Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Turtlehead Peak - 7/9/13

The Sun Peeking Out Around Turtlehead Peak

The Escarpment from the Saddle Below Turtlehead Peak

 Eight hikers decided that 5:45am was not too early to arrive at the meeting place and be at Red Rock Canyon when the gates opened at 6am. We drove up the scenic loop to Sandstone Quarry feeling a little strange being in the park in July, a very hot time of year for the desert venue. Nevertheless, at that hour, the temperatures were fine and we started up the Turtlehead Trail feeling great that we were back on the trail after flailing around for a few days because the Carpenter One Fire is making ashes of our mountain backyard.

Hiking Up Turtlehead Trail

Morning Colors of the Escarpment

 The climb up Turtlehead is not as steep and slippery as this writer remembers from a few years back. Her boycott of this trail has officially ended! The direction of the trail(s) is clear and worn. There are small switchbacks that help reduce the steepness. And, there are even signs pointing the way! It is still quite a workout but in a safer sort of way. It is also interesting to note that at this early hour, the climb is entirely in the shade up to the saddle. (Half of the descent was also in shade.)

About half way up to the saddle, we spotted a small group of bighorns. There were at least two kids and a couple of adult females at the base of the Turtlehead Peak cliff area.

Bighorns at Base of Turtlehead Cliff

Taking a Break on the Saddle

 After a small break at the saddle, we turned to finish the climb to the peak. On our way up, we saw the smoke from the huge fire in our Spring Mountains covering the Las Vegas valley (alluvial fan). At the peak, we saw Griffith Peak on fire. Sobering.

Always trying to look on the bright side, we decided to take a photo of ourselves appearing to shiver. Yep. It was coolish up there with a light breeze.

The patriarch of Red Rock Canyon NCA, Turtlehead Peak, is a 4.5 mile hike with almost 2000 feet of vertical gain.

View from Turtlehead Peak

It was coolish on the peak!

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