Saturday, October 10, 2015

Lower Showgirl - 10/10/15

Tall Joshua Tree & Charleston Peak

Clump of Joshuas

Trail Follows Lateral Contour

Starting Up from Kyle Canyon Road
 Twenty-two hikers gathered for the leisurely hike this morning. We drove up Kyle Canyon Road to almost mile marker 14 where there is a sign posted on the gravel road turn to the left. It says, "NO ENTRY, Burned Area, Closed for Human Safety and Resource Protection." This is the Lower Showgirl Trailhead and we parked 4 of our 5 cars on the side of the paved road. (Note of warning: One of our cars drove past the sign to park and was rewarded with a citation.) In order to access the Showgirl Trail without marching through the roadside brush, we hiked past the sign and down to a tunnel that runs underneath Kyle Canyon Road to begin our hike.

Hiking Up along the Wash in the Bird Spring Formation
 Most of the elevation gain for this hike was done in the first mile as we climbed up from the road and along a wash. After climbing out of the wash, the slope became much more gentle.

Climbing Out of Wash

Leveling Out
 We found ourselves surrounded by joshua trees, banana yuccas, ancient creosote bushes, and manzanita. With the exception of the unusual placement of manzanita, these are the Upper Sonoran Desert flora that usually grow in the elevations between 4000' and 6000'. As our hike led us higher, juniper, pinyon pine trees and ephedra (Mormon Tea) grew along the trail putting us in the Transition life zone. The entire hike is located within the Kyle Canyon alluvial fan where Ice Age (Pleistocene) conglomerate type deposits were cemented together when there was much more precipitation.

Winding Through the Upper Sonoran Desert
 The trail started winding in and out along the contours of the terrain. This is a very wiggly trail! And, with each long wiggle, we were able to keep eyes on all of the twenty-two hikers.

Forest Road with Access from BLM Fire Station to Wooden Pole Powerline Road
 Just over 1.5 miles, we crossed the forest road that gives access from the BLM fire station up to Angel Peak by way of the Wooden Pole Powerline Road. This high clearance 4WD road is somewhat treacherous for hiking.

Long Line of Hikers

Joshua Tree Clump
 After crossing the dirt road, we climbed to the high point for the day then leveled off for a short distance. The coordinator meant to stop at 2.5 miles but when the terrain flattened out, she got too comfortable and continued on until 2.7 miles. Here, we found a smidgen of shade and took our break. The temperature was around 80 degrees. This hike would probably be best if it was a bit cooler. Nevertheless, it wasn't too bad and we all kept drinking our supplies of water. Just a few days ago, it was about twenty degrees cooler and snow fell on the upper elevations of Charleston Peak. Today, almost all the snow was gone.

View of Fletcher Peak on Return Zigzag
 With the exception of one small uphill, the return to the cars was all downhill. We kept a leisurely steady pace but still needed to wait on a couple of the slower club members.

Starting Slow Descent with South Loop in Distance

Charleston Peak seen from Last Half Mile
Like the ascent, there were several stops on the descent. The group was diverse in strength but the appointed Saturday leisurely hike is and always will be leisurely. We hiked back down into the initial wash and came out through the tunnel built under Kyle Canyon Road. This was a nice relaxed hike with new wide open views of the Kyle Canyon landscape and beyond.

5.5 miles; 700 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Dropping Back into Initial Wash

Kyle Canyon Road in Sight

Hiking Through the Tunnel to the Trailhead

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