Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bristlecone / No Name Loop CCW - 7/27/14

Bristlecone on No Name Trail

Dropping Down from Upper Bristlecone Trailhead

 Eight hikers came out early for a Sunday hike around the Bristlecone Loop (counter-clockwise) at the top of Lee Canyon in the Spring Mountains. Our plan was to add the No Name Trail into the loop if the weather conditions were good when we reached the Bonanza Trail junction. We parked at the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead and wasted no time in dropping down the hill, crossing the road, and passing the Lower Bristlecone parking area. The group was ready to roll! Everyone hiked all out up the easy forest road section of the Bristlecone Loop.

Bonanza Trail Switchbacks
 At the Bonanza Trail junction, we regrouped and looked at the sky. Yep. "Let's do it!" And, up the Bonanza Trail switchbacks, we climbed. At the Bonanza Trail / No Name Trail junction, we took a short snack break.

Bristlecone on No Name Trail

 After a few minutes, we saw that the sky was suddenly turning a little dark so we took off down the No Name Trail. This part of the trail is a favorite in scenery and impressed a couple of newbies that were in our group. At the No Name saddle, we began our descent back to the upper Bristlecone Trail. At the lower elevation, we hiked through the aspen forest and returned to our cars. The hike went quickly and was probably nudged a little by the 40% chance of rain prediction in the forecast. But, as we climbed into our cars, there was a boatload of recreational hikers just starting up the trail.

(With the exception of the 2nd photo in this entry, the photos were taken on other hikes of these same trails. Battery died.)

6.6 miles; 1400 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Finishing at the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead

Bristlecone on No Name Trail

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lake Tahoe Club Excursion - 7/20 thru 25/14

A Waterfall on the Way to Grass Lake
The Around the Bend Friends took an excursion up to Lake Tahoe for four days of hiking. Jerry Thomas sent in the photos, GPS tracks and the write up for the trip. Definitely a good one!

Crossing a Stream on Grass Lake Trail
 Five hikers drove up on Sunday, July 20th.  There was a low pressure system making its way through the Lake Tahoe area and almost exactly when we arrived a electric power substation was hit by lightening blacking out South Lake Tahoe and other areas.  We drove into town and were greeted by bedlam.  All of the traffic lights were out along with electricity to everything.  To add to the pandemonium there was to be an outdoor concert that evening and a golf tournament was also in progress.  Probably the worst timing possible for a blackout. 

Chris at Grass Lake

The author took a shower in pitch blackness and hopped into bed since there was nothing else that could be done without electricity.  Five minutes later the lights came on.

Hiking Mt. Tallac with Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe in the Background

On the Pier at Lower Echo Lake
 Monday everything seemed like it was back to normal and the five hikers that had drove up on Sunday hiked up to Grass Lake.  It was only a 5 mile hike with a little over 800 ft of elevation gain but it was very beautiful with waterfalls and several stream crossings.  Tuesday was the big day when the most strenuous hike was to the summit of Mount Tallac.  There were three groups of about 12 hikers each.  One group went to the summit, the other two groups stopped before the very steep section just halfway to the summit.  The weather was gorgeous although one could tell that the humidity was higher than the Las Vegas area.

Upper then Lower Echo Lakes from Trail

On Wednesday hikers were in for a treat as we took a small power boat ferry from the far downstream side of Lower Echo Lake, up through Lower Echo Lake and to the far upstream side of Upper Echo Lake.  From there the three groups of twelve hikers did their own things with the most strenuous group tackling Ralston Peak.  Views of Desolation Wilderness were tremendous and the hikers were pleased to have a slightly easier hike than Mount Tallac.

Descending Ralston Peak with Aloha Lake in Background

Emerald Bay
On Thursday things were winding down and everyone took the trail around the rim of Emerald Bay.  Since this was not a wilderness area we did not have to break into smaller groups.  We were greeted early on in the hike by a juvenile black bear who was maybe one or two years old.  His mother was not nearby but a ranger was watching him closely and warned us not to get too close.  He seemed indifferent at the sight of humans perhaps seeing too many of us already.  We hiked on up the trail never again seeing the young bear or his mother.  It was another terrific outing of Around the Bend Friends with great weather (except for Sunday) and beautiful scenery. ~ Jerry Thomas

Juvenile Black Bear on Emerald Bay Trail

Grass Lake
6 miles; 800 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Mt. Tallac
10 miles; 3400 feet elevation gain; 6 hours

