Friday, September 21, 2012

South Loop 2nd Overlook - 9/21/12

                                          Mt. Charleston

                                          Mummy's Toe

 Today's hike to the second overlook of the South Loop Trail, was a continuation of the Friday Gang's training for a Mt. Charleston hike coming up in a couple of weeks. There were six hikers who arrived at the Cathedral Rock / South Loop Trailhead this morning for a relaxing hike seven miles up and back on the South Loop Trail.

 We hiked up the steps and turned left. Soon, we had to turn left again at the new junction for the South Loop Trail. Below us to the left, we saw a lot of construction activity as it appears that they are building a new road at the old Cathedral Rock Picnic Area. We are hoping that a larger parking lot for the Cathedral Rock and South Loop Trails are in the plans.

                             View from First Set of Switchbacks

                                          First Overlook

 The aspens are bountiful on the South Loop Trail and, at this time, they are anywhere from green to yellow to red and orange. We enjoyed hiking through the colors, up the steps and up the first set of switchbacks. When we arrived at the first overlook, we saw a fire pit with a smoldering log in it. Whoever had left the fire burning did not succeed in putting it out completely. We made sure that the log was covered in rocks since there was no loose dirt nearby to put on it. None of us wanted to use our valuable water to put the smoke out until we were on our way back down.

 From the beginning of the hike, we were separated into a group of four and a group of two. We waited at the overlook for the second group a few minutes then decided to continue on up. Several more long switchbacks took us into the Mt. Charleston Wilderness and up to the second overlook. Here, there was a nice place to sit and take a break.

                             Mt. Charleston From Second Overlook

                             Today's Gang at the Second Overlook

 We took several photos of Kyle Canyon, Mummy's Toe, orange and yellow aspen groves, and Mt. Charleston from the surrounding cliffs. After we settled down with our break, the second group of two hikers arrived. We took a "summit" photo then started back down without waiting much longer. Going down, the group separated into two groups of three hikers.

 On the way down, the second group stopped at the rock on the first set of switchbacks that is covered with seabed fossils as seen to the right. It never ceases to amaze that this area reaching 9000 feet plus above sea level is so abundantly covered in fossils of creatures that once lived so far below the water's surface. We continued back down to the cars at a steady pace enjoying the colors of autumn.

                                South Loop Autumn Colors

                             More South Loop Autumn Colors

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