Thursday, May 5, 2011

North Peak (Sandstone) - 5/5/11

Twelve hikers began the hike to North Peak (Sandstone). Ten hikers completed the trip. It was a grueling climb and even more grueling descent but the views from the peak and the beauty of the surrounding area above the Escarpment made the climb worth the effort. (What's a few days without being able to walk?) We started up Rocky Gap Road around 8:00am for a 2.5 mile approach to the trail which takes off to the left.

The trail headed up at a very steep angle and, in the end, we had climbed around 2000 elevation feet in about 1.5 miles. The first half of the climb is dirt and loose rock on a bed of limestone. The second half gets even steeper but the sandstone slabs on which you hike make it a little more palatable. Finally, the sandstone begins to flatten out at the ridge. The peak comes into view and we curve around to the left to approach the final climb as seen in the first photo.

Seven hikers arrived at the peak, then one, then one, then one more. We wrote in the book and took a well- deserved break. Views of the Las Vegas Strip, Calico Hills, Spring Mountains and Bridge Mountain were all present and accounted for. The bridge on Bridge Mountain is seen in the photo to the left. Between our peak and Bridge Mountain, lies Ice Box Canyon. On a shelf above the canyon, there is a very well built and well equipped shelter which we could see below us. This was our next target.

In the second photo of this entry, the reader can see the side of the peak that we descended to get to the shelter. To the left is a photo of two hikers coming down the steep ramp just under the peak. Most of this descent is on sandstone slab. So, with a good pair of hiking shoes, grip was easily maintained.

When we reached the shelter, we saw that it contained a picnic table, stove, oven and benches made completely of rock. Two bighorn skulls had been hung on the anchoring tree. And, inside the oven, two hikers found a skateboard! Not much effort was made to impress on the skateboard but it was dangerously tempting to try! Closer to the drop of the canyon was a tinaja that held cool water.

After enjoying the area, we headed back up to the ridge, this time from the other side. We passed by Dragon Rock as seen below and began our steep plunge back down to Rocky Gap Road. The writer noticed that there wasn't a lot of talking during this phase of the hike. Concentration was the name of the game here. Don't slip. Save the knees. And, live to hike another day!

We completed the hike down Rocky Gap Road by 1:30pm. We had hiked a total of 8 miles with 2650 feet of elevation gain.

On the Way Out of Willow Springs

As we were driving out the Willow Springs spur road, we saw that a herd of male bighorns were grazing very close to the road to the left. Giving in to temptation, we stopped the car and took a few photos. The sheep were healthy and had really huge horns. The one in the foreground brazenly came down close to the road without much fear. On up the hill, the white bighorn (seen to the left) that everyone at Red Rock is talking about grazed contentedly.

Thanks, Jerry, for supplying the GPS images for us today.

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