Ralston Peak
11 miles; 2500 feet elevation gain; 5.75 hours

Emerald Bay
5.5 miles; 700 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Thursday, July 24, 2014

North Loop / Raintree / Fletcher Canyon - 7/24/14


Fletcher Canyon's Obstacle Rock Area

 After all was said and done at the meeting place, eleven hikers decided to do the point to point hike from the North Loop trailhead to the Fletcher Canyon trailhead. The hike was a first for the club and so was the fact that we ended up with four coordinators! Sharing our time in the lead, the four coordinators managed to figure out the car arithmetic and get all eleven hikers up to Raintree via the North Loop Trail and find our way down to the Fletcher Canyon trailhead where we had sufficient cars to get everyone where they needed to go!

Climbing the North Loop Trail
Our hike up the North Loop was set at a moderately strenuous pace. Most of the group stayed together for most of the time. Everyone stopped at the meadow to wait as the last hikers hiked in.

North Loop Eye Candy

 The North Loop switchbacks came next. Again, the pace was accommodating everyone although we did seem to get more separated for this leg of the hike. No one was left behind and, one by one, we reached the high point corner of the North Loop. This corner lies at an elevation just over 10,000 feet. It is also the high point of this hike. From this corner, we knew that it was all downhill ... no, really!

Climbing the North Loop Switchbacks
 We had gained our 2000 feet and were now looking at a descent of 3000 feet, or thereabouts. We began dropping and quickly reached Raintree where we had our first break of the day.

Raintree and Signage for Mt. Charleston Peak

 We enjoyed the cool air while we sat under the 3000 year old tree. The weather was great up there in the higher elevations and the sky was blue, blue, blue. After the last bite and the last photo, we continued our trek past Raintree on the North Loop heading toward the Trail Canyon saddle junction. This section of the trail has views of Fletcher Peak and Cockscomb Ridge. These are the topographical landmarks that are boundaries for Fletcher Canyon, our target that lies between.

Hiking Down the North Loop Trail Toward Trail Canyon
 This is probably the easiest part of the hike and we stayed together as a group very well.

Cockscomb Ridge and Mt. Charleston Peak

 Unfortunately, being grouped together raised concern when we met with a horse and rider head on on a very narrow trail. The rider gave us direction to pass by the horse on its downhill side very close to the large beautiful animal. The horse was very polite and didn't kick anyone! Just after this, we reached the wash junction where we needed to turn left. We started down the wash and realized quickly that there would be some scrambling involved. We warned each other that the limestone was likely slippery and proceeded cautiously.

Starting Down the Wash Toward Fletcher Canyon
 Every once in a while we could decipher a semblance of a trail. This wash is not used a lot but we were not the first.

The wash requires some scrambling!

 We carefully dropped down through the wash and found trails on either side of it from time to time. Unless more hikers use the wash, the wishy washy wash will remain an exploration! However, we knew we were in the correct wash and eventually, we spied the big boulder landmark through the woods on our right. This is the huge boulder sitting at the bottom of the hill just above the beginning of the real Upper Fletcher Canyon trail. We ducked under the fallen tree hanging over the stream and started down a clear trail right here just after water started flowing from a spring.

Dropping into Upper Fletcher Canyon
 Following the trail includes following several different trodden routes. All the routes are in or beside the stream bed.

Up and Around a Waterfall

 There was a decent amount of water flowing in the upper part of the canyon. We followed the easiest routes we could find. There are a couple of spots that need to be known. The first is an up and around a waterfall. A photo of the around and down part is above. The second is a trail that is covered with brush that leads up the hill to the right. This enables hikers to avoid having to drop into a small slot canyon. Other than these two spots, well, just stay in or near the wash!

Entering the Vicinity of Obstacle Rock
 The walls start getting higher and narrower as you get into the area above Obstacle Rock.

Above Obstacle Rock

 Today, our excitement grew as we stepped up to the top of Obstacle Rock. We had several newbies with us that had never dropped through the rabbit hole before. We cautioned them about how slippery the hole had become over the years and talked about exactly how to slide through. Yet, after the instructions, they were on their own and everyone proved to be fabulous rabbit hole dancers.

We took another small break at the bottom then hiked out the last 2 miles in hot sun.

The Rabbit Hole Dance
 7.5 miles; 2128 feet elevation gain; 3018 feet elevation loss; 5 hours; 11 hikers; 5 cars

Hiking Out Lower Fletcher Canyon