Monday, August 18, 2014

Boneshaker / Middle Rim / Skull Canyon - 8/18/14

Red Rock Canyon NCA Sunrise

Burning Red Rock

Sunrise at the Cowboy Corral
 The early morning Red Rock hike still starts at 6am, therefore, seven early risers witnessed the Red Rock sunrise as the rest of the world slept a little longer then headed off to work. Seeing the sunrise display made getting up before light worth the effort. We drove out to the Cowboy Trails parking area at the North Blue Diamond Hills and hiked around to the base of Boneshaker Hill. Hearts and lungs ready or not, we climbed the steep hill enjoying the views behind us of the sun rising on the Calico Hills. Although the air was a bit hazy, the beauty could not be denied.

Climbing Boneshaker Hill

Jackie Climbs Boneshaker Trail
 When we reached the Middle Rim Trail junction, (located just below the Boneshaker sign at a joshua tree stump), the sun had come over the ridge and was bright in our eyes. We followed the Middle Rim Trail above Mystery Woman Canyon then took the flattish switchbacks up to the tall cairn above the New Las Vegas Overlook. A short break at our high point gave us a chance to enjoy the remaining sunrise light.

Las Vegas Morning Rush Hour
 Haze covered the city below us. Moisture or pollution? Both, probably. There was also a slight breeze keeping us cool.

From the Cliffs Northward
 Our break ended quickly and we decided that the silly flat switchbacks were unnecessary as we dropped down to find a particular fork in the trail.

Steve and the Cairn at the Top

Middle Trail to Left, Unnamed Canyon to Right
 The Red Rock boundary sign faked us out but, on the same contour, we spied the wooden stick at the fork. Onward! We had not used the upcoming section of trail before and, apparently, very few have. It is an old trail that has all but disappeared. Nevertheless, we were able to follow it down to the Muffins / Skull Canyon trail junction. It was a pretty trail that led us along an unnamed canyon between the Muffins ridge and the cliff edge rim of the North Blue Diamond Hills. We'll just call this little old trail the Middle Trail.

Starting Down Skull Canyon

Hiking Down the Skull Canyon Wash
 At the junction, we dropped down to the top of Skull Canyon and began our descent. It was a pleasant uneventful descent toward the Red Rock Canyon escarpment. For variety, we used the wash instead of the trail where we could. The Skull Canyon trail passes the Mystery Woman Canyon and the Muffins junctions, then continues down to the Boneshaker Hill Trail junction where we had started our ascent. From there, we returned to our cars passing the horse corral.

6.5 miles; 1350 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Skull Canyon with White Rock Hills Beyond

Returning to the Horse Corral

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