Tuesday, August 24, 2010

South Loop (1st Overlook) - 8/21/10

Chris offered this report on Saturday's hike up the South Loop. Thanks Chris!

Forty hikers showed up this morning for a trek up the South Loop Trail and another chance to experience the beauty of the pine and aspen forest in the Spring Mountains. As has been the norm this summer, the weather was beautiful and there wasn't the slightest chance of the monsoon spoiling our day.

The Spring Mountain trails have been very popular this year and the Cathedral Rock parking area we use for this hike was already full, so we were forced to park along the road and in the lower Cathedral pull-off. The pit toilet at the Cathedral Rock trail head was kept busy for nearly fifteen minutes before we could head out on the trail. Seniors need their morning coffee, you know. Finally, we organized the entire group and headed for the Cathedral Rock Picnic Area and the start of the South Loop Trail.

At the South Loop trail head, we divided into two equal sized groups. Ann took her group on a slightly longer route through lower Echo Canyon using social trails that weren't quite as steep and the rest headed up South Loop toward the overlook. The group with Ann did not intend to climb all the way to the overlook but had as their target a picturesque spring in Echo Canyon a few hundred feet lower than the overlook. For the rest of the hike the two groups remained separated but, as they were hiking in the same canyon, could see each other from time to time and kept in radio contact.

The last part of the climb to the overlook is over a series of 14 switchbacks. At the seventh switchback is Fossil Rock, a two-foot slab that contains a host of ancient seabed fossils. We were fortunate to have a geologist along who could tell us what each kind of fossil was and also tell us about the time frame when the rock was formed. Continuing on, we soon reached the overlook ledge where we were treated to a spectacular view of Kyle Canyon spread below us. Surprisingly, about half of the group had never been to that magnificent spot before.

Below us, the other group was having a snack near the spring where some water was cascading down an 8-foot cliff waterfall, providing a great backdrop for their break. Above the small cliff was a large patch of late blooming purple flowers that also contributed to the setting. Many of our hikers, including Guy, had never been to that spot, so the day was turning out to be one of first experiences for many.

Finally the time came to pack our things and head back down the trail. With such a beautiful day we could have spent hours soaking up the surroundings, but duties called us back to Las Vegas. Everyone returned safely and had another memory of a wonderful jaunt in the Spring Mountains.

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