Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jean's Peak - 1/7/16

Jean's Peak Cairn (Visible from Northshore Road)

View West from Ridge

The Desert Colosseum from Jean's Peak

Starting Up the Ascent Canyon
 The forecast was slightly foreboding; 30% chance of rain and a little wind during the late morning hours. But, when six hikers stepped out of their cars at the call box trailhead (mile marker 25) on Northshore Road, blue skies opened up overhead. Gorgeous, photogenic clouds laid over the surrounding miles of terrain and there was already one lone photographer up on a nearby hill capturing the moment. We crossed the road and walked just a little to the right before finding a small trail into the canyon beyond.

View Back from Ascent near Arch
 The ascent canyon was filled with chert covered limestone boulders. There was a small game trail up on the right of the wash but the easy scrambling in the center attracted most of us.

Double Arch High in Ascent Canyon
 This was an exploratory hike which had been mapped out only once by Chuck H. So, an early climb up the right side of the hill brought us to a false lead. We found the sought for double arch a little further on and it was a doozy!

Starting the Climb Up from the First Saddle

Arriving at the Second Saddle
 The arch appeared to have housed a few bighorns recently; perhaps during this week's rains. A little more gentle climbing and we came to the first saddle of significance. From this point of view, we could already see Pinto Valley and Redstone. We turned to our right and climbed some more. There were a couple of gulleys to cross over or go around before we turned up to the right to avoid a larger canyon wash. The climb flattened out and we came to the second significant saddle. The views that opened up were breathtaking!

Desert Colosseum and Lake Mead from Second Saddle
 In front of us, we could see the Desert Colosseum and, to the right, a sliver of Lake Mead. Virgin Peak would normally be rising in the distance across the lake, but today, the clouds shrouded the pointy peak.

Placing a Log Book Container at Jean's Peak Cairn
 We hiked around the saddle and looked up to the west. The huge Jean's Peak Cairn could be seen on top of the hill. We started up.

View Toward Northshore Road Mile Marker 22 from Ridge Traverse

Starting Ridge Traverse
 At the cairn, the views only got better! We found a good stash for the log book container Chuck brought and we all signed in. Looking to our left, the continuing ridge beckoned us. As we hiked along the ridge, we could see that the other side of the hill was a very steep cliff down to Northshore Road. There are two little "peaks" along the ridge that could be considered high points. Then the ridge starts losing elevation. We queried about whether there was a way to continue down the ridge to a saddle seen below where we could continue to climb the neighboring peak.

Red Fingers
 Satisfied that it was possible, we decided to try, in the future, a point to point hike beginning from mile marker 22 hiking up to this point where we built a large fat cairn. We may have to continue building the cairn over the next few times we visit it!

Chuck Debuts Jean's Peak Hike
 After doing a little exploration, we returned to Jean's Peak Cairn the way we came and took our snack break. The wind was beginning to pick up but the rain clouds were missing us to the north.

Interesting Sheep Trails Below

Redstone from the Ridge
 We dropped back down to the second saddle and returned across the gulleys. This section of the hike will need to be perfected. A few cairns have been built but they blend in easily with the rock covered hillsides. Our destination was the first saddle. During the crossover, a few of us had our own ideas and we got separated from one of the hikers. Thinking we would meet up with him, we turned to our right to begin the descent canyon. This was a nice narrow canyon with large chert covered boulders similar to the ascent canyon where we started.

Building a Cairn at the End of the Ridge Traverse
 There were a few clear puddles of water in the small canyon but the sheep trails on the right hillside were easily followed. The familiar walls of Jean's Canyon approached.

Clouds, Shadows & Limestone
 At the bottom of our descent and the junction with Jean's Canyon, we realized that that hiker was nowhere to be seen. As a new hiker in the club, we were not too sure where he could have gone.

Starting Down Descent Canyon from First Saddle

Descent Canyon / Jean's Canyon Junction
 After minutes of calling and whistling, a hiker was able to locate him and we were on our way turning left into Jean's Canyon. Wow! Jean's Canyon was very very muddy! We made our way down the normally dry pretty canyon with the mud piling up on our shoes. Actually, it was kind of fun! Back at the cars, we all removed our shoes for the drive home! This is the beginning of the development of an excellent hike.

4.5 miles; 1200 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

After-Rain Colors

Muddy Jean's Canyon Descent

Through the Red Mud and Out


Las Vegas Cockapoo said...

Kay--Enjoyed reading your blog and viewing the photos! I like the idea of a point-to-point discovery hike.--Chuck H.

Las Vegas Cockapoo said...

Clouds always seem to accentuate the photos and make for better pics. Good shots on the Lake Mead hike yesterday.