Sunday, October 21, 2012

Up Muffins & Down Skull Canyon - 10/21/12

                                View from The Muffins to the Calico Hills

                          View from Skull Canyon to the White Rock Hills

 Ten Sunday hikers showed up for a three hour, 5.4 mile circuit with a gross elevation gain of around 1200 feet from the Cowboy Trails parking lot off of Highway 159. Today's adventure would include a climb up to the conglomerate boulder arrangement, affectionately called The Muffins, situated on the north end of the North Blue Diamond Hills. From there, a hike over to the Old Las Vegas Overlook for a snack break and then the return to the cars via Skull Canyon would complete the hike.

                                           Sunrise on the Calico Hills

 We hiked from the horse corral over to the Muffins / Skull Canyon / Boneshaker Trails quickly. The weather was great but the sun would heat things up as it came over the ridge so we hurried to do as much of the climb in the shade as possible. About half way up the hill, we slowed down but we managed to stay in the shade for most of the ascent. We took a small break when we reached The Muffins. The views of the Calico Hills, the La Madre Mountain Range and Las Vegas were colorful and bright.

                                         City View from The Muffins

                                      Nine Hikers Plus the Photographer

 From The Muffins, we continued up toward the top of the plateau. The trail becomes faint in this area but as long as the hiker is gaining elevation and staying to the left side of the hill, it would be difficult to get lost. After the high point, we descended down to a clear trail that took us over to the city overlook. Along the way, we began noticing flowers that had bloomed here at the end of October. They must be confused with all the recent rains and warm sunshine!

                                View from the Old Las Vegas Overlook

 After our break at the overlook, we retraced our steps to the previous junction and continued down to the source of Skull Canyon, named by Cactus Jack for a burro skeleton found here about ten years ago. The trail in the canyon is very clear but, part of the way, we scrambled down the middle to avoid the constant presence of slippery downhills. At the next point that the trail crossed the wash, we stepped back onto the trail and finished the descent passing the Muffins Trail junction. We returned to the cars the same way we had made our approach to the area.

                                      Junctioning with the Muffins Trail

                                          Heading Back to the Stables

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