Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Escarpment via Old Town - 9/23/15

Charleston Peak from Top of Escarpment

Escarpment from Below

Cathedral Rock

Getting Started at the Old Town School
 Today's hike was a point to point combination of two hiking routes. We drove up Kyle Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains NRA, dropped off a car at the Spring Mountains Gateway Visitor Center and found the elementary school within the limits of Old Town. The people there were very nice to allow us to park next to the parking lot at the school where our nineteen hikers began their hike. We crossed the bridge behind the school and followed a trail that led through the woods.

Trail through the Woods
 The trail passed the Rainbow Loop trail junction then started following the Kyle Canyon wash which is parallel to Kyle Canyon Road.

Hiking Along Wash
 The pace was moderate today and the houses up on the hill to our right in the Rainbow subdivision passed by quickly.

Fletcher View Campground

No Speeding, Marg!
 After Rainbow and more of the wash trail, we began hiking through the first of two campgrounds. Here, we stopped for a restroom break for about 5 minutes. The campground was around half full. Next, we passed through the rangers' residence area. Although the old visitor center is still on its foundation, the two dorm cabins were up on flatbeds at the road ready to be towed away. Some construction equipment was busy smoothing the area where they had stood for many years.

Monarch Butterfly on Rabbitbrush
 This beautiful Monarch Butterfly caught the photog's attention in this same area.

New Bridge Already Damaged
 The next bridge we crossed is only one or two years old and already it is damaged underneath.

Common Mullein Plant

Kyle Wash Trail
 We passed through the second campground and connected with the Kyle Wash Trail. This is a nice wide trail that has interpretive signs and benches along the route. It, too, parallels the wash but a little further away. The second half of this trail goes into the area where there used to be a golf course. The old cart paths, over-grown tee boxes and log steps are still in evidence but, for the most part, the rabbitbrush has taken over.

Entering Old Golf Course Area
 The group of nineteen spread out but gathered again each time there was a stop for a water break.

Old Golf Cart Path
 The weather was slightly warm with a very nice cool breeze on this first day of autumn.

Regrouping before Climb up Escarpment

Starting Climb on Old Golf Cart Path
 Upon reaching the previous golf course pond site, we started our climb up the hill. A turn to the right put us on a very steep old cart path whose slope we estimated at a 35 degree angle. At the first chance to turn right again, we turned onto a dirt trail that began climbing up the west end of the conglomerate escarpment that rises along the mountain across the wash from the new visitor center location. This cemented limestone and other sedimentary rock had several shallow caves lining the bottom of the rock wall.

Mt. Charleston Hotel in Kyle Canyon
 Views of Charleston Peak and the South Loop ridge appeared as we climbed.

35 Degree Slope
 Since most of this hike is downhill, this was the major ascent of the day.

Charleston Peak

Nearing the Top of the Escarpment
 When we finally reached the top of the escarpment (after 400' vertical), the trail levels out then starts on a slow descent. As the trail descends, the long escarpment keeps coming and the views up and down canyon keep out-doing themselves. The mountains have been having cooler night as of late so much of the foliage has started changing colors. The hillside was dotted with everything from bright green to yellow to orange. Then, of course, the aspens on the slopes in the distance provided streaks of yellow, too.

Trail Levels Off
 Someone has placed a small white flag of sorts on the cliff edge. Not sure what that's about.

Break Time at Edge
 Our coordinator chose an open area on the escarpment cliff edge for our break. Fantastic!

Edge of Escarpment

Starting Descent on East Side of Escarpment
 After the break, we continued down the east end of the escarpment following the well-groomed trail. We circled around to follow the bottom of the escarpment now. We had close up views of the caves along the bottom and we wondered what caused the shape of the square one! Marg took over Chris' duty as coordinator for a hoot and we all fell in line. But, as soon as the trail started going up again, Marg relented and Chris returned to the front!

View Down Canyon
 When we reached the old cart path again, we decided to turn left. This would increase our mileage by around half a mile as we circled around and down to the visitor center.

Circling Around the Escarpment's East End
 The cart path led us past the telescope and down through some nice shade next to the rock wall.

Aspens Changing Colors in Distance

Back on the Cart Path
 Next, the route led us back to the same steep hill that we climbed earlier. The descent on this hill was much easier! From there, we crossed the old pond site and climbed up to the visitor center. This is a very nice hike that should be done when the temperatures are around 80 degrees or below in the elevation of 7000 feet. There were nineteen happy faces at the end!

7 miles; 750 feet elevation gain; 1400 feet elevation loss; 3.5 hours

Return Down the 35 Degree Slope

Kyle Canyon Escarpment

Spring Mountains Gateway Visitor Center

No comments: