and wide to hike last week. All the way across the pond to our old friend, the United Kingdom. There's such a thing as the "Three Peaks Challenge" where hikers attempt to climb the highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales all in one day. Our hikers made the somewhat more rational attempt to climb the three peaks in three days. Brian D. (L) coordinated the trip bringing along with him: (L-R) Jerry & Cheryl T., Maria V., Rosi & Laszlo H., Setsuko S., Rita C. and Mike OC. All hikers are very strong and had trained to meet the challenge.

Ben Nevis, Scotland, UK
The Team of Nine at Ben Nevis Trailhead

Poor Conditions on Ben Nevis
Nine Three Peaks hikers from the club assembled late afternoon on Monday Aug 6th at Glasgow. We were driven up to near Fort William, past Loch Lomond, to spend the night in a traditional ‘bunkhouse’. Breakfast was early so we would have time to ascend Ben Nevis and drive several hours to the next peak. The weather was overcast and blustery to start the hike, but then as we ascended into the clouds we were in heavy rain and wind. Unfortunately, about ¾ of the way up one of our number had a problem with balance and the cold, and the guide made the tough decision for us to turn around. He said the wind, cold, rain and cliff exposure would only get worse on the next section and he had safety concerns. Naturally we were all disappointed, but had committed to follow his instructions and were supportive of our colleague.

Ben Nevis Elevation (One Way)

Ben Nevis Track

Well Deserved Meal - Greens at Gretna
 Scafell Pike, England, UK
Starting up Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike Summit in Rain
 After a fairly long drive, we stayed the night in Gretna, of Gretna Green fame, in a nice hotel and had a welcome dinner together. Another early start had us being driven a couple of hours to Wasdale and the start of the Scafell Pike climb. We started around 0800, with rain forecast around 0900…and it did. The first part of the hike across grass was lovely, but once the rain started and we moved up into the wind and clouds again, it got pretty brutal. The hiking was not difficult, but the weather was appalling. However, we made the peak and started descending pretty quickly thereafter. Regardless of the quality of our water-proofs, most of us still got very wet. Needless to say, we did not eat our lunch until back at the minibus. However, we were all glad to make the summit this time. That night we stayed in Oswestry, after a few hours of driving, in a city-center, old, four-star hotel. The forecast for the next day was good…if only we could dry out our boots and the rest of our gear!

Scafell Pike Elevation (One Way)

Scafell Pike Track
Snowdon, Wales, UK
Climbing Snowdon in Better Weather

Snowdon Summit with All Smiles
A couple of hours driving in the sunshine the next morning brought us to the Snowdon Pyg trailhead. This hike was as we wished the whole trip could have been, with nice temperatures, gorgeous scenery we could actually see, and a lovely trail. After summitting, we ambled down the longer, but easier Walking Trail next to the railway that shuttles folks up and down. It was a great final day, but we had earned it.

Brian Dodd

Snowdon Elevation (Up Pyg & Down Easy Route)

Snowdon Track

Ice Cream for Everyone!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Upper Showgirl Loop - 8/11/18

Camp Trail Overlook

Nearing end of Hike a Bike Trail

Overcast Morning starting out from Juniper Trailhead

Descending on the Upper Showgirl Trail
The smoke from the California wildfires seemed worse in the valley today. However, the skies up in the Spring Mountains were blue, albeit with a tinge of gray. Seventeen hikers drove up to the Juniper Trailhead for a slow 5 mile hike among the trees on a few bike trails. To get to the Juniper TH, drive up Kyle Canyon Road, turn right on Deer Creek Road, turn right on Angel Peak Road, fork to the right and find the trailhead (complete with restroom) on the right about half a mile down. Don't go further than the trailhead because that area is off limits due to the presence of the Spring Mountain Youth Camp found before you reach Angel Peak. (To hike to Angel Peak is a whole different story!)

Mummy Mountain from Trail
We started down the Upper Showgirl Trail behind the restroom as it zigzagged down to the first wash. This wash seems to have been flooded out a bit recently.

Wooded Trail
From there, we followed the trail as it zigzagged in and out of the ravines and washes. There is minimal elevation gain, intermittent shade and lots of trees. What's not to love?

Mountain Mahogany Trees line the Trail

Mummy's Nose through Trees
As we hiked, we saw near and distant views toward Mummy's Nose and Angel Peak. At around 1.5 miles into the hike, we turned left onto another trail. In my book, this is a continuance of the Showgirl Trail. But, trail names get a little confusing in this area. This trail heads straight out the ridge that is above on the right side. We passed a confluence of trails making our way through to continue along the ridge and came to a dip where a log crosses a wash on the left side of the trail. Here is where we took our break. It was shady and fairly cool. If you continue to follow this trail, it will wind along the ridge then make a steep dive down to junction with the ... Showgirl Trail. Yep. It's confusing.

Well-Maintained Showgirl Trail
After the break, we turned around to go back the way we came until we reached that confluence of trails. Here, we went straight near the top of the ridge and junctioned with the Trough Trail to turn right.

Taking a Break
Shortly, the Trough Trail crosses the Hike a Bike Trail. Today, we turned to the right on the Hike a Bike and followed it almost to the junction of our first left turn. The Hike a Bike curves sharply to the left here and begins a long gradual climb up a ridge.

Mummy's Toe from Showgirl Trail

Angel Peak from Hike a Bike Trail
The long climb wasn't so bad and views of Mummy Mountain from here were beautiful since the skies that had begun overcast were now cleared of many of the clouds. The Hike a Bike Trail ends after curving around to the right and running into the Camp Trail circle. Here, some hikers chose to wait in the shade while others turned to the left and hiked down an abandoned road to the cliff that overlooks the new Deer Creek Road. It is a unique view as seen in the first photo. We were very careful not to get too close to the edge in the loose rock. This is probably not a good place to bring your kids!

Gradual Slope at end of Hike a Bike Trail
We all returned to those hikers waiting in the shade then continued up and around to join the Camp Trail that leads back down the ridge on the other side.

Circling around to Junction with Camp Trail
At the bottom of the ridge, the Camp Trail junctions with the Upper Showgirl Trail on which we had started. We turned left to go back toward the trailhead.

Hiking down to the Overlook

Up Deer Creek Road from Overlook
We still had a little over a mile left to go and the sun had taken away some of the shade. Still, a very nice cool breeze came up once in a while and we were pretty comfortable. We zigzagged in and out the washes then came to the final sun-filled climb back up to the cars. Blue skies all around on a day that was forecast as 40% rain and thunderstorms. We like thunderstorms like this! Great morning out of the valley smoke!

5 miles; 600 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Camp Trail

Nearing the Last Climb

Finishing the Last Climb back to Trailhead