Thursday, September 3, 2015

Missing Link Loop - 9/3/15

Showgirl Missing Link

La Madre Peak from Descent off of Ridge

Fletcher Peak from Hike a Bike Trail

Dropping Down from Pixie Trailhead
 Oh, the Showgirl Trail. Wherefore art thou Showgirl Trail? Today's hike was an exploratory to answer just that question. The Spring Mountains Gateway Visitor Center rangers advised that hikers were getting all confused trying to find the trail so they took the trail off of the handout map. We were also assured that the trail was there completed and easy to follow. We now knew where that elusive trail began ... or did we? Yep. That fantastic tool for hikers everywhere, Google Earth, seems to also be confused since it names a trail below the ridge the Showgirl Trail. It can't be on the ridge and below the ridge at the same time! ... Can it?

Hike a Bike Bridge
 This conundrum of the "Showgirl Missing Link" piqued the interest of fifteen hikers today. A great turnout! So, we began at the bikers' Pixie Trail turnout and warmed up with a very pleasant walk in the woods on the Hike a Bike Trail.

Morning View from Hike a Bike Trail
 We climbed a gentle hill up to the Camp Trail junction and dropped down a short way to the scary overlook of the road far below and Mummy Mountain above. (Again, please be careful at this slippery overlook area.) We also saw our cars at the Pixie Trail turnout from here.

Staying Together on Hike a Bike Trail

Overlook View - Our cars can be seen at the trailhead.
 After the overlook, we connected with the Camp Trail on the other side of the trail circle here and descended a gentle slope down to turn right onto the Showgirl Trail. We followed the well worn trail as it dipped down and up. Then, we came to the junction of the trail in question. Previously, we had to step over a line of rocks. Today, these rocks had been rearranged into a cairn. "Go this way." Okay, so far so good. On those previous hikes, we had followed this trail out for around a mile and turned back. Today, we set out to follow this trail until we came off the ridge!

Trail Junction for Showgirl Missing Link
 The trail hiked through the shade then came to a somewhat bare saddle with rocks lining the trail. With practiced feet, we continued to the other side of the ridge. Onward.

Shaded Trail

Reaching the Ridge Overlooks
We passed the wash with the log crossing it where we had taken a break before. Then continued along the ridge until we reached the spot where everything became "new." Onward, again! The trail was old and not well worn but it was very clear, at this point, and we were enjoying it very much. The views became very pretty especially when the trail took a hard turn to the left and followed the contour of the hillside. The trail was laid out in very long large "wiggles" as we inched our way down the end of the ridge that we had completed.

The Trail Begins to Fade
 As the trail began to drop more, it was pretty obvious that this section was less used. Up until this point, it appeared that only the occasional biker has passed through by reading the trail imprints. Those imprints started disappearing and the trail started to fade.

Still a Trail

Trail Balances above Limestone Cliff
 The trail became worse for footing but we passed by a couple of spots where the trail balanced along the top of limestone cliffs. This was fun and pretty. Then we continued hunting for the trail. As we neared the top of a knoll, we decided to stop for our break. We could see a small canyon wash flowing into the AtBF Canyon beyond. At this point, we really had not lost a lot of elevation. When was that going to happen? Everyone was hanging in there. Their sense of adventure had control. So, after the break, we continued out and began dropping.

Hiking over the Top of a Knoll
 Soon, we could see Telephone Canyon below. This was exciting! Maybe the trail would pan out!

Another Cliff Trail

Uh Oh! Trail Starts to Completely Disappear
But, uh oh. The trail got worse and worse as we started a steeper and steeper descent. Sure, it is possible that we missed a turn. But, out of fifteen pairs of eyes, no one saw any alternatives that looked any better than the chosen route of the coordinator. Finally, we lost the trail all together and since we were near a wash when this happened, we assumed that the trail might descend in the wash. Five strong hikers started traversing to their right and down. It turns out that this was a good choice. The rest of us, continued down the wash and found ourselves almost all the way into AtBF Canyon! Not where we wanted to end up but, at the same time, we knew where we were!

Bushwhacking in Steep Terrain
 Knowing that the ... ahem ... other Showgirl Trail was nearby, we started traversing over to it. Finally, we found it and had to climb up to where the group of five were standing. Together again, we started climbing on this trail toward Telephone Canyon, to the right.

Ah! Back on a Nice Trail (also called Showgirl Trail)
 This is quite an ascent here. Finally, we started a small descent, crossed Telephone Canyon Road and started hiking up the gentle Tin Can Alley Trail.

Tin Can Alley Trail

Trough Trail
 At the known junction, we crossed the road again and started up the Trough Trail. Whew! We saved the steepest climb for last! All the way up the Trough Trail, passing the wildlife troughs, we climbed taking rests when we needed them. At last, we junctioned with the Hike a Bike Trail and turned left to return the way that we had come. We ended the hike still not knowing if we had really found the "completed" Showgirl Trail. Perhaps it comes down to making sure you do your research before attempting the Showgirl Trail. There's always bushwhacking!

9 miles; 2100 feet elevation gain; 5.75 hours

Troughs on Trough Trail

Oops! Where did everybody go?

Tired and Happy!

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