Thursday, April 18, 2019

Liberty Bell Arch - 4/18/19

Four Tough Hikers!

It was 117˚ on the Colorado River today. Only the tough guys (and Tonya) showed up. We locked the gate to White Rock Canyon as we left this morning. Too damn hot. Closed till Thanksgiving.

The forecast indicated that a high of 91 degrees should be expected in the Liberty Bell Arch area today. But, I bet it felt like 117! Just a reminder: the White Rock Canyon Trailhead is closed from May 15th to October 1st every year. Please be smart and stay out of this area during the hot time of year if you are hiking. Kayaking in to the area is a good suggestion. And, no matter what, always bring lots and lots of water. We're not kidding, folks!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Spring Blooms at Hoover Dam 2019

Ron and Sandi were out at Hoover Dam yesterday and were very impressed with the flower display! For those of you who have not been able to go out to Lake Mead NRA, here are a couple of Ron's pics.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Gypsum Jump Overlook - 4/7/19

The Gypsum Jump Overlook view to South

Blue Diamond Gypsum Mine - Overlook Top Right in Foreground

Scars from Gypsum Mining in North Blue Diamond Hills

Joshua Tree in rare Full Bloom (Bridge Point Peak)
 According to Google Earth's satellite photos of the western side of the North Blue Diamond Hills, a couple of new trails have cropped up. Today, eleven hikers explored one of those trails. In May of 2017, the satellite photos showed that the trail we hiked today only went to a certain point on the western ridge and without any extension of the trail around the overlook corner. Now, in April 2019, we proved that the trail leads all the way to the "peak" of the ridge then continues down from there as seen in the first photo of this entry. (We are probably a little late to the party because the trail appears that it has been there for a long while!)

Finding small Game Trail Connection from end of Conglomerate Gardens Trail
 We assumed it was a bike trail since the trail zigzags up the hills making the ascent and following descent gentle and gradual. However, today, a Sunday, we did not see any bikers.

Blooming Mojave Yucca, Game Trail and Target "V" in Ridge Beyond
 Researching the route, I saw that the trail was not easily accessible by any known route in the Hills except for the dirt road that is gated at SR 159. One could argue that the hike could begin at that gate but the gate should not be blocked at any time. (See the last map below.)

Target "V" in Ridge from dirt road Crossing

Connecting with a very nice Trail
 Therefore, we started our hike at the Cowboy Trails Trailhead today to make our way across the desert to the "V" in the western ridge where we would pick up the worn trail. The hike would turn out to be a solid moderate hike as an out and back. Through the ranch gate, we took a sharp right and dropped into the wash next to the trailhead. A little further up, the Conglomerate Gardens (Kibbles 'n' Bits) Trail comes out of the wash on the left. Follow this trail shortly until it makes a sharp right turn around a boundary of piled dirt. After the turn, go straight finding a game trail junction that is barely discernible. Then, follow the burro tracks! They know where they are going!

Yucca Bloom in front of Calico Hills
 This game trail drops into the wash. It does cross the wash but turning left into the wash works, too. We learned this coming back. So, just stay in the wash until there is a very small deep cut wash on the right side where we placed a cairn. I hope the cairn stays for a while!

Panorama from First Hill - Trail Continuation from our Junction
This little wash crosses the dirt road and shallowly leads up to the worn trail junction in the ridge "V". Turn right onto this trail and you begin your zigzagging ascent.

Hike Points of Interest

Hiking a Moenkopi Layer of Limestone
 First, the trail zigzags up a small hill, then it crosses over to an intermediate hill with more zigzags. Finally, the trail perches atop the long western ridge of the North Blue Diamond Hills. Along the way, the views are unique and wide of the Calico Hills, the Sandstone Bluffs and the north and east North Blue Diamond Hills. The ascent continued along interesting terrain traveling through a Moenkopi layer of limestone. The cliffs on the east side became steeper and there is a very safe but thrilling view over toward the dirt road and the very old mining scars leftover from back in the day. The higher we got, the more we could see the southern portion of the Sandstone Bluffs and Mt. Potosi.

Climb continues on Neighboring Hill (Rainbow Peak-L, Bridge Point Peak-R)
 It was a mixed moderate crowd today and we all had no problem with the moving pace of 2.1 mph. We moved along taking note of lizards and flowers along the trail.

Easy Stepping Limestone Slab
 We passed the "end" of the trail as indicated on my GPS and saw that the very well maintained trail continued to the peak overlook. We were very happy about that!

Wide Views of Red Rock Canyon NCA

Well-Maintained Trail near Top
 Arriving at the overlook appeared that we had arrived at a bottomless clifftop! When we sidled over to the edge, we saw that the "cliff" would have been easily down climbed into the remains of the Blue Diamond Gypsum Mine but that would be crossing a private property boundary as claimed by the Corner Boundary Marker placed on the cliff rocks. The Red Rock Canyon NCA ended here but still continued down the ridge in the southern direction. I was surprised to see a long trail appearing that led down toward the old Oliver Ranch off of SR 159. (Not seen on the May 2017 satellite photo.) We took our break here on the overlook ruminating on how we can use these trails for the future.

