Saturday, October 31, 2009

First Creek - 10/31/09

So, it's Halloween and 25 hikers came out to hike the First Creek Trail. Boo! The First Creek Trail is a short easy trail that ends at the foot of the escarpment for rookie hikers and only begins at the escarpment for the more advanced. At that point, the trail, per se, disappears and it is replaced by boulder scrambling into the canyon beyond. Today, we stopped at the boulders which resulted in a 3 mile, out-and-back hike in the desert with very little elevation gain.

Near the turn around point of the hike, we dropped down into the wash to see in what state the grotto was. Many times, there is a small waterfall into a relatively large pool of water where animals go to belly up to the bar. However, at this time of year, the waterfall is dry and the pool exists with a foul smell and a ghoulish black color. Looking at the pool, we felt like the creature from the black lagoon was going to appear from its depths any minute. However, when we climbed above the pool, a beautiful picture of reflection appeared as seen below.

It's the creature!!! I thought he had flippers and a head fin! No! No!

It was a beautiful morning with a surprisingly high temperature in the sun.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cave Canyon - 10/29/09

Seven hikers braved the morning cold wind and nasty weather forecast and showed up for the Cave Canyon hike. As it turned out, the canyons we conquered shielded us from the wind and the cold and we were very comfortable for 80% of the hike. During the other 20%, we were out in the open, unprotected from the elements.

The hike begins at the horse stables located across the highway from the Red Rock scenic loop. We hiked up past the stables on the right and dropped down into the canyon. Bearing to the left, we began hiking a beautiful canyon filled with a lot of fun scrambling. Soon, we came upon one of the caves that gave this canyon its name.

After exploring this cave for a few minutes, we returned to the trail. We turned left again when we were nearing the top, to an arm of the canyon that came to a stop at a twenty foot dry waterfall that can only be negotiated by climbing up the rock in one of 4 directions.

We each chose our fate and scrambled up. At the top, we soon came to a bike trail and turned left yet again. The trail led us around the rim of the canyon then turned to the right and headed straight up the hill past a small communications station complete with solar panels. The views of Red Rock Canyon and the escarpment were exquisite, full of color.

When we arrived at the top of the hill, we were rewarded with this amazingly clear view of the city. You could see all the way to Arizona including Lake Mead. The wind that we have had for the past 3 days has presented us with this gift.

Along the way, we found that the red barrels were bright red from a recent rain. We also found many fossils of shells and other sea creatures in the rock bed of the canyon.

We took our break at the overlook then proceeded around the rim of the hill towards the Muffins. Upon reaching the old Las Vegas overlook, we turned inward and found the trail that leads down through Skull Canyon. It was a quick trip down through this equally beautiful canyon then out past the other horse stables and back to the car. The complete hike was 6.6 miles with 1200 feet of elevation gain.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Calico Tanks - 10/24/09

It was the Around the Bend Friends' first official hike at Red Rock; it was a be-'u-tiful day; the atmosphere was uplifting as volunteers around the park were giving things a facelift; and ... 39 hikers showed up for the 2.5 mile jaunt on the most beautiful trail at Red Rock! We would like to welcome several new hikers that we signed up this morning and, please, don't be strangers!

Our line of hikers stretched over the trail below the looming Turtlehead Peak as we started out. Some hikers were experiencing Red Rock Canyon through hiking for the first time. Yes, it IS rocky ... but that's the gorgeous desert! The photog hopes you will accept the long showing of photos presented here. It was just such an exceptional day!

The trail begins from Sandstone Quarry on the scenic loop hiking past the quarry signs around the bend to the right and up the canyon wash. The trail was augmented long ago with rock steps in several places. At several points, there is so much sand that you feel like you are on the beach. Eventually, you arrive at the top of the wash and you see below you a large area which usually has quite a bit of water in it. Today, however, it was still dry from last spring. In fact, all the tanks we saw today were dry as a bone.

Hiking past the dry water tank, we found a nice spot to sit on the overlook. From this point, you can see the Las Vegas Strip, Calico Basin, Red Springs, and the mountains surrounding our city. After the break, we organized a small group of 11 people to hike up the hill and see three more tanks while taking in a more inclusive view of Red Rock.

After taking one last photo of the fantastic view, we proceeded to the tight wash that leads up to the top of Calico II Peak. The first step is the most difficult requiring teamwork. So one by one, we got past the first step and on up the wash while battling scratching brush, steep steps, and dead logs across our path.

We reached the top of the short interesting climb and enjoyed the view for a few minutes. The summit itself was filled with unusual sandstone formations. The view around us was uninterrupted. The group was mesmerized by the sight, and then, much discussion was made about the descent. Each hiker was to choose whether he or she would go back down the way they came up or try the way with ...(wait for it) ... lots of exposure!

