Thursday, December 23, 2010

Red & Black Mtns. via Bootleg Trails - 12/23/10

Finally! We are back on the trails. Geez, that was a lot of rain. We really needed it but ... all at once?!! Red Rock Canyon NCA flooded and closed along with Zion NP just over the border in Utah. Mesquite and a couple of smaller towns just north of there were really hit hard by flooding Virgin and Muddy Rivers. For them, it was not a happy time at all. In Las Vegas, we had flooding but it was kept to a minimum by the water channels that have been put into place. The Mt. Charleston NRA got a ton of snow and have dealt with their power outages. At any rate, for us hikers, the tenajas will be full now, the animals will have plenty of water through the winter, and obstacles in a few of the well-hiked canyons will be changed around.

Therefore, twelve hikers who were all feeling a little of the cabin fever got together this morning for a hike which began on the Bootleg Trails in Boulder City. This was a new hike for the Around the Bend Friends which essentially turned the out and back Red and Black hike into a loop around Red Mountain adding both summits to the loop at the saddle.

Santa's helpers were among the hikers today. The 7.3 mile loop began by hiking around the west side of Red Mountain. The trail lead parallel to the dirt road which is used to take people up to the beginning of the zip line and the huge antennae array situated on one of Red Mountain's peaks.

Although the Strip was visible for much of the west side of the hike, the clouds covered the snow capped mountains across from us. This photo (above) which was taken early on shows the best view of the snow covered Griffith Peak and Mt. Charleston. Mummy Mountain is also peeking over the clouds on the right side. When we got to the saddle between Red and Black Mountains, we turned left and climbed Black Mountain first.

From the top, we saw Lake Mead, a partial view of the new Hoover Dam bridge, Boulder City, and the water- filled (normally dry) playa which lies next to the highway that leads south to Laughlin. We ate a snack here while enjoying the views. The clouds laid low over the horizon and soon obscured the sun which had kept us quite warm. As the temperature dipped, we got back on the trail.

After hiking back down to the saddle, we began our climb up to the top of Red Mountain. When we reached the top zip line platform, we saw approximately eight big horn sheep across the canyon from us. They posed a few times then returned to their foraging. One big horn had a wide black collar around his neck. The BLM folks keep track of the sheep as best they can.

Reaching the top of Red Mountain, we were still watching the big horns. The view from here isn't quite as spectacular as it is from Black Mountain even though it is slightly higher in elevation. We enjoyed it anyway then headed back down to the saddle once more.

From here, we hiked down the trail toward the River Mountain trailhead on Hwy 93.

Instead of continuing to that trailhead, we turned to the right and hiked across the base of Red Mountain on a roll-y poll-y bike trail. Soon, we were hiking past the end of the zip line and into the parking lot where we started about 4 hours earlier.

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