Thursday, March 31, 2011

Windy Peak - 3/31/11

Oh Happy Day! Our weather here in Las Vegas is GORGEOUS! And, today's hike to Windy Peak was the icing on the cake as seventeen members of the Around the Bend Friends Hiking Club made their way up, up, and up behind the escarpment of Red Rock Canyon NCA to find the second peak from the southern end. We started the hike at a roadside parking area at the Mountain Spring Pass on Highway 160.

"The first mile will get your attention," said Jane, today's Grand Poobah. ... And, it did! ... Up past the contro- versial new radio tower; up the road which has recently been made a trail; up to the junction of the Hollow Rock Peak Trail. We were still hiking among the limestone, agave and junipers as we continued up more and around to the right on a ridge which led to the sandstone of Windy Peak.

We reached the sandstone at a low saddle and began a precarious climb onto the rock as seen in the photo above to the left. All one needs is a pair of "sticky" shoes and the small climb with minimal exposure is in your rear view mirror in no time. Next, it is a tame scramble up, down, across and up over the sandstone to the peak.

Mt. Potosi watched from across Highway 160 as we enjoyed its view and surrounding views of the valley. The air was somewhat clear today and the Las Vegas Strip was visible in the distance. Neighboring peaks of the escarpment (Black Velvet to the north and Hollow Rock to the south) stood their ground with deep canyons guarding their prowess.

The highest point of Windy Peak sits about 50 yards back from the precipice at Cottonwood Valley. Here, we sat for a break and wrote our name in the well-used book. Wandering over to the edge, this writer found a well-sculpted cairn marking the end of the hike. The next step would be a big one!

We enjoyed the views and the weather then it was time to mosey back. Jane led us down, up and over the sandstone. We passed one large patch of snow hidden in a shady corner. No snow ball fights broke out, however, this writer believes she saw one hiker looking it over for possibilities.

The climb down that one precarious scramble seemed somehow easier to stomach and we moved onto the limestone once again. From here, the trail goes up steeply and, as always, ups are more difficult in the second half of the hike. Feeling the burn, we huffed and puffed until all we could see ahead of us was downhill.

We returned to that trail junction then continued straight for about a quarter mile. We turned right onto a burned out ridge and followed the ridge back down the mountain. At the bottom of the mountain, we hit a service road which led us back to our cars. It was a 5 mile hike with temperatures in the 70's.

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