Sunday, June 5, 2011

McFarland Approach - 6/5/11

Eight ambitious hikers set out today to hike to the foot of McFarland Peak utilizing the Bristlecone, No Name and Bonanza Trails. The hike would be 10.5 miles in length with approximately 2000 feet in net elevation gain. The weather for the hike was cool with a stiff breeze coming from the south. We were, however, quite comfortable as the exercise warmed us from the inside.

We began at the Bristlecone Trail trailhead and hiked about a mile to the No Name turnoff. At this point, we huffed and puffed our way up to the No Name high point which was another half mile away. Since this was categorized as a "training hike," we took as few breaks as possible throughout the day. Because of this, this first climb was quite a challenge. No photos were taken until we reached the bristlecone forest beyond since all energies were being used to get up the hill. In the photo to the left above, we gathered at the Bonanza Trail junction where we turned left onto Bonanza Trail. The photo to the right shows one of the climbs along the ridge.

The Bonanza Trail is beautiful in the morning light. The warm light cuts through the old and young bristlecones and bounces off of the light gray limestone rock. After crossing a few patches of snow on No Name Trail, we did not encounter more snow until about halfway across the Bonanza Trail. The snow was easily crossed or avoided by circling around. Mt. Charleston was constantly just behind our left shoulder and McFarland Peak loomed at a short distance ... 2 or 3 miles away ... in front of us.

As we made our final descent to the McFarland Peak Trail junction, snow and fallen trees across the trail increased. It may be a while before trail crews will be able to clear the trees. We hiked around the foot of McFarland Peak until the trail began switchbacking down. Here, at the junction, we stopped for our lunch break. Sandwiches, tuna and power bars were munched as we enjoyed a kaleidoscope of conversations and a view of Pahrump in the distance.

After our refresh- ments, we stood for our return hike which was planned as a reverse of what we had done to get there. We stayed on the nearby ridge in those sections where snow covered the trail and came across a rather large wind shelter seen in the photo to the left. The climb back up to the high point of the hike was tough on tired hamstrings. The coming descent was tough on tired knees. But, the ambition in the eight hikers persevered.

At 12:48pm (approx- imately 4.25 hours into the hike) we turned right onto the No Name Trail. We were making good time. We hiked through the final bristlecone forest, made the steep descent down to the Bristlecone Trail then casually hiked back to the cars. Our first "training hike" of the season was under our belts. What did we learn? You must "amble" for 2 to 3 minutes when starting out so that your body figures out that you are exercising. You must be able to talk while hiking for best metabolic velocity (or something like that). You must not be able to sing or you may not be pushing yourself hard enough. If you get out of breath, you must stop and let your breath catch up for best usage of fat and carbs.

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