Sunday, February 27, 2011

River Mountain Trail (5 mile partial) - 2/27/11

It was a morning of signs on the paved walkway of Boulder City's River Mountain Trail. We began at the trailhead which is located just north of St. Jude Ranch and ended at the Railroad Pass Casino on Highway 93. This is only 5 miles of the 34 miles allocated for the trail which runs around the River Mountains on the outskirts of Boulder City, Henderson and Las Vegas.

Six members of the Around the Bend Friends casually did the five miles pointing out the signs along the way. We avoided bicyclists and joggers. We enjoyed the recently snow- capped mountain peaks in the distance. And, we talked pleasantly about anything and everything. We passed the Bootleg Canyon trailhead where the zip line ends and mountain bikers hop over hills. We passed the high point of our hike. And, we saw an old mine across the highway that few of us had ever noticed.

About two- thirds of the way into the hike, the sight- seeing Boulder City Railroad train made its way past us. It stopped at the Railroad Pass Casino then began its journey back into Boulder City backwards, caboose first.

We crossed the railroad tracks then began our last stretch of the hike passing an elite golf club situated on the hill above us to the right. A bridge crossed an arroyo below and we stopped to admire the landscaping of the golf club. A mountain waterfall slides down the mountain behind the clubhouse.

At the end of our Sunday stroll, 5 out of the 6 of us decided to take in the champagne brunch buffet at the Railroad Pass Casino. Mr. Grumpy Tiny made all of us a delicious omelette and we chatted until we were full. We all agreed that we should do this again ... do an easy to moderate hike on Sunday morning ending with a brunch buffet somewhere. Oops! Sounds like the buffet boys!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Black Mountain - Henderson - 2/17/11

There were eighteen hikers on this morning's hike up, up ... and up Black Mountain located in Henderson, Nevada. The morning was quite chilly in the southeast Las Vegas area with strong and arctic wind gusts. The hike coordinator (who was wearing shorts) bolted up the mountain at a fever pitch. (... probably hoping to warm up quickly!)

The group became spread out leaving a few of us behind but all eighteen, minus one who stopped on the ridge about 1/3 of a mile below the peak, made it to the top. At the top, magically, the wind was mild and the sun was warm. The book was signed and photos with the flag were taken. The panorama was crystal clear after yesterday's and last night's wind storms. And, the snack break was prolonged with immense enjoyment.

Going down Black Mountain is as big an ordeal as going up. The peak area which included around 500 feet in elevation is very steep and slippery. It becomes a scramble with use of two feet, two legs, two hands and sometimes two butt cheeks (... okay, the gluteus maximus). At any rate, a good workout was had by all down south in Henderson.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Liberty Bell Arch - 2/12/11

Fun! Fun! Fun! Fifty- five hikers showed up for an unusual trip to Liberty Bell Arch on a Saturday. At the trailhead, we divided into three groups. Don led the fast hikers. Chris led the medium hikers. And, Jane and Ann led the hikers who must have found some roses to stop and smell! Just kidding. The writer participated in the fast group, therefore, this entry will report on that portion of this morning's event. We parked at the "spanking new" paved White Rock Canyon parking lot, dropped down to cross under the Highway 93 bridge in Arizona, and hiked down the wash which is the beginning of the Arizona Hot Springs Trail.

Nine-tenths of a mile from the parking lot, we took the turn-off to the right which is marked by cairns. This is a small wash which leads over to the Liberty Bell Trail which can no longer be accessed from the highway as it used to be unless you do some scrambling to get over to it. Upon meeting the old trail and climbing the first hill, we saw our first big horn sheep. She was standing alone. She looked at us warily and cautiously walked away. At the second siting, she had joined her friend and they both disappeared over the edge of a steep hill.

We visited the old World War II era mining operation site where all the old relics still reside. In the photos above, you can see the skiff used to transport the mined ore; the buckets hanging outside the mine; and, a blurry photo of buckets still inside the mine where a small bit of light filters through from openings above. From the mine, we continued down another small wash. At the end of this wash, we spotted the big horns for a fourth time. It was now a herd of around eight females and they were headed in the same direction that we were going.

We began the upward portion of the trail from this wash. We could see the rock outcropping that contained the arch, however, the view was of the side of the outcropping. We would not be able to see the arch until we hiked up past this outcropping. Once we got past the arch and looked back, we could see the view in the first photo. Part of the new Hoover Dam bridge was also in view.

A shout from a few feet away alerted all of us of the fifth and final siting of the big horns. They were coming up over a nearby hill and we watched in awe as they skimmed the hillside like they were dancing on feathers. We stood there until they were out of sight then continued up the hill beyond the arch.

This hill had around four sections of climb. By the time we got to the top, we had climbed around 400 feet of elevation from the wash below. Add this gain to three other climbs throughout the 5.5 mile hike and there was a total of around 1000 feet in elevation gain. From the high point of the hill, this view of the bridge could be seen with the Colorado River flowing around 700 feet below us.

We took our break on this magnificent perch. Many photographs were taken of the river where kayaks and a motor boat could be seen. Twenty minutes later, the second group arrived from below. We stayed another five minutes then took our leave passing the third group on the way down to the arch area.

Reaching the arch area again, several hikers decided they wanted to stand inside of the arch which sits on a very high steep and slippery hill. Don led the small group up to the saddle then showed them how to access the arch from the other side. We watched from below where we were rewarded with a few photos of their accomplishment. Retracing our steps, with the exception of the visit to the mine, we returned to the cars the same way as we had come.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Painted Pinnacles - Valley of Fire - 2/9/11

Today's hike in the Valley of Fire State Park of Nevada was a Lone Mountain Hiking Club event to which the Around the Bend Friends were invited. In attendance were twenty- two members of the Lone Mountain Hikers and six members of the Around the Bend Friends. Brian led us into the heart of the park to see a beautiful area of colorful sandstone in the vicinity of the Silica Dome which he has named the Painted Pinnacles.

We hiked from the Silica Dome Trail parking lot through a small desert wash and arrived at the "Ooh Aah Point" of the hike. Peeking over the lip of the surrounding desert, we were presented with the photos above. After taking several moments for all photographers to find their photos, we scurried down into the sandy floor of the pinnacles.

There had been some talk about the discovery of ticks in the park during our last visit. Therefore, everyone was on the lookout for the ugly little critters. Brian found a tick on his clothes when he returned home this afternoon and took this photo of it. He said it is possibly a male bighorn sheep tick. If it is, it likely does not carry any diseases.

We hiked through the pinnacle area and entered a main wash which had very deep sand from beginning to end. Seen in the photo above are coyote tracks in the sand ahead of us. We had to leave the wash once to make our way around a particularly non-negotiable dry waterfall. We also saw the first brittlebush blooms of the season. The hike was around 4.65 miles but the sandy wash and the steep climb out at the end of the hike made the hike a doozy of a workout.

                                Brian Dodd's Valley of Fire Hikes (Nov. 2012)