Mt. Potosi and Sandstone Bluffs from our Gypsum Jump Trail
 We enjoyed our stay then started down. I asked the women behind me what I should call the hike on this blog. "Gypsum Overlook" and "Gypsum Jump Off" were two suggestions. I gave it some thought and went with Gypsum Jump Overlook. Maybe the bikers who created the trail would like that!

Taking a Break on the Gypsum Jump Overlook
 Descending the trail, we noticed an old mining claim. Interesting that it is still there. Also, "something" zoomed across in front of me so fast that it was a mere blur. Thinking it might be a kangaroo rat, I followed the blur until it stopped.

Corner Boundary Marker at Gypsum Jump Overlook

Starting our Descent
 Peeking out from behind a rock, we could see that it was a Great Basin Collared Lizard. These are larger than the common Side-blotched Lizards. It was an uncommon sight here at RRCNCA. We continued down the zigzags and dropped off the worn trail into the small wash, crossed the dirt road and continued into the larger wash where we placed a cairn. Finding the game trail out of the wash was not easy and we had to use the GPS but suffice it to say, this wash is the same wash that leads all the way to the trailhead. We always have a lot of fun doing new stuff! Great group today!

6.3 miles; 800 feet elevation gain; 3 hours; average moving speed 2.1 mph

Some of the "Cliffy" Trail Edge

Zigzagging down the Intermediary Hill

The Wash between Trailhead and Gypsum Jump Trail

Trail Relationship to Nearest Routes

Friday, April 5, 2019

Red Rock Canyon NCA Boundary (Full Map)

Entire RRCNCA Boundary (Some Documented Hiking Routes in Red & Green)
 As the city of Las Vegas grows, it is more and more important that we know the important stuff. These are the boundaries of some of our backyard play areas. Protect them!

Red Rock Canyon NCA = Pink
 Other indicated boundaries: Spring Mountains NRA=Green, La Madre Wilderness=Blue, Rainbow Wilderness=Lavender, City Parks=Small Green Outlines
Not indicated: Tule Springs NM and Desert NWR (both to the north of SR 95)

Monday, April 1, 2019

Guy Galante (1934 - 2019)

Always around for a laugh.
 Guy was a favorite hike coordinator of the Around the Bend Friends and member of the club since 1995(?). In 2012, Guy and Rosie got married and moved to Vacaville, California. We will always miss him. Rest in peace, Guy.

Always around for a helping hand.

Always around for a good scramble.

Always around with a needed strap.

Always around for a little adventure.

Always around for a conversation.

Always around for more scrambling.

Always around for an Uncle Vinny joke.

Always around for Pinto Valley Wash.

Always around for a new hike by the "young" girl named Kay.

Always around for talkative transportation!
The Good Ol' Days with Guy and the Gang

And, in the end, always around for Rosie.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Pumpkin Parfait Canyon - 3/30/19

Pumpkin Parfait Rocks

Lake Mead from Pumpkin Parfait Rocks

Recently Deceased Bighorn

Rogers Spring Picnic Area - MM 40 Northshore Road
Waaay up on Northshore Road at mile marker 40, there is a beautiful turnout and picnic area. An 80 degree pond sits among the area being fed by a free flowing spring. Palm trees surround the pond and signs warn of the amoeba in the water that could easily get into your brain through your nostril passage and have a feast! Thirteen hikers arrived here for the Pumpkin Parfait Canyon hike that I have not done in a few years. Why did I wait so long? This is the location of the major northeast-trending Rogers Spring fault.

Lake Mead from Trail starting Uphill
The trace of the Rogers Spring fault is marked by a line of discontinuous springs along the cliffs to the left of the Northshore Road. Springs occur here because movement along the fault has placed permeable rocks against impermeable rocks. Groundwater that easily flows through permeable fractures in the limestone and dolomite encounters less permeable basin fill at the fault.

Trail Uphill - Rogers Spring fault line Beyond
The basin fill acts like a dam, and water discharges from low points along the fault trace. The shallow groundwater, which reaches the surface in a few springs, is capable of supporting vegetation. 

 Geologic Tours in the Las Vegas Area (Expanded Edition with GPS Coordinates), Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Special Publication 16, University of Nevada, Reno, Mackay School of Earth Sciences, 2008, Bear Printing, Sparks, NV; page 76.

Almost to Top

Rest at Top of Hill
The hike starts out by crossing the bridge over the pond outlet and following a trail that goes west before it heads up the hill to the north. This is a gentle but lengthy climb up to the top of a ridge. While climbing, wide views of Rogers Spring fault line and Lake Mead spread out all around. Our pace was palatable by everyone participating. Then, at the top, we took a short breather with a lot of photos. Next, the trail dropped over the other side and eventually into a small wash. This route is considered a shortcut even though I think it's really just a chance to have some scrambling fun and warm-up before all the scrambling that was to come! This route is not as travelled as the longer route and a catclaw acacia covered the entrance of the small wash. We circled around the large bush as seen in the second photo below.

