Monday, May 19, 2014

Boneshaker Hill / Middle Rim Trail / Mystery Woman Canyon / Skull Canyon - 5/19/14

Cairn at High Point Overlook on the North Blue Diamond Hills

Trail Up Boneshaker Hill

Morning Climb up Boneshaker Hill
 For an early morning Red Rock Canyon NCA hike that tries its best to be less structured than the other scheduled hikes, nine hikers came out and decided to follow Kay up Boneshaker Hill and connect with a new trail that we named Middle Rim Trail. Later, we followed Roger down the Mystery Woman Canyon and connected with Skull Canyon. The entire hike rang in at around 6.5 miles which is a little more than what Doug, the early morning coordinator, normally attempts to keep his hikes. Nevertheless, we had a good group of hikers today and we just went for it on this cool late spring morning in the desert.

The Jack Rabbit Group Waiting on Us
 Starting from the Cowboy Trails parking area, we hiked out to the base of Boneshaker Hill and began our steep climb. On the way up the hill, most of us would stop and rest to catch our breath from time to time. However, there was a "jack rabbit" group of three or four hikers that persevered up the hill with very few breaks.

Many Utah Agave are in Bloom

Hiking on the Middle Rim Trail
 When we finally reached the flatter part of the hill, we noticed that there was a huge number of Utah Agaves in bloom. Yellow stalks everywhere! Nearing the old faded Boneshaker sign, we turned off to our left to find a small trail that was new to us. With an inkling of where it led, we took the beautiful trail, dotted with plump red barrel cacti, along the rim of the Mystery Woman Canyon below. At the top end of the canyon, the trail switchbacked up the hill ending above the "New Las Vegas Overlook."

Fat Red Barrel Cacti on the Middle Rim Trail
 As we sat for a break at the tall cairn, we looked out over a smoke filled valley while barely making out the buildings of the Las Vegas Strip and Lake Mead beyond. The smoke had crept in while we were climbing.

Cairn at High Point Overlook on a Smoky Day

The Top of Mystery Woman Canyon
 After a little discussion on how we would return, Roger agreed to lead us down Mystery Woman Canyon which was probably the shortest route available from this point. Instead of taking the bicycle switchbacks on our way down, we opted to bushwhack straight down the slope to the top of the canyon below us. We didn't really find a very good trail in the canyon until we had descended down to where another cross trail junctions. At this point, the trail was decipherable even though the easy scrambling continued.

Scrambling Down Mystery Woman Canyon
 There were three mishaps involving cacti and skin. Not a great combination! After carefully extracting hooked thorns, we continued down to junction with Skull Canyon.

Hiking Down Skull Canyon

Nearing the Mouth of Skull Canyon
 The trail in Skull Canyon is very clear. We continued down the familiar route as the temperatures began to rise. At the bottom of the canyon trail, we junctioned with the Muffins Trail and switchbacked down to the Boneshaker Hill Trail turnoff that we had used three hours earlier. Our cool down was the flat hike back to the cars passing the horses in the corral. Today's hike was fun using a different route and doing a little easy exploring.

6.5 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Junction with the Muffins Trail

The Water Trough Queue

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