Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bristlecone Trail - 6/20/09

According to Wikipedia, "The bristlecone pines are a small group of pine trees (Pinaceae Pinus Balfournianae) that are thought to reach an age far greater than that of any other single living organism known, up to nearly 5000 years."

Thirty-one hikers walked among some of those beautiful trees on the Bristlecone Trail found at the end of Lee Canyon Road just past the ski area. As one of the most pleasant trails in the Spring Mountains, it winds its way around through young and old bristlecone pines, limestone, aspens and wildflowers for an out-n-back length of 5 miles. The most elevation gain that one experiences on this trail is around 750 feet. The climb is gradual with a small descent as we reached the turnaround point at the junction with the Bonanza Trail.

For those wishing to make this a loop hike, the Bristlecone Trail continues at this point on a sun-washed fire road which descends around to the Lee Canyon Road at a lower point. From there, the hiker is left with a climb on the paved road to return to their car. It is normal for the Around the Bend Friends to do this hike on a Saturday using only the most user-friendly part of the trail!

The small peak of South Sister sits perky and proudly in view throughout most of the hike. At the junction with Bonanza Trail, a view of the backside of Mt. Charleston reigns in the opposite direction.

Many wildflowers graced the hillsides. Indian Paintbrush, Yellow Monkey Flowers, Periwinkle, white bouquets of something like Baby's Breath, Desert Sage and Firecracker Penstemons.

At the turnaround point, we sat for a snack and conver- sation. Many people had their cameras out in search of that great shot! The weather was quite cold when the wind kicked up but, for the most part, the sun won out with mild warmth as we watched the clouds zoom by above the ridge lines.

The hike back was quiet. Everyone seemed happy with their outing and simply wanted to enjoy the peace- fulness of the surrounding scene. The air was fresh with a slight perfume of pine floating about. The aspens fluttered in the breeze.

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