Sunday, August 4, 2013

Wallace Canyon Plane Crash Loop - 8/4/13

1978 Wallace Canyon Plane Crash

Mt. Charleston from Large Shelter Above No Name Trail

 A lucky thirteen hikers went out for their Sunday stroll today. It would be an excellent 6 mile hike all over the ridges and canyons of northwestern Lee Canyon and beyond. Elevation gain for the morning was at 1936 feet.

We began at the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead at the end of Lee Canyon Highway in the Spring Mountains NRA. At a mile up the Bristlecone Trail, we turned left onto the No Name Trail and followed it up for around a quarter mile. The trail forked to the left onto the Wallace Canyon Trail and up we went on a steep switchbacking slope.

Saddle Above Wallace Canyon
 The beautiful trail of pine and limestone circled around to the right after gaining elevation and we ended up at a saddle above Wallace Canyon where we had views of Pahrump, Nevada below. We spoke to a few hikers that we knew there then dropped over the saddle on a small trail that circled the canyon around to the left. A short while later, we walked into an airplane crash site.

Mt. Clinton and Pahrump from Wallace Canyon Saddle

 In February of 1978, a man and his 21 year old son rented a small aircraft to fly out to help in a search for one of two downed planes in the area. For unknown reasons, they crashed into the deep snow of Wallace Canyon. The man left his unconscious son to walk out in zero degree weather for help but didn't reach help for two days. By the time a search and rescue team reached his son, he was dead from injuries and exposure. The site of the crash is sobering and we paid our respects quietly.

Different Views of the Wallace Canyon Plane Crash
 After a sad morning break at the crash site, we returned to the saddle the way we came.

Return Between Plane Crash and Saddle

 We could see the back of Lee Peak up to the south. The ski slopes were below us to the east. We turned to the north and began following a small game trail that has been trod by humans a few times. This trail took us on a traverse around a craggy peak above that connects to Pahrump Overlook Peak. To our right and left, the terrain was steep and unforgiving but our landscape surroundings were beautiful in the limestone and pine openess. We clung to our trail for about a third of a mile then dropped down onto the No Name Trail on the last hill before the No Name Saddle. We would have liked to continue the traverse but the terrain got steeper making the going more difficult.

Looking Back at Wallace Canyon Saddle from Traverse Trail
 The last climb to No Name Saddle was challenging but made easier since we were all awake by then! After a cool early morning, the day had warmed up with clear skies.

Traverse Trail Between Saddles

 One of our hikers had opted to return to the No Name Trail via the Wallace Canyon Trail where we left it and climb the No Name Trail as usual. We all arrived at the saddle around the same time. However, if we are able to pack down the traverse trail in the future, this route would be shorter and easier. We gathered at the No Name Saddle then began our hike up to the ridge above the established No Name Trail where the old bristlecone trees reign.

An Old Bristlecone Tree
 Climbing onto the ridge near the old bristlecone tree used for photos occasionally, we followed a light trail among the twisted trees. We passed two of our club members who were down on the No Name Trail pre-hiking a future hike yelling "hi" and "hello."

Ridge Trail Above No Name Trail

 The ridge undulates while it presents views of South Sister. We passed a small shelter built of logs and limbs then climbed a small peak where we came to a much larger shelter built of the same. Here is where we sat to have a nice snack and conversation. From this shelter, we could see Charlie watching over us as seen in the second photo of this entry. After our break, we continued down the ridge ending at the No Name / Bonanza Trails junction where we saw yet another group of hikers of whom we knew one.

Upper Bristlecone Trail
 The two club members that we passed earlier were at the Bonanza / Bristlecone Trails junction when we arrived. We turned right onto the Bristlecone Trail and circled around to the point near where the photo below was taken.

Dropping Down to the Wild Horse Trail Junction

Wild Horse Trail
 At the switchback point, our coordinator, Lettie, suggested that we go straight down onto the ridge where wild horses are often seen. This is a short cut for the Bristlecone Trail. So after following the ridge out, we dropped down a steep slope and ended up on the lower part of the Upper Bristlecone Trail about 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead. Back at the cars, we all agreed that the hike, today, was excellent and it was fun to do a lot of stuff we've always wanted to do but never did.

Beginning Drop to Upper Bristlecone Trail
 A hike well worth repeating!

Almost Back to Cars

Suggestion: Don't park on the Helispot!

1 comment:

Las Vegas Cockapoo said...

The 1978 plane crash debris is being removed.