Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wild Horse Ridge - 6/28/14

Wild Horse Ridge with Angel Peak in the Distance

North Loop / Crossover Trail Junction Tree

Hiking up Beside Deer Creek Hwy
 By the time the hike was finished this morning, the count was around twenty hikers! We had late comers, early comers and joiner-innners! Yep! We had a great time! Anyway, today's hike of Wild Horse Ridge deviated from the regular same old route. We parked at the Deer Creek Picnic Area parking lot (spelled r-e-s-t-r-o-o-m-s) and began our hike by trekking up highway 158 toward the North Loop trailhead.

Twenty Hikers on the North Loop Trail

At the trailhead, we were instructed to continue up the North Loop Trail at our own pace until we reached the North Loop Meadow.

Hiking up the North Loop Trail

Switchbacks just before Meadow
 This enabled all of us to get a good workout no matter what level of condition we were in. The 1.5 miles with 1000 feet of elevation gain provides plenty of opportunity to blow out the arteries. We arrived at the meadow in small groups. This was our snacking destination so we found shade to sit in and proceeded to dig through our packs while we waited for the last hikers to join us.

Approaching the North Loop Meadow

The North Loop Meadow is a large open space on top of an intermediate ridge surrounded by old bristlecone trees that have been twisted by the wind. In the distance, you can see Las Vegas on one side and the Nevada Test Site on the other.

Scenes from the Meadow

North Loop Meadow "Furniture"
 As we waited and snacked, it was a good chance to get to know some of the newbies of the group. The Saturday morning 8:30 hikes are custom made for new hikers of all levels. During these hikes, newcomers learn what level of condition they are in and what kind of tolerance they have for the increased altitude. From these easier hikes, they can decipher which other hikes during the week that they would be able to do and which other hikes they can work up to doing.

North Loop / Crossover Trail Junction

When everyone was accounted for and we all had a nice break, Chris led us up to the beautiful old tree at the far end of the meadow where the Crossover Trail junction lies.

Crossover Trail near to Ridge Drop

Final Drop to Wild Horse Ridge
 We followed Chris on a small wooded trail. The distinct trail turns into a sudden steep descent that leads into Wild Horse Canyon. We did not take the turn but continued on the Crossover Trail until we were at the top of the neighboring ridge. At the point where we could not go any further without making a very steep drop ahead of us, the small trail makes a turn to the right and leads down to the beginning of Wild Horse Ridge.

Climbing onto Wild Horse Ridge

A small trail that you see appearing out of the forest at the beginning of the rock ridge is called Cactus Jack's Trail. Someday, we will have to explore the small connecting trail to see what it connects!

Wild Horse Ridge Orientation

Hiking Wild Horse Ridge
 We mounted the rock ridge and immediately took in the various and vast views. Chris was great, as usual, at leading an interpretive hike for those who had no idea where they were as yet. We hiked down the long rock ridge made of a conglomerate stone. Mummy Mountain was behind us and Angel Peak was in front. To our left, we could see the first half of the Cougar Ridge Trail road which services the cabins and summer homes in this area. Along the ridge, mountain mahogany trees grew abundantly. We dropped down the end of the ridge and turned to our left to continue dropping to the Cougar Ridge Trail road. From here, we turned left, hiked up the road to the pavement on the right. This pavement descends down through the Deer Creek picnic area where there were many people enjoying the trickling stream and picnic tables. Returning to our cars, we were surprised to have hiked 4.6 miles with 1200 feet of elevation gain in 3.5 hours.

Mummy's Toe (to Tummy) from Lower Wild Horse Ridge

Descending Through the Deer Creek Picnic Area

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