Well, as it turned out, 2 hikers went back down the wash, 7 hikers took a fright-filled yet exciting trip down the side of the mountain and 2 hikers began the "fright hike" and opted for another route full of exploration. The 7 of us that took the "fright hike" looked at our "segment coordinator" with doubtful eyes, made sure she had plenty of lead (if she fell off the mountain, they would not go there), and learned a few new tricks ... like, "don't look down!" We all got down safely not very long after the main group had left the big tank. As we hiked out for the next 45 minutes, there was plenty to talk about. Everything was said from "I can't wait to go back up there!", to "I'm glad I did it once but I won't do it again!"

Anyway, another wonderful day around the bend now showing at Red Rock Canyon!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mud Springs - 10/22/09

The Mud Springs hike actually begins with an exciting ride 2.85 miles out Mack Canyon Road. This small road which is used for camping is located not far past the Sawmill Trail picnic area. It starts out decent enough but the further one drives, the worse the bumps get; therefore, a high clearance vehicle is required.

After reaching the trailhead which is somewhat hidden at the right side of the road, 18 hikers started off on the undulating path which ascended and descended the same 100 feet several times over the course of the 5 mile out-and-back hike. We hiked below Mack's Peak for most of the time in a wooded area with nice views of the peak and the desert below. One of the ridges held a giant joshua tree which seemed to be a bit out of place among the white pines and juniper.

At around 1.4 miles, we reached the first mud spring which was surrounded by a barbed wire fence and posted with the sign seen to the right. It is difficult to get 18 hikers in a long line to be quiet but there didn't seem to be any elk in the area at that moment anyway. We saw plenty of scat but no elk were drinking at one of their favorite watering holes.

We passed a second mud spring which looked similar to the first then made our quietest approach to the third and final spring. Again, no elk. However, since the elk were not at home, we were able to cross a low part of the fence going into the spring area where we got the photo above.

We ate our snack at the third spring and waited hoping to see an elk wander in but "nothin' doin'." The trip back out from the spring was very pleasant. Some of the best views are seen better on the way out. We were careful to retrace our steps correctly as this trail can be deceptive otherwise. In fact, a small boy was lost in this area for 3 days a few years back. They found him and he was fine but ....

We found this vertebrae bone in the area. As you can see, to the right, it is very large. Perhaps it either belonged to one of the elk or maybe a horse or burro. We all enjoyed the hike and hope we remember the location at a future time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sawmill Trail - 10/17/09

Today's hike around the Sawmill Trail was very pleasant with 31 hikers and ideal weather ... maybe even a bit warm.

The Sawmill Trail starts in the Sawmill Picnic Area which is 12 miles up from Hwy 95 on Lee Canyon Rd. It leads through a light density of pine growth and up to the top of a hill which overlooks the area. Mummy's Chin Mtn. is seen in one direction (as seen in the first picture) and the desert playas (seen below) in another.

Still to another side, we saw the range of peaks which represent the Spring Mtn. Divide. Among these peaks are Bonanza Peak and Wheeler Peak; and Mack Peak stood out in front. Wheeler Pass was also in view which is the small dip in the range that the road from Cold Creek to Pahrump passes through when conditions warrant.

We relaxed on the hilltop with a good view of the desert for our break then Ann led us down a road to the parking lot which completed the three and a half mile loop. At the end of the trail, there is a "STOP" sign. So, we stopped. Below, you can see we took a picture to prove it!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fletcher Peak - 10/15/09

The Around the Bend Friends hiked up to Fletcher Peak today. Reports are invited.

A new addition to our website is being worked on. It is called "Chris' Hike Descriptions." We hope to arrange this feature so that a long list of hike descriptions offered by Chris will be at your fingertips. Simply go to the link provided in the column to the right and choose the first letter of the name of the hike. The hikes should be listed alphabetically. The list will be added to until all of our hikes are there.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bristlecone Trail - 10/10/09

What else can be said about the Bristlecone Trail this season? It is a 4 mile out and back hike with around 750 feet of elevation gain. The bristlecone trees are still beautiful. However, there were a few interesting things about this particular hike!

First, they opened the bunny slope called "Rabbit Peak" at the ski park found just before the trailhead. Furiously making snow this past 2 or 3 weeks, the ski slope managed to become the second ski slope in the nation to open this year! (Right behind one in Colorado.) Imagine that! And, yes, there were plenty of skiers and snowboarders already entering in on the fun. The 26 hikers could view parts of the slope and the activity thereon.

Second, even though there were still aspens full of yellow leaves on the sides of the ski slopes, all the yellow leaves in the aspens on the trail were now yellow and brown windswept leaves on the ground. They made a beautiful autumn picture while hiking.

Third, this was an extremely laid back group of hikers today! No one was in any particular hurry as the fall air was fresh and clear and relaxing everyone's mind and body. The leisurely hike took around 3 hours and hikers were strewn from one end of the trail to the other. Some made it to the Bonanza Trail junction and some didn't ... by choice. It was just a beautiful day in the Spring Mtns.