Sunday, April 6, 2014

Landmine Loop (Variation) - 4/6/14

Cactus on West End of Landmine Loop

New Spanish Trail Marker

 The Around the Bend Friends have not hiked the Landmine Loop since March of 2008. Primarily a bike route, the loop travels around the hills behind the Blue Diamond, Nevada community. The terrain through which it navigates is beautiful desert with yuccas, joshua trees and creosote framed by a large view of the whole Red Rock Canyon NCA escarpment. Today, we stepped aside for many bikers out for their Sunday ride on the Landmine Loop.

We began at the trailhead located in the back of the Blue Diamond neighborhood. (Note: Please keep your vehicle speed to a minimum as you travel through the residential community. We, as hikers, don't want any "bad press.")

Blue Diamond Hills Inside the Landmine Loop
 As we got to the top of the first and long hill, we noticed that the local Spanish Trail organization has replaced the Spanish Trail marker. It is very nice and no long reads "ish Trail."

Hiking Past Limestone Covered Wash

 We circled around behind the first hill and headed up between the Blue Diamond hills and hills closer to Highway 160. We immediately began feeling like we were in the middle of the desert. To our left, we approached a limestone covered wash that mainly emanates from the Black Velvet Canyon of the escarpment. From here, we began hiking in a northward direction staying close to the BD hills. There are a few trail junctions in this area so it is good to study a map before hiking this area.

Working on Mile 3
 Eleven hikers came today for a steady but unrushed pace on the 8 mile loop.

Limestone Wash & Trail

After making the curve to the left and crossing another limestone wash, we crossed two gulleys then found our right turn trail junction at 3 miles into the hike. Although this new trail is not part of the official Landmine Loop, it takes the hiker up into a more interesting terrain while still paralleling the bike trail below. This section of the hike is decorated by large limestone boulders while offering the best views of the escarpment across Cottonwood Valley.

Escarpment Peaks
 We junctioned with a trail perpendicular to us and jogged to the left and right to continue on our route.

Break in the Shade of Large Limestone Boulder

 As Bonnie Springs and the old Oliver Ranch came into view ahead, we found our snack break rock at mile marker 4.75 that provided shade and wind break on the right side of the trail. Today's weather was near perfect but, occasionally, the wind would gust just a little. After our break, we continued along the trail up and over the ridge point. Then the trail dropped back down to the official Landmine Loop. We were now back to sharing our trail with the Sunday bikers. To our left was the Oliver Ranch and bird sanctuary fence.

Herd of 6 Burros
 When we veered away from the fence, we saw the old car that was dumped there to rust many years ago. We kept hearing snorts on the hill beyond and, finally, we spotted the well-camouflaged burros.

Antique Car with Suicide Doors (1940 or 41 DeSoto)

 A short detour was taken down the hill to peer at the old car and to get better photos of the burros. Back on the trail, we hiked among the ranch's old dump area at the base of the north side of the BD hills. Finally, we arrived on the straightaway heading into the Blue Diamond community. The final stretch had several wash dips to contend with and, next, we found ourselves hiking the pavement of the quiet neighborhood. Beautiful morning!

8 miles; 1100 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

The Last Trail Dip
 Thanks to Susan and Doug for helping the coordinator with the pre-hike. Everything went swimmingly!

Finishing with a Stroll Through Blue Diamond

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