Saturday, October 20, 2018

Fletcher Canyon via Acastus Trail - 10/20/18

Fletcher Canyon Narrows

Down Fletcher Canyon Trail

Ponderosa and Fletcher Peak

Descent from Trailhead
 I'm back!!! 😙Long trip! ... So, we don't usually do hikes up in the Spring Mountains this late in the year but the temperatures are staying "just right" and we still have hikes scheduled there. Today's hike was a 7 mile version of Fletcher Canyon via the Acastus Trail. This version uses the top tier of the Resort parking lot for its trailhead. Five hikers parked there and hiked up Kyle Canyon Road for a short distance, then went around a gate and descended a steep hill that used to be part of the old golf course. At the bottom of the hill, we made our way across Kyle Canyon Wash and over to the Acastus Trail where the red gravel meets the gray gravel. A right turn put us on the way up to Fletcher Canyon Trailhead via the Acastus Trail. All of us were similar in conditioning so we started up at a decent pace.

The Acastus Trail
 There was still fall color on the trees down near the wash and the color extended into the shadows of the mountain sides. There was a lovely blue sky!

Through the Campground
 The Acastus Trail is dotted with information signs that deliver facts about the Spring Mountians. After the gravel trail ran out, we hiked through a picnic/campground area.

Acastus Trail Information Signs

Passing the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead
 Finally, we came to the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead and stopped for a restroom break. There were very few cars in the parking lot here. We crossed the road where they have painted nice new crosswalk lines and headed up the Fletcher Canyon Trail. On our way, we puzzled over which peak above us was Fletcher Peak. There is one point from the trail that made it very clear which peak is the familiar destination. We stopped a few times but, again, we were all looking for a workout that matched our abilities. (As far as moi goes, I had to work to keep up at times after my trip with very little exercise!) Soon, we were entering the narrows of the tall canyon walls.

Hiking up Fletcher Canyon Trail
 The trail stays on the left side of the canyon but use trails have been made in the wash to the right. We stayed on the left and got the extra exercise of going up and down the small hills.

Through the Trees
 The sun was beginning to reach into the narrow rock walls making photo metering difficult.

Into the Narrows

Fletcher Canyon Narrows
 But, the shadows made the experience a little more eery. It would be a nice place for a Halloween hike! We hiked and scrambled up the familiar trail taking note of the dead and dried up Rough Angelica (aka Mt. Charleston Angelica). The end of the narrows is blocked by a very large boulder that got stuck in a narrow opening, eons ago, that everyone calls Obstacle Rock. This is the traditional ending to the Fletcher Canyon hike. Although, there is a rabbit hole that provides entrance up to the canyon above the boulder. For today's hike, we stopped here and had our break talking about club business. When we had just gotten up to leave, a few young people were hiking in with rock music blasting. Hmmm. What's the point of hiking? Just go to the gym. Other people like to hear the loud music there!

Obstacle Rock
Luckily, we got out of earshot very quickly within the limestone walls.

Slippery Water Chute (Dry)
 Our trip down canyon went quickly as it seemed the pace picked up. What a beautiful place this is!

Descending out the Narrows

Autumn Color on the Fletcher Canyon Trail
 We reached the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead and crossed the bridge over to the Acastus Trail. A left turn took us back down next to the wash. We passed through the campground again and connected to what used to be signed "Kyle Wash Trail" at the end of the picnic area. Now, they just call the whole thing Acastus Trail. When we came to the red gravel, we turned to the left onto our old part of the golf cart path. It's a messy crossing of the wash then we hiked up the steep cart path hill. At the road, we turned to the right and returned to our cars. Beautiful morning!

7 miles; 1100 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Autumn Color on the Acastus Trail

Approaching Today's Trailhead

View down Canyon from Road Climb

Does not reflect today's trailhead.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Slots of Fun / Big Dune - Valley of Fire - 10/16/18


Super Tuesday found about ten strong club hikers in the Valley of Fire State Park where Brian was leading an encore of the Slots of Fun / Big Dune (aka Dunes & Slots) hike in the northwest corner of the park. These photos say it all! Brian's stats say the rest:

4.6 miles (perceived as much more!)
1200 ft gross gain.
Moving average 2.2 mph
Overall average 1.3 mph
Moving time 2:06 h
Stopped time 1:32

Monday, October 1, 2018

South Loop Autumn Photo Essay - 9/30/18

Aspen Grove in 2005 Avalanche Field (12pm)
Follow along with Rita and Kay B. (me) up and down the South Loop with autumn color. Enjoy!

