Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hoover Dam Bridge Peak - 11/25/14

Hoover Dam Bridge Peak

Hoover Dam & Bridge from Peak

Late Season Tarantula

 There is a little peak (little as in square footage) that rises between Goldstrike Canyon and the Hoover Dam and O'Callaghan- Tillman Bridge in the Lake Mead NRA above the Colorado River. Today, nine hikers were squeezed on the peak signing in to the log book and taking their break. Photos were provided by Susan Murphy,  Laszlo Heredy and Mike O'Connor. Laszlo also debuted his excellent narrative writing skills with the words below.

The Warm-Up

The Peak before the Peak

View Down from Peak

 So, nine avid AtBF hikers set out along Gold Strike Canyon towards the Colorado River...though, for only about 250 yards, as the group then took a sharp, steep left (northerly) turn to attain the ridge where the high tension pole structures are anchored high above the trail. 

After that little warm up-climb, the group ambled slightly downward toward the trail that would lead east to the three-stage scramble-climb to Hoover Dam Bridge Peak.

View Down from Peak (Other Side)

Starting the Down Climb

 After a short photo op at this peak rest stop, the next and final destination was to reach the Hoover Dam Bridge Peak several hundred yards further to the east, just above the Colorado River as it exits the dam's turbines. This involved two, or three undulating lower mini peaks to arrive at the final destination. The views from this perch were somewhat mystical as the group silently took it all in as we had our snack break.

Descent with Lake Mead in Distance

Watchful Eyes Below

Yep, it's steep!

 Coming back down involved about one quarter reversing our upward climb and three quarters heading directly south off trail to complete the balloon-on-a-string loop back to Gold Strike Canyon, merging with that trail at about its half-way point. We then strolled in a western direction back to our cars at the trailhead.

Many thanks, Kay, for your kind blog-assistance!!

Laszlo and the Tuesday Gang
5 miles; 1750 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours
Starting Up Goldstrike Canyon

Up and Around in Goldstrike Canyon

Helping John with a Little Clean-Up

Monday, November 24, 2014

Grand Circle - 11/24/14

Early View from the Grand Circle Trail

Shadows on the Grand Circle

 It was a wee bit chilly for nine hikers as we started out from the Red Rock Canyon NCA fee booth parking lot for a twelve mile hike around the Grand Circle Trail. However, the chill didn't last long as our exercise and the rising sun warmed us. The first six miles of the hike uses part of a very old dirt road that connected Rocky Gap Road and Pahrump to Las Vegas. At the time, this was the only way there was to take a vehicle over Red Rock Summit. We started out at a brisk pace that would be adhered to for most of the hike.

Hiking the old Road to Pahrump
 The long climb up the old road led us toward Willow Springs, crossed the Scenic Loop then connected with the White Rock Hills Loop where we turned right. The climb continued up to the White Rock Springs Trailhead.

Resting before the Final Climb before Break

 The last of the climb took all we had remaining in energy as the pace floated around 2.75 mph. The longish break that we took here was well deserved! We sat on the rocks and enjoyed a snack as the cold wind kicked up a notch.

Next, we started the descent by hiking down the dirt road that led to the trailhead. The three miles that followed would take us across the top end of the canyon floor as we climbed and dropped through a series of undulating hills. Two more Scenic Loop crossings were within these three miles.

The Second of Four Road Crossings
 It was a busy day at Red Rock and we stopped cars at three of the four road crossings. The crosswalks have recently been repainted.

Landmark Juniper and Tall Cairn

 As we zigzagged our way over the hills, we ran into another club hiker. Not reaching the meeting place on time, he had decided to hike the loop in the other direction knowing that, eventually, he would run into us. So, then we were ten.

We had wonderful views of Turtlehead Peak and distant views of the Calico Hills. We could see the Visitor Center some distance away. And, the escarpment rose behind us.

Nearing Sandstone Quarry
 When we hiked into the Sandstone Quarry parking lot, the place was packed! People and cars everywhere!

Meadow near the Calico Hills

 We took a small break here then proceeded hiking down along the red sandstone toward Calico II. The trek down beside the colorful sandstone would be the last three miles of the Grand Circle loop. Here the trail undulates in a different fashion. We made short climbs up and down over the sandstone on the path with uneven footing. Tired legs and feet had to be careful during this stretch. One misstep and ... well ....

Starting Along the Calico Hills
 This was also, perhaps, the most beautiful part of the twelve miles. After seeing muted colors of gray and green for the first nine miles, the red sandstone seemed really bright!

Approaching Calico II

 As we continued down passing Calico II and nearing Calico I, we saw more and more people on the trail. All types of people passed by. It was especially nice to see little kids with their adults enjoying an adventurous hike at Red Rock. Finally, we reached Calico I and did the last mile down to the fee booth parking lot where we had begun earlier in the morning. It's a long trek but, at the same time, very satisfying.

12 miles; 1900 feet (total) elevation gain; 4.75 hours

Leaving Calico I

Hiking the Last Half Mile to the Fee Booth

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Landmine Loop Variation - 11/23/14

Happy Rock on Landmine Loop

Spanish Trail Marker

The Landmine Loop Variation is a great "walk in the park." It is a slight variation of the eight mile loop used by bicyclists that encircles the hills behind the little community of Blue Diamond, Nevada. The difference in the loop of today and the official Landmine Loop includes a parallel trail that takes hikers up into the low foothills. (And, today, a slight change near the beginning of the loop on an alternate trail that made little difference in length.)

Still Warming Up
 The trail is located on land of the Red Rock Canyon NCA and we began from the dirt parking lot on the right side of the road after the bridge leading into Blue Diamond. To reach the trail, we walked through the community until we reached the upper back side of it.

Black Velvet Wash Limestone Crossing

 The first section of the trail is part of the old Spanish Trail that was used from 1829 to 1848 to travel between Santa Fe, NM and Los Angeles, CA. After rounding the corners near Highway 160, our route left the Spanish Trail and stayed closer to the hills. We took a slightly different detour today. But we had the Landmine Loop in our sights. At the Black Velvet wash crossing, we joined the originally scheduled route! There are many bike trails in this area.

Escarpment from Landmine Loop
 We followed the Landmine Loop at the base of the hills until we junctioned with a trail that turned us up to the right. This is when we deviated from the mother trail as we headed up to the foothills.

Limestone and Cactus

 We started hiking among limestone conglomerate boulders. These hills were made when the limestone of the Keystone Thrust (Red Rock Canyon escarpment) pushed over landslides. The land between the escarpment and the Blue Diamond hills eroded away over time and we hiked through what is now standing there; large sharp conglomerate boulders made of limestone decorated with red barrel cacti, Mojave yuccas and creosote bushes.

Nearing the Break Point
 We made a left and a right at the trail that leads up the side of the hill, staying down below. Soon, we came to a small fork in the trail. Taking the right fork led us to our snack rock. It offers shade, sunshine, seating and wind block (especially important today).

Landmine Loop and Oliver Ranch Fence

 After our break, we hiked around the high corner junctioning with the Landmine Loop again. We visited the old DeSoto (1940 or 1941). Then, we hiked through a very pleasant section of trail that used to be part of the Oliver Ranch. (Even though we hunted, we never found a single burro in our midst.) The Landmine Loop led us above the fenced in Bird Sanctuary then returned us to our cars. The hike was a great way to start our morning.

8 miles; 1000 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Circling Through the Old Ranch Land

Bird Sanctuary from Landmine Loop