Today's hike to the summit of Hamblin Mountain near Lake Mead's Boulder Basin was attended by ten hikers. Mike OC coordinated today and his preparations of good weather and bighorn sheep came through without a hitch. We drove Northshore Road next to Lake Mead to mile marker 18 and parked in the pull out.
The morning chill pushed us to a rapid pace to start the hike up and through Cottonwood Wash, named for the lone cottonwood tree standing at a dry fall and nearby spring. It was here that the route turns off to the right. We found the trail and happily hiked up the first climb to an open plateau where we could see Mt. Potosi in the distance.
View Toward Las Vegas After First Climb
Sometimes You Zig When You Should Have Zagged!
We were all talking so intensely that every one of us didn't notice when the line of hikers missed the wash trail heading to the left. Soon we were climbing a very unfamiliar and steep ridge. When we stopped to figure things out, we noticed a small group of male bighorns on a distant slope. Unknowingly, the writer caught a photo of them also having a bit of a zigzagging problem!
We made our way back over to the left and found the familiar wash trail. (Some of us had taken advantage of a steep exploratory over the nearby ridge.) We were now at the beginning of the final climb up through the last wash. Views of Lake Mead began appearing and, after about three more short steep climbs, we found ourselves on the saddle that leads to the peak.
Nearing the Summit
On the peak, we each found a nice soft rock and enjoyed the views, of which there are many, while we ate a snack and talked about our surroundings. We had a few hikers that were new to this trail and one hiker who was visiting from Seattle. There was much to talk about!
Mt. Charleston from Near the Summit
We wrote in the log book and took panoramic photos. The lake was not far below us; Mt. Hamblin West was sticking up nearby; Mt. Charleston and the Las Vegas Strip could be seen far away on this crystal clear day; and closer by, we could see the red rock of the Bowls of Fire.
Northshore Peak and Razorback Ridge
Too soon, we made our way back across the precarious peak section and started hiking back down to that last wash. The morning chill had worn away and there was only a slight breeze. The conversation continued as we dropped down a couple of dry falls and found the trail that turns off to the right over the ridge.
This small trail drops the hiker down into the next large wash colored with red mud-like dirt. Ahead of us, we could see the side of Razorback Ridge. Our wash T-bones onto the old Arrowhead Highway at the base of that ridge. Arrowhead Highway was the only road for a period of time that took the adventurous car or buggy traveler from Los Angeles or Las Vegas to Salt Lake City. Can you just imagine?
Descending the Wash to Razorback Ridge
Hiking the Old Arrowhead Highway
We turned left on the "road" and followed the wash past the western terminus of Razorback Ridge. At the yellow mountain seen in the photo to the left, there is a fork in the wash that follows the northern base of the ridge for a few miles. We continued down the wash encountering a twenty foot dry fall at that cottonwood tree mentioned before.
This is where the trail route finishes the intermediary loop and we begin hiking out Cottonwood Wash to the highway and our cars. The hike today, including our little accidental excursion was seven miles with around 1500 gross gain of elevation feet. A good workout, to be sure.
Finishing the Hike at the Highway
We found the head and part of the spine of a bighorn sheep who had recently been someone's dinner. His teeth were exceedingly interesting. There was still some hide adhering to the bone. The Circle of Life, etc.