Starting Up the South Loop (8am; 1/2 mile up)

Setting Moon above Echo Cliffs

Shadows among rising Sunlight

The Steps Section
 Two club members opted to stay in the mountains today and hike the South Loop in an attempt to capture the amazing beauty of the changing aspens and the clear air. Hurricane Rosa was on her way up the Baja and into Arizona but Las Vegas was catching some strong winds and will have a couple of days of rain. (Nothing like what Arizona will endure.) Rita and I stepped out of the car into the strong wind ravaging the trailhead parking lot. However, we knew that much of the south southwest wind would be blocked by the mountains on the South Loop Trail. After saying hello to another club member who was also preparing for a small group hiking up the South Loop (Larry S.), we headed up the trail. It was chilly! We needed to warm up so up we went.

Techno Aspens!

Top of Steps Section

Hikers climb the First Switchbacks

Amazing Color


 We didn't know how far we would hike. Just going up! As it turned out, there were many many Sunday solo and paired hikers heading up today. Everyone had the biggest smiles on their faces! Las Vegas had just endured a very hot /wet summer and the coolness was sooo welcome. After about half a mile, we turned the corner above the aspen wash field that was the result of an avalanche in 2005. The morning sun lit the aspens up like fire on the lower reaches of the grove as we hiked through them on the trail. The Echo Cliffs above were still blocking the sunlight of the upper parts so photos were difficult to meter from the bottom of the steps section up to the First Switchbacks. A little bit of photoshop rendered the "Techno Aspens" in the photo five photos up from this paragraph! I couldn't resist. (Kinda cool though, huh?)


Nearing First Overlook

View over to North Loop Aspen Grove

Wilderness Sign (2 miles)

A Switchback between First and Second Overlook
Since I was stopping for billions of photos, it took us a while to hike up through the first switchbacks! We passed through the First Overlook where a group of hikers were playing with hammocks. (hmm) Then we continued up the next long switchbacks passing the wilderness sign, crossing the cliffy wash and on up to the Second Overlook. Here, we quickly grabbed a photo of the arrival of Rosa's front cloud bands. They were not intimidating but really beautiful. By the end of the hike, they were actually kind of surreal looking with sharp edges and very very thick. As we neared the ridge above, we watched the clouds moving extremely fast from south south west to northeast. We were still being shielded by the mountain, but every once in a while we would get a cold blast! We had tied knots in our hat strings!

Rosa's Clouds Building at Second Overlook (Charleston Peak)

Griffith Peak Overlook

Peering down Last Switchback before Saddle (Harris Peak)

Approaching "Train Station" Saddle

Trail Sign on Saddle (~10,500')
 We passed the Third Overlook and the clouds had already changed to a thicker display. Rita and I agreed that we could go further and we continued climbing. There wasn't a lot of autumn color in this area so we didn't stop for photos much until we reached the Griffith Peak overlook corner. From there, we tackled the last few switchbacks up through the grassy field. It was here that we passed another club member, Kay T. We said "hi" and she warned us that the saddle was very windy and cold. Not a place to stick around for very long today. She was not the only hiker to have informed us of the saddle weather and when we reached the very last short switchback to the saddle, we heard the wind howling above us. It sounded like a freight train! At this point, we still didn't feel the wind and were still fairly comfortable. Weird. Then, we hiked up the last few feet....

Just below Saddle (out of wind)

Third Overlook (Charleston Peak)

Heading Down the First Switchbacks

Hiker among the Aspens

View down Kyle Canyon from Switchbacks (before noon)

Colorful Wash below Griffith Peak
 Yep! The wind was howling. The air was very cold. There was no one hanging around. We took our photo then dropped back down the trail a few feet to take our break. The view down Kyle Canyon was so clear, unusual. We just sat and enjoyed it. From there, our descent was uneventful after passing Larry and his group who were almost up to the saddle. We grabbed a photo at the Third Overlook since the clouds were looking better than before. But, when we reached the aspen grove again, the photos started again! Now, with the sunlight covering the upper reaches of the yellow aspens, there was a new set of photos to be taken! I hope you enjoy the photos I have offered on this blog. The first photo was taken on our way down but, starting with the second photo, you can hike along with us all the way up and down the South Loop Trail in autumn technicolor!

8 beautiful miles


Starting Steps Descent

Shadows Gone at Midday

Last View back at the Aspen Grove