Saturday, May 23, 2015

Four Burros Loop (aka Lawn Mower Loop) - 5/23/15

Morning Light on Escarpment from Rubber Ducky Trail

Three Burros Plus One Behind Joshua Tree on Left

Present State of Rubber Ducky Yucca

 When stormy weather comes into southern Nevada, the club has to be flexible and creative. The originally scheduled hike in the mountains was transferred to the desert below and eighteen hikers started at the Late Night Trailhead on Highway 160. Looking for a new route on the many bike trails of Cottonwood Valley, we started out the Late Night Trail to the east of the parking lot. After about a third of a mile, we crossed the Black Velvet Road and started on the Mustang Trail.

Give Steve a Rock to Climb On
 Soon, we turned right onto the Rubber Ducky Trail. Last time we saw the Rubber Ducky Yucca (Joshua Tree), the BLM people had removed the many rubber ducks adorning its branches. Today, several rubber ducks had returned to hang in the desert.

Good Pace

 We followed the Rubber Ducky Trail all the way around the hill to the right and hiked up and over the corner. This dropped us down onto the other end of the Mustang Trail that would soon junction with the Landmine Loop to the right. Before we reached the Landmine Loop, we turned to the right again and began a gentle ascent up to the top of the hill we were hugging throughout the hike.

Break in Limestone Wash
 At the top of Ascent #1, we turned left onto the Wounded Knee Trail; a trail that crosses the length of the hill. Just before we began a long descent, we were gifted a gorgeous overlook toward the east.

Break Entertainment
 Halfway down the switchbacking trail, we stopped at the limestone wash for our break. The wash is part of the trail and, while we were resting, along came four bikers from below. They showed us their prowess on the tough limestone trail and we applauded.

Bottom of Wounded Knee Trail

 As we were finishing the descent off of the hill, we spotted four burros nearby. They seemed to be young and lean and very energetic. Curious about us, they stopped their foraging to watch us then they ran on down the hill kicking up dust a few times. Besides them, we saw bunches of jackrabbits and cottontails. Wildlife was out and about!

Next, we dead ended at a cross trail and turned right. This brought us to the Old Spanish Trail. Turning right, we circled around the rocky point of the hill.

Hiking Around the Point on the Old Spanish Trail
 Leaving the well worn trail, we hiked up the wash on vague trails of old. Staying next to the hill, we finally found the trail junction we were looking for; marked by an old lawn mower as seen in one of the photos above.

Top of Ascent #2

 This trail zigzagged up the hill for Ascent #2. At the top, we junctioned again with the Wounded Knee Trail and turned left. A highish peak rose up to the left of the trail as we circled around a wash and dropped down to junction with the Rubber Ducky Trail from earlier. A left turn; a zigzag jog up to the right; a return on the Mustang and Late Night Trails - all took us back to the cars. Excellent workout at the quick pace we exhibited today.

6.5 miles; 800 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Black Pool of Cloud Shadow

Returning on the Rubber Ducky Trail

Mustang Trail with Stormy Weather Coming In

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