Saturday, January 12, 2013

Black Mountain Peak - Boulder City - 1/12/13

                             Black Mountain Peak in Boulder City, Nevada

                                 Las Vegas Skyline from Descent Wash

It was the coldest morning we've had this season in the Las Vegas area. The temperature began in the upper twenty's and ended just shy of forty. The wind was very cold but, luckily, it wasn't severe and we avoided it during a lot of the hike. We were all wearing everything we brought! So, bundled up like snowmen ... and women ... eight of us began our hike at the River Mountains trailhead parking on Highway 93 in Boulder City and started up the familiar recreational trail to Red and Black Mountains.

 We switchbacked quickly up to the saddle between Red and Black Mountains trying to warm up. By the time we made it to the overlook, we were warm. But it wasn't long before we cooled off again when we stopped for a short break and photos. To one side of the overlook, we had a clear view of Las Vegas and, on another side, we had an expansive view of Lake Mead including a partial view of the new bridge.

                         Las Vegas Skyline from Black Mountain Overlook

                               Lake Mead from Black Mountain Overlook

The real hike was about to begin as we eyed the slight sheep trail that led from the overlook to the higher peaks beyond. We dropped down a little to pick up the trail and began crossing over a skinny ridge that dipped down and back up. We passed an intermediary hump in the ridge then began a steep climb up to a lower twin peak of Black Mountain. Here, we had to traverse beneath craggy rocks filled with windows, arches and caves above a steep loose slope.

 We were going at an easy pace to assure everyone's safety on the slippery slopes. We passed the twin peak and reached the highest point of Black Mountain. Here, we took our break, signed into the log book and took a few photos. The peak was a very small area with single file hiking offered along the highest points. Lake Mead was a beautiful blue below us and the skyline of Las Vegas could be seen to the left of River Mountain which was located two peaks down the River Mountain chain.

                                Taking a Break on Black Mountain Peak

                                Taking a Break on Black Mountain Peak

 Again, we had an abbreviated break due to the cold temperatures. We inspected a nearby geocache and proceeded to find our way down a slippery slope to a wash below. On our way down, we ducked in and out of an arch in the path. The drop became easier as we neared the wash at the bottom then we spent the next half mile carefully picking our way down to the caldera below. About half way down, we passed a battered tent tucked between the walls. There were some provisions inside its perimeter and we assume that it is someone's residence.

 At the bottom of the wash, we crossed over to one of the many bike trails in the area. This trail took us to the wash that goes up to the saddle. At the saddle, we began our hike back to the cars on the trail that we came up. The air temperature had risen about ten degrees and we were much more comfortable than when we started out. The hike was 6.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 1881 feet. Time now to go home and warm up!

                                      Battered Tent in Descent Wash

                                                      Hiking Out

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