Friday, February 8, 2013

Lava Butte - 2/8/13

                   Lava Butte and Rainbow Gardens from River Mountain

                                     Beginning of Lava Butte Ascent

 Mike OC took eight hikers to climb Lava Butte today. Lava Butte is a volcanic deposit from an ancient volcano parent.  It is prominent in the landscape as seen in the photo at the top of the entry. Climbing this hunk of hill is a dubious project to take on and today's weather didn't help in the endeavor. Mike O'Connor gives us this narration and two photos while Jerry Thomas adds a few more pics and the GPS track.

Jerry's statistics from the hike are: 5.7 miles, 3 hrs. 42 min., 1548 gross elevation gain.

                                              Ascent With a View

A somewhat optimistic octet gathered in the blowing dust on Northshore Road for an ascent on Lava Butte.  Opening the car doors in the gale force winds proved to be a chore.  Hmmm.  Might this be an ominous precedent of what lay ahead?  Our destination loomed far above us on this blustery morning.  Less than an hour into the hike, two bailed and returned to the trailhead.  A short time later, a less-than optimistic sextet huddled in a howling wind on the steep, rocky slope.  Continue or turn back?  It was a moot point as the incessant wind made conversation all but impossible.  Summit fever and a soup├žon of machismo prevailed.  Onward and upward.  

                             Colorful View with Henderson in Background

 One hundred minutes after departure, we found a lunch spot on the lee side of the summit overlooking Lake Las Vegas.  Great spot for a little chow, and we could actually hear each other speak.  It was nice to get a brief respite from the relentless winds.  But the descent beckoned.  So did the Almighty Hawk.  Time to point 'em down.

The descent proved a tad perilous, as the wind muffled the sound of falling rocks.  One hiker watched a monster boulder go flying past him; another took a nasty tumble.  No damage done.  Finally we reached the base of the steep section and breathed a collective sigh of relief.  After a brief stop at Porno Cave (viewing optional), it was back to the desert floor, followed by the flat, sandy traverse to Mile Marker 2.  It was high noon.

                                               Treacherous Descent

                                       Nearing the Base of Lava Butte

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