Thursday, November 7, 2013

Up Cave Canyon / Down by the Muffins - 11/7/13

Looking Back to Entrance of Cave Canyon & Stables Below

Beginning Descent at The Muffins

 Ahh, Thursday! What a wonderful day for a hike! Twenty-three hikers thought so, too. The air was fresh and at just the right temperature. The sky started out almost clear then turned cloudy just when the sun started to heat up a little too much. And, there were several hikers who had not explored Cave Canyon before ... always a fun addition to the adventure.

Blondie Saddled Up and Waiting
 We parked at the Red Rock Canyon NCA cowboy trails entrance and began our hike by heading up to the upper cowboy staging area. There were a few horses waiting there for an adventure of their own.

Climbing Up to the Large Cave
 As soon as we passed the Echo Canyon junction and climbed into Cave Canyon, we took a look up to our left and mentioned the large cave in the wall of the canyon. Several hikers took about 10 or 15 minutes and climbed up to quickly explore the opening.

Twenty-Three Hikers Up the Obstacle Without Help!

 As everyone began returning to the floor of the canyon, we turned to start the 2 mile hike/scramble. The first obstacle would be the most difficult. But, this being a stellar group of hikers, no one needed help with the scramble up the dry fall. In fact, no one needed help nor lagged behind all the way up between the walls. There was decidedly less graffiti than a few months ago. The overgrown brush had died back. And, the trail in the wash was more welcoming.

Zigzagging Our Way Through the Canyon Brush
 Cave Canyon has its own charm. It is different from the other two choices of the North Blue Diamond Hills. It offers a little more scrambling and is the longest canyon of the three.

Arriving at the Canyon Junction

 When we reached the fork in the canyon, we chose the left fork. The right fork peters out fairly quickly. The left fork offers another half mile of scrambling and a wonderful boxed in dry fall at the end. Most of our participants chose the most challenging way to ascend the dry fall! A little more canyon, then we T-boned into a trail on which we turned to the left.

View at Top of Large Dry Fall
 The trail we were now on is one trail that delivers hikers from the south end of the hills to the north end ... and vice versa!

On the Trail Again
 We switchbacked at the Boneshaker Hill trail junction and began climbing up past the relay station to the ridge that overlooks the city of Las Vegas. This overlook is considered the "new" overlook.

Break Point at New Las Vegas Overlook

 We enjoyed our long break here at the overlook. The sky had begun clouding up just as we were beginning to feel a little too warm. After a nice rest, we started out on the trail that followed along the North Blue Diamond Hills ridge. The cliff to our right dropped around 200 feet. We had a nice view of the Red Rock campground. It is rumored that it is a very nice and well equipped desert campground.

Old Las Vegas Overlook
 The ridge trail finished at the "old" Las Vegas overlook. We took a short water break here then moved on.

Connecting with Muffin Trail

 The trail drops down from the overlook then climbs up again. A small trail bears off to the right at the top of the rise. It is our usual route to just climb up to the top of the ridge and follow it down to the Muffins. Today, we chose to take the small trail that travels around the Muffin ridge and junctions with the Muffin trail at the point in the photo below. We all agreed it was fun to find a new route.

Ridge Trail Approaching the Muffins
 We turned left onto the Muffin Trail and followed the ridge down to the huge set of conglomerate boulders sitting atop the end of the hill.

Short Stop at the Muffins
 Another small break was taken here. The distance was starting to take its toll and feet sometimes need a break!

Las Vegas from the Muffins

 The last leg of the hike had arrived. DOWN! We found the trail beside one of the muffin rocks and began a talkative descent along the side of the hill. This is the only time during the entire 7.5 miles that we began separating. It mattered not as we all knew our way home passing the Skull Canyon Trail, the Boneshaker Hill Trail and the horse corral. Our 7.5 mile hike lasted less than 4 hours with 1600 feet of elevation gain.

Starting Descent from the Muffins

Approaching the "Floor"

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