Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bonanza Peak - 6/27/13

View of Pahrump Valley from Bonanza Saddle

View of Charleston Peak from Bonanza Peak

 According to twenty hikers of the AtBF, Bonanza Peak was the place to be today ... in spite of the heat! With 8.5 miles and 3474 feet of elevation gain, the hike was a challenge ... especially since much of it was hiked in the sun. Nevertheless, eighteen of the twenty hikers made it to the peak, many of whom had not been there before.

We journeyed up to Cold Creek, Nevada and drove out the high clearance dirt road to the Bonanza Trailhead. On the way into Cold Creek, we waited for and passed a huge herd of wild horses. There must have been around fifty in all. (Some were very skinny.) A waning gibbous (the moon) hung over the Window-in-the-Cliff area above the Spring Mountain Divide ridge line. And, after twenty hikers finished their preparations, we began the climb up the initial 57 or so switchbacks (who counts anymore?) to the Bonanza Saddle.

View of Cold Creek Valley from Initial Switchbacks

Hikers Dealing with the 70 Switchbacks

By the time we reached the beginning of the switchbacks, we were well on our way to dividing into around three pace levels. The climb seemed to go faster when we carried on a conversation. It really didn't matter what we were talking about! Someone once said that if you can talk and hike at the same time, then you are going the right pace for you and your heart. 'Nuff said!

At around the 36th switchback, (because I counted it two years ago ...), where you can go off trail a short distance and see a good view of the Window-in-the-Cliff, there was a lone horse munching on the low growth bushes. He (or she) seemed to not notice us walk by and speak at all. The horse just kept munching. As skinny as the horses are right now, we don't blame him. A few more switchbacks and we found the big tree that we were obliged to climb over last year. It has been somewhat cleared now.

Tree Crossing No More

Bonanza Saddle and Pahrump View

We had been instructed by our coordinator du jour, Mike OC, to wait at the saddle where we would regroup to finish the climb to the peak. So when we arrived at the saddle, there were fourteen smiling faces already there. While waiting for the remainder of the hikers, there was plenty of time to take a few photos and eat a snack. The views from the saddle are expansive and the flowers bloomed throughout the meadow.

The last hikers arrived and took a small break then we started up the remaining 12 or so switchbacks to the approach trail turn off. Again, we spread out but Mike OC stood stalwartly at the pile of rocks (loosely called the cairn!) at the turn off to the left. He offered to lead hikers to the peak if they waited, however, it is a peak! Just go up! And, we continued and found a barely there trail marking the way.

View from Bonanza Peak Approach Trail

Bonanza Peak

We arrived at the peak, signed the log, took our photos, ate a snack and had more conversation. From the peak, one can see clearly to Mt. Charleston as seen in the second photo of the entry. Although it was cooler on the peak, the sun was still warming us more than we would have liked. Too soon, we began the descent process. We learned it is best to stay on the ridge coming down so that there is no confusion as to which way to hike when you reach the main Bonanza Trail.

Twelve switchbacks to the saddle again, then 57 to the cars. Four solid miles of down! We didn't stop and the knees and feet payed for it! But, please note the smiling faces in the photo below. Nothing beats a day in the mountains even if it is hot. What a great day!

Down ... Down ... Down

Summer Flowers at the Saddle

Orientation of Spring Mountain Divide from Cold Creek Area

1 comment:

Dan Cesena said...

Great job on pictures and blog
Thanks Kay