Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lee Peak - 7/24/12

                               Panorama taken during our break from Lee Peak.

                             Scene from Trail Canyon

 Today's Super Tuesday Hike found seven Around the Bend Friends on a 13 mile hike up 3100 feet of elevation to the summit of Lee Peak on the North Range of Mt. Charleston. Lee Peak is not an official peak because it does not rise up far enough from the surrounding range. But, for seven hikers, today, it WAS a peak! We started up Trail Canyon from the new parking lot and tried to ignore the menacing clouds that shrouded the peak of Mt. Charleston as seen to the left.

                                Cave Spring water trough.

 Trail Canyon went by pretty quick. The ground was soft due to a rain there yesterday. Everyone was anxious to get the day started fast in case rain decided to "come again another day" ... like today! When we reached the North Loop Trail junction, we took a break to wait for everyone to catch up then started up the North Loop. The first landmark was Cave Spring. Here, there is a water trough built into a hollowed out log. A pipe carries the spring water to the trough.

 The North Loop switchbacks through a large stand of aspens after the spring. This brings the hiker high above the Kyle Canyon floor. Many cliffs and very steep scree fields can be seen below the trail. There is quite a bit of exposure along the trail as it undulates below the ridge. There are three or four places where the hiker comes to a place where he or she can see Lee Canyon on the other side of the ridge.

 Finally, just before we would round the corner to the left to begin the approach to the final ascent on Mt. Charleston, we stopped then took a hard right. We had reached the Lee Peak turnoff. Not far up through the trees and scree, there was a peak begging for the feel of human hiking boots. So up we went. We were now over 11,000 feet and the air was thin. This final climb was NOT a piece of cake! Nevertheless, Mt. Charleston seemed to be laughing at us from under the clouds so we were not to be out done.

                                Mack's Peak and North and South Sister from Lee Peak

 The peak had beautiful views all around. We took our break in the cold wind and enjoyed a few jokes. We were still slightly concerned about rain so the break was of limited time and we started down. Needless to say, the "down" was a bit painful. Six miles down on a continuous pace with five breaks takes a beating on the ol' bod'. Finally, we found the cars just where we left them seven hours earlier. Quite a hike and never a drop of rain.

                                Hiking down the North Loop Trail

                                Kyle Canyon from the North Loop Trail

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