Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mary Jane Falls - 6/13/09

Thirty-five hikers showed up today to hike to Mary Jane Falls.

The large group headed up the trail despite predictions of rain that never material- ized. There was a steady climb for about a mile and a quarter. Then the switchbacks began. The group had decided to spread out so that each hiker could hike at their own pace so the switchbacks became filled with friends.

The Mary Jane Falls trail is just over three miles up and back with around 900 feet of vertical gain. The trailhead is found off of Echo Road which leads off of Kyle Canyon Road. It is a very popular trail among Las Vegans but there is a large parking lot which was filled past capacity when we returned to the car 2.5 hours later. The trail is wooded and well-maintained with many erosion nets laid out on the hillside.

After several switch- backs, the trail leads up a series of man-made rock steps. These stairs can be a challenge since they appear at the end of the climb. Even though this trail is relatively short, it does present a good aerobic workout requiring a steady pace upward. Along the trail the pines were producing red berries.

Arriving at the top, we found a small glacier of snow ice which was slowly melting creating snow tunnels underneath the formation. The rounded glacier, itself, was approximately twelve feet square. Jim had to do it! Really ... who can resist the temptation of posing inside a glacier tunnel in Las Vegas in June??

Above us and all around, the water of Mary Jane Falls was sliding down and over the large U-shaped rock wall. There were three or four paths that the water was taking as it fell over the cliff which was maybe 50 feet high. The wet and dry wall surrounding us was filled with decorative colors and textures; ripe for natural pop-art.

From here, many of us took the small trek over to the cave which is located on around the wall to the right. From the mouth of the cave, there is a nice view of Kyle Canyon from which we hiked. Jim, again, was pleased to pose for the camera to balance out the view as the photog sat just inside the cave. We chose this great spot for a snack and a rest.

Looking back to our left, you could see the waterfall area which reminded us of an amphitheater. Several hikers had stayed there to take in the views and listen to the sounds of the water coming over the cliff. Also from the cave, you can see parts of the trail so we sat and watched some of the hikers finish the climb. It took about thirty minutes for the last hiker to reach the falls after the first hiker had arrived. We sat and enjoyed for quite a while and then eventually everyone was ready to return to the real world.

Below is a view from the falls towards the cave. Note the snow still hanging from nearby mountains in the distance.

Try to ignore the wild bounces of the GPS waypoints and find the route we took up to the falls with the help of Google Earth.

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