Thursday, October 21, 2010

Las Vegas Overlook via Boneshaker Hill - 10/21/10

The originally scheduled hike to Little Zion was postponed until next Thursday (Oct. 28th) due to the rainy weather we have been having here in the Las Vegas area. Today, the seven hikers who showed up for a hike were detoured to the Blue Diamond Hills. As it turned out, this was a good move on Chris' part since we observed the bad weather descend on the escarpment where Little Zion is located during our hike.

So, the seven hikers set out from the Red Rock Stables and horse corrals and headed toward the area of the Muffins, Skull Canyon and Boneshaker Hill. The clouds were already rolling into the mountain and canyon areas across Highway 159. However, we were enjoying sunshine and a beautiful spectacle of scenery.

We turned right and began a steep climb up the hill which bicycle enthusiasts enjoy calling the "Bone- shaker." The climb had few switchbacks during the first half mile and was quite a test. After reaching the top of the initial section, we began a much longer and more gradual ascent to the highest elevations of the Blue Diamond Hills.

The picture to the right was taken moments before the clouds engulfed Turtlehead Peak. We were still in the sunshine and were soon to be encircled by clouds on all sides with our donut hole of sunshine right in the middle overhead. Even though the clouds had begun making the escarpment do a disappearing act, so far, they looked relatively harmless. It was likely raining in the Willow Springs area but Little Zion was probably still dry albeit without much of a view.

When we reached the Boneshaker sign, the clouds across the highway were much more menacing.

Arriving at the overlook, we were able to sit for a minute in the sun. We could not see the Las Vegas Strip through the clouds. And, this large bird of prey (below left) circled us ominously. It wasn't long before the cold wind whipped up a bit and we found ourselves without sun. Time to move on!

Next, our hike took us along the edge of the cliff heading into the direction of the old Las Vegas Overlook. Passing a large puddle filled with recent rainwater, we were able to see the Calico Hills which were still in the sunshine. As we got closer and closer to the Calico Hills, we saw the light and shadows play across the colored rock.

We passed the old overlook, noted a new hitching post there for a new trail ride, passed a couple of horse and riders taking the new trail ride and began our hike along a ridge to the Muffins. It was interesting hiking the Muffin trail in reverse. Something new. We arrived at the Muffins and took in an incredible view of Red Rock Canyon which was now wearing a hat of black clouds and showing rain along much of the area.

We saw an unusual rainbow which hung over the canyon floor and Sandstone Quarry. It was rather flat and not high above the ground from our point of view. Some clouds were now hanging over us and we knew we were hiking on borrowed time. We quickly hiked down the switchbacks and back to the horse corrals. When we reached this area, it began to rain. We only had about a tenth of a mile to go. How lucky was this?

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