Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mountain Spring Peak Loop - 11/10/11

Climbing, once again, up past the radio relay tower above Mountain Spring, Nevada, sixteen hikers set out for a loop hike that passes over Mountain Spring Peak. This peak is a high point within the limestone portion of the Red Rock Canyon NCA escarpment. It lies between the escarpment and the small community below with the same name.

We reached the trail junction ridge breathing hard. That first mile is quite a climb. After this, we hiked along the most beautiful section of the morning on the edge of the escarpment. Below us was the panoramic view in the second photo of Black Velvet Peak and the Las Vegas Strip beyond. Mountain Spring Peak arrived suddenly and we all wrote in the log book which is kept inside a metal box nearby. Writing in the log book is perhaps a small reward for climbing this far on any peak but the best rewards are in the expansive views attained.

After a small break on the peak, we continued in the same direction along the escarpment passing residual patches of snow here and there. There were several tracks in the snow which we presumed to be those of a mountain lion. The track was circular with a diameter of around 3 inches and there were no claw marks at the end of the toes. At any rate, this large animal walked along the trail for much of the way.

At a dip in the elevation, there lies a cliff side, limestone projection large enough to seat at least ten people. Here is where we sat to eat our snacks with our feet dangling over the edge. The views had changed from Black Velvet Peak to Monument Peak but the Strip was still there in the distance.

To the left side of this out- cropping, there is a small limestone window and Jim B. was quick to note that we could see the Stratosphere Tower through the hole. At his suggestion, the first photo of this entry was born!

Leaving the cliff, we soon turned to our left and began our descent on a long gradual ridge. The ridge eventually gave way to a wash and the line of hikers that had "centipeded" down from the edge of the escarpment, junctioned with a dirt road that leads through the Rainbow Wilderness and, eventually, to Lovell Canyon Road. We turned to the left; the direction of Mountain Spring and our cars.

We followed along the dirt road for over a mile. The powers that be had erected a blockade on the road as we neared the town. (Tracks were seen ... yep ... going around the blockade.) Turning left on a small side trail, we quickly explored a small cave with a hole in the back. After this little excursion, we returned to the road and passed the spring area above the town.

Skirting the town, we passed agave roasting pits made by the native Americans who lived here long ago. One of the pits is quite pristine as seen in the photo to the right. Our trail led us behind a farm with chickens and horses and three ferocious dogs. (Okay, two wiener dogs and a large mutt.) Anyway, 4.5 hours after we began this 7 mile hike, we arrived back at the cars.

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