Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rainbow Loop - 5/14/13

New Growth Aspens in Front of the Echo Cliffs

Mt. Charleston from Rainbow Loop Overlook

 Today's "not so super-sized" Tuesday hike was a very pleasant 6 mile hike with 1400 feet of gain in the forest around the small Mt. Charleston community of Rainbow. This week we are becoming acclimated to the higher elevations of the Spring Mountains NRA and Rainbow Loop was a perfect choice for eleven hikers who parked across from Fletcher Canyon on Kyle Canyon Road and began hiking up toward the old Visitor Center. We hiked through the campground and along the Kyle Canyon drainage and came upon two very healthy mule deer checking out a kid's shelter made with sticks and logs. Quick on their 8 feet, they escaped before a really nice photo could be made so we'll play a game of "Find Waldo" in the photo below.

Find the Two Mule Deer

 We crossed through the lower portion of Rainbow and continued up the drainage until we arrived at a trail making a 90 degree turn uphill. This part of the hike climbed up directly next to the new picnic area construction boundary. Careful not to cross the line for fear of being fined, we peeked over and noticed many new fiberglass park benches placed strategically around on newly carved forest trails. We even crossed a cement path that is presumably part of the new walking trails that the new picnic area boasts. We continued up the hill passing the old shelter to the right.

New Park Benches for New Picnic Area

 In this area, there was an avalanche in 2005. Aspens began growing in the avalanche path and are now showing the growth seen to the left. Soon after the aspens, we junctioned with the South Loop Trail and turned to the left. We now had a clear view of Mummy's Toe across Kyle Canyon. We hiked through four switchbacks, and just before we hit the infamous South Loop "steps," we turned on a forest road to the left. We hiked up this old abandoned road to the top of the hill where we took our snack break at an overlook of Mt. Charleston.

Hiking the South Loop Trail

 From the overlook, we saw Mt. Charleston, Lee Peak and Cathedral Rock. We could also see the ridge line that the North Loop Trail followed. Below us, we saw the small community of Mt. Charleston, Nevada. Over to our left, we could see the Echo Cliffs and the first overlook of the South Loop. In the wash that heads up toward Griffith Peak, there was still a lot of residual snow in pockets where the sun seldom shines at this time of year.

Hiking the Wind-Swept Woodland Trail

 We headed to the right here to begin hiking a small single-track woodland trail that leads down to the top portion of Rainbow. Two years ago, a wind storm ripped through this part of the forest and many trees were thrown across this trail. Now, the trail exists in a state of disarray even after the AtBF club members did their best to clean it up last year. Nevertheless, we hiked down through the woods and ended up at the Mt. Charleston weather station where we stopped to take a look.

Mt. Charleston Weather Station

 From here, it was a simple matter of hiking down the dirt and paved roads of Rainbow and connecting with the drainage trail on which we began. We passed by the new kids' shelter on the drainage trail then approached a swing that we had seen on the way out that morning. First, we wanted a pic of the swing, then we went for a pic of a pretty lady in the swing, ... then Paul couldn't resist any longer! Throwing down his hiking sticks and jumping onto the log swing hanging from the big tree branch above, Paul exclaimed, "I push my grandkids in the swing for hours and I never get to swing in the swing myself! Here's my chance!"

Hiking Through Rainbow


1 comment:

Larry Dunn said...

Sorry I missed this hike! Intended to go, but when I checked my (out-of-date) hike schedule, it said Gass Peak...which is on my "other" list these days. BTW, the so-called Mt. Charleston Weather Station is more properly called the Mesowest "Rainbow Canyon" SNOWTEL station, code name "RACN2," who's data you can view online at http://mesowest.utah.edu/cgi-bin/droman/meso_base.cgi?stn=RACN2.

See you on an upcoming hike! ...Larry