Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hamblin Mountain - 2/19/15

Lake Mead from Hamblin Mountain Peak

Cottonwood Spring

 It was a fabulous day as a surprising number of twenty-six hikers participated in a Chris Dempsey climb to the peak of Hamblin Mountain. Was it the weather? Was it Chris? Or, was it the grandiose views seen from the knife edge ridge of blue Lake Mead's three basins and the redstone of the Bowl of Fire? For whatever reason, it was so great to see everyone who was there!

Starting Up Trail from Cottonwood Spring
 We parked at the mile marker 18 turnout on Northshore Road, crossed the road and began our hike on a trail that led down to the Pinto Valley Wash. We made quick progress up to the Cottonwood Spring area and even discovered an unknown old water trough nearby.

Long Line of Twenty-Six Hikers

 We turned right at the cottonwood tree and followed the trail up the next small wash until the trail turned to the left to switchback up. The easy trail kept us ascending until we hit a small saddle. With a slight drop over the other side, we continued on a trail that led us up into a small canyon. The canyon became more and more narrow then obliged us do a little scramble up to the canyon above.

The Canyon Scramble
 The trail continued and began to climb more steeply. A look back revealed the colorful area of Lake Mead NRA that we affectionately call the Bowl of Fire.

A Look Back at the Bowl of Fire from near the Ridge

 A slippery scree-filled trail took us up to the ridge that leads to the peak. We turned to our right and carefully followed it. The views of Pinto Valley, Razorback Ridge, Boulder Wash, and Lake Mead were already taking our attention off of the climb. This writer has been on this peak several times but the views never cease to impress! Eventually, all twenty-six hikers squeezed onto the knife edge peak and signed into the log book.

Razorback Ridge from Hamblin Peak
 There was only a slight breeze today that offset the warmer temperatures. Several of us were wearing shorts on this unusual February day.

Break Time at the Peak

 After our break, we began our descent together. There was a long line of hikers down the ridge and into the small approach canyon. The scree trail required concentration but, once we were down the scramble zone, we settled in to an easy descent down to the beginning of the loop part of the hike. Here, we took a right and crossed over to the next deep wash.

Starting Descent with Pinto Valley in Distance
 This wash headed straight down to the base of colorful Razorback Ridge and part of the old Arrowhead Highway.

Descending the Ridge

 The Arrowhead Highway was used in the 1920's and 1930's as the main (or only) route between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Old timey cars traveled the dirt road that ran through all of this color. There are places on the almost obliterated road that show that rocks were used to support the road in places where there were probably washouts. We hiked down the red wash and connected with the road that now appears more like the wash that it is.

Razorback Ridge from Crossover Trail
 Following the road / wash, we saw many colors around us. Traveling through here in an old open automobile must have been dream-like!

Descending the Wash toward the Old Arrowhead Highway

 The wash brought us down to the Cottonwood Spring where we had more fun scrambling down its dry fall. The old road bed traveled around this spot. After we all got down, we continued hiking out the wash all the way to the exit trail near the road. Absolutely wonderful hike today!

7 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Scramble Fun at Cottonwood Spring

Pinto Valley Wash

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