Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lone Mountain / Up East, Down South - 2/29/12

                                     Eastern Route up Lone Mountain

 Nine tough hikers celebrated the leap year with just a little morning exercise. Sitting within the city's perimeter on the northwest corner is a rather large rock. It is a popular place for many Las Vegans to go for daily exercise and, today, it was on the docket for the Around the Bend Friends.

 Starting from the Lone Mountain Park parking lot at Jensen and Craig, we started up the eastern ridge gaining almost 800 elevation feet in only three tenths of a mile. It was a very steep climb that each of us conquered at different speeds. By the way, did anyone lose a dime on this slope? Just asking.

                                Diane's view from above on the ascent.

                                Las Vegas Strip from Lone Mtn. Peak

                                         Metro doing a "top" job.

Arriving at the peak, we found an officer of the law. We spoke and joked with him for several minutes and found out that he was perusing the surrounding landscape looking for kids who had escaped a youth camp in nearby mountains. They were probably headed this way about then and the officer was looking to head them off at the pass.

 Next, the nine hikers began their descent on the southern ridge route. The ridge extends out from the peak about four tenths of a mile, therefore, this route is not quite as steep. In fact, much of the trail descends very gradually with spurts of plummeting down sharp craggy limestone now and then.

 One troubling issue about this mountain is that it has graffitti on its surface pretty much at every turn. Assumably, the reasons for this is contained in nearby residential neighborhoods.

At least, three hikers left after the Lone Mountain climb. The six hikers that remained got into their cars for a trip across CC215 to tackle nearby Eagle Peak.

                                Diane's view from below on the descent.

                                Southern Ridge Route down Lone Mountain

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hamblin Mountain - 2/28/12

                           Lake Mead from Hamblin Mountain Saddle

                           Western View from Hamblin Mountain Approach

  Under a partially cloudy sky, eleven hikers gathered to climb the one and only Hamblin Mountain today. We began at the 18th mile marker of Northshore Road in the Lake Mead NRA. A cold breeze wiped our brow throughout the hike when we were exposed to the western landscape. When not exposed, we felt the sweat drip dryly across our face. ... Okay, we get the picture!

                      North Bowl of Fire from Hamblin Mountain Approach

 We hiked out the Pinto Valley Wash and took the right fork wash when we neared the dry fall at around a mile. This put us onto the Hamblin Mountain Trail which led gently up to the ridge that bounds Lake Mead, formerly known as Boulder Canyon. Entering a small canyon wash, we climbed up to the ridge and got our first view of the lake. Behind us, we could see the North Bowl of Fire. To the east, we saw the view in the photo to the left.

                                               From the Summit

 Taking our time to balance across the saddle and ridge, we all arrived at the peak where we signed in to the log book. We found a comfortable place out of the light cold breeze and took our break. The view from Hamblin Mountain is nothing less than spectacular! It offers the lake, mountains, color and Las Vegas in the distance.

                           Eastern View from Hamblin Mountain Summit

 We began our descent at an even pace. When we reached a trail leading to the right, we took it. This was the crossover trail to an adjacent colorful wash. In turn, this wash took us down to the Pinto Valley wash or, at one time known as, the old Arrowhead Highway. It was the road once used by travelers to go from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. This particular section of the road must have "blown away" the adventurers as the colors of red, yellow, green and white lined the path for a few miles.

                                       Dropping to Pinto Valley Wash

 From this point, we followed the road down to the dry fall, connected with our previous route, and continued on out to Northshore Road. It was a very pleasant seven mile outing with around 1300 feet of elevation gain accomplished within about 4 hours.

                                                Pinto Valley Wash

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gray Cap - 2/25/12

               View of Turtlehead Peak from the summit of Gray Cap Peak.

               Turtlehead Peak as we rounded the north end of the Calico Hills.

Count 'em! Twenty- nine members of the Around the Bend Friends hiked Gray Cap Peak today; the first time such a strenuous hike has been attempted on our normally tame Saturday outing. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and all were in excellent spirits as we hiked at a palatable pace through the whole six miles of 2000 feet of elevation gain. The hike began at the Sandstone Quarry parking lot off the scenic loop of the Red Rock Canyon NCA.

                  We gathered at the northern corner of Red Cap Peak.

 We hiked out the Calico Tanks Trail a little ways then turned to the left through a wash, past the turn off for Red Cap Peak, through the small picturesque slot canyon, around the base of Red Cap, past Ash Canyon Overlook, down the wash at the base of Turtlehead Peak and finally junctioned with Gateway Canyon. We stopped a few times on the way so everyone should have felt pretty fresh when we divided into two groups, turned to our left and began the scramble up Upper Gateway Canyon. The first group made fairly quick work of the several dry falls. It was exciting that there were so many hikers, today, that had never before experienced this adventure.

              See that tree at the top of this climb? That was our target.

 At the top of Upper Gateway Canyon, we waited as requested by Chris, the coordinator du jour. Before us, awaited the sandstone "wall" layered with red and yellow sandstone that we would climb when the second group arrived at this point. At the top of the wall, grows a tree to the left of a large pointy rock outcropping. As is customary, on the word "go," we were instructed to begin climbing straight up toward this tree and rock. There is no trail and, no, there is no "best" way! Taking one last look at the small square window behind us, we began our scramble as the second group came up from the last waterfall of the canyon.

                               Beginning the climb up the sandstone wall.

 For several minutes, the sandstone wall was covered from top to bottom with hikers as seen in the photo above. The first people to reach the top, watched from the tree. Finally, when all the members of the first group had crested the wall, we continued over to the sandstone fin that lines the side of a very deep, bone dry, tenaja. We crossed the fin, climbed up to the base of the wall to our right, and circled around the wall. After a small drop down, we waited once again for our group to gather.

                                Approaching the beginning of the last climb.

 The last climb to the peak begins with a bang! The steep loose sandstone offered paths of solidity as we passed the "picnic table," and the screwy tree. Up, up, up the sandstone. At last, we reached the trail etched faintly in the sandstone. This trail led us to the limestone mantel atop the last layer of yellow sandstone. Eventually, twenty- seven of the twenty- nine hikers summitted the peak and the photo below was snapped.

                               AtBF is represented on Gray Cap Peak!

 We all wrote our names in the summit log book and took a well- deserved break. After some discussion, we decided to, once again, divide into two groups. The first group would take a different route down to the top of Upper Gateway and the second group would return as they came; down the sandstone wall.  The first group descended the last portion of the climb at a fair but steady pace.

                                Tiny bush and Turtlehead Peak.

 At the bottom, we separated from the route we had taken up and began an excitingly steep descent to a saddle and on down through a scary loose rock wash. The going was slow but we still reached the top of Upper Gateway several minutes before the second group arrived at the top of the sandstone wall. Upon seeing the second group, most of the first group (we'll call them jack rabbits!) decided to go ahead and begin their descent through Upper Gateway Canyon.

              View from saddle above Upper Gateway Canyon to the south.

 The jack rabbits enjoyed the challenges of Gateway and arrived at the junction point where we waited, as instructed, for the second group. We were in contact with each other by radio and were given the okay to continue up through the wash to Red Cap and on to Sandstone Quarry. We kept the pace steady but needed only two rests. This got us back to the cars after being out on the trail for 5 hours. Yep. A long day but very enjoyable. The second group would likely be knocking on the six hour mark.

          Returning to Red Rock Canyon NCA from the La Madre Wilderness.

                                Peering through the calico rock.

                          Back to Sandstone Quarry and hordes of visitors.