Dropping into the Shortcut Scramble Canyon
After this short but sweet wash, we emerged onto a flat desert terrain where Ralyn spotted a baby horned toad lizard. He was only 2 inches long and he was hiding the best he could while we took photos!

Shortcut Scramble Canyon
The trail led us to the upper half of the Pumpkin Parfait Canyon and we dropped in. It wasn't long before we were fully into a moderate scramble that lasted all the way up to the Pumpkin Parfait Rocks.

Points of Interest throughout Hike

Dropping into Pumpkin Parfait Canyon
On the way up, we went through a small slot, found several seabed fossils and honed our scrambling skills. At one point, the main canyon takes a left turn. This turn, in case you might miss it, is marked by some red sandstone color in the side of the mountain ahead. We made the turn and then the group began spreading out as some hikers began looking for fossils in the wash boulders. The scrambles were interesting and had offerings for hikers that wanted more of a challenge and less of a challenge in several of them. Only the hikers that stepped out in front caught a handful of ticks today. Why are they so bad this year?? 😧

Wardrobe Change on Warm Day
The best - and only - defense against the ticks is to just keep looking for them on your clothes ... and other hikers' clothes. (What are you lookin' at? ... Just a tick crawling up your pants!)

Chuck gains the Scramble
At the top of the canyon, we started to see color. First, red Aztec sandstone then the red faded into an orangey mustard color. Oh, ... pumpkin!

Randy climbs out of the Slot

Landmark Color marking Left Turn in Wash
We bouldered our way all the way up to the Pumpkin Parfait Rock Wall to have our break on the rocks where we could also see Lake Mead in the crosshairs of the canyon. It was a fantastic perch! As we sat comfortably, we noted that the rocks above us where the canyon climbed up to the ridge had probably been climbed by area rock climbers and adventurers. The last of the hikers came climbing up the last hundred yards having marked with cairns, the best of the fossils that they found. There were many! Then, after the break, we started the long scramble down the canyon leaving the colorful area. We noted the fossils when came back to the cairns that Chuck and John W. had placed minutes earlier.

Collage of Fossils from Pumpkin Parfait Canyon (2012)
The scrambles seemed completely different from the top down. For me, there was a lot of sitting and sliding. Or, as some would call it, five-point hiking. (Hey, it saves the knees!)

A View down Canyon in Fossil Area
Each time the group got a little too spread out, a call was made to wait and gather again. Today's wonderful hikers didn't seem to mind as we waited. It was a good time for tick-checks!

Approaching the Parfait Area

Taking a Break at the Pumpkin Parfait Rocks
As we passed through the slot, I didn't even realize that we had already passed the landmark color corner. We followed Chuck down past the flatter area of the wash; passing the large cairn marking where we had dropped into the upper Pumpkin Parfait Canyon. Now, we were entering the lower canyon. Immediately, there was a great double drop! Totally doable. Out the other side, we hiked down the wide open wash for a while navigating the loose sand gravel. Up on the right, we passed a loose circle of rocks. Ancient Piautes? No one seems to know but they are still there year after year. Next, the most scrambling of the whole hike ensued!

Gathering after Break
Compacted in just over half a mile, the lower part of Pumpkin Parfait Canyon offered obstacle after obstacle. Some hikers took the scrambles head on. Others found ways around.

Leaving the Colorful Area
The high walls filled with mysterious caves on either side of the canyon provided the right atmosphere. The imagination went wild ... again!

John drops into Slot

Cathy down climbs a Slide
Rita was in the lead with a couple of other hikers. We watched her face as she turned a corner and exclaimed something ... not sure what. Whatever it was, her faced said it was very exciting! I just hoped that whatever it was, it stayed there until I could get there with a camera! Yep. It stayed there! We turned that corner and there was almost a full skeleton of a male bighorn sheep lying in the canyon floor. (And, it definitely wasn't going anywhere!) It was so recently deceased that there was still fur on its skull. (No mutton left, BTW.) A mountain lion, somewhere, was sleeping it off. Circle of life. We took our photos and continued down the canyon.

Entering Lower Pumpkin Parfait Canyon
The scrambles became a little easier and finally, the canyon began to open up. At this point, we focused on the right embankment.

One of Many Obstacles in the lower Canyon
On a rock at the top sat a cairn. A small trail climbed up the embankment to the cairn. This is the climb out. If you miss it, the canyon wash circles around in the opposite direction taking you away from the trailhead.

Taking Obstacles one at a Time

Another Obstacle
We climbed up the trail and found a flattish trail route across the desert terrain. After a few steps, we could see the cars. Watch for interesting plants here as you make your way over. Today, we saw chollas that were in the process of blooming. Very frilly! The hike was very well received today and everyone had a great time. Some of us will be sore tomorrow! Let's not ignore this one for so long again!

6 miles; 1150 feet elevation gain; 4.25 hours; average scrambling/hiking speed 1.3 mph

And, Another

Climb out of Canyon as it Opens Out

Trail across to Trailhead