Monday, March 21, 2016

Lake Las Vegas Overlook via Tombstone Rock - 3/16/16

Tombstone Rock

Lake Las Vegas Overlook & Lava Butte

Single Blooms

Starting Up One of Many Washes
 Last week, Chuck and Joan brought out an oldie but goodie for the Around the Bend Friends club members. It was an interesting hike that began at the old ranger station on Lakeshore Road. Susan M. took a few photos for this entry and Joan wrote the narrative seen below.

This hike to a beautiful overlook of Lake Las Vegas, Lake Mead and Las Vegas and the surrounding area was previously called Tombstone Rock.  Thirteen hikers went on this hike on a beautiful spring day with a small breeze.  There were many varieties of blooming flowers to enjoy.     
Following Power Lines
We started at the old ranger and then crossed Lakeshore Drive to the wash leading to “Bullet Wash’’ which we then climbed into.  We found a few bullets/shells.
Side Canyon Excursion
We passed Tombstone Rock and climbed up to an overlook before turning right on an old dirt road.  This road took us to the wash with the tall dry fall we would have to climb around.  After passing the gypsum wash we would be returning in and going up a rocky wash, we finally reached the very tall dry fall.
Found in the Side Canyon

Continuing Up
  After enjoying the dry fall, we started up the scree on the slope on the right side of the dry fall.  We stopped to view and take pictures of a big sheep head hidden previously by the leaders.  Chris climbed to the ridge top and found easier walking up there.
At the end of the wash, we came to the mining campsite/”gravesite” area on a small hill to the left.  Hikers looked around seeing what was left behind before heading to the snack break area on a nearby peak.  This peak has a jug handle arch on the left side and a cairn on top.  We climbed the rocky slope and settled in for our snack.  Jackie had brought a sign-in container with paper and pen.  ABF members then inaugurated the new sign-in register and enjoyed the beautiful views.  

Nice Specimen
  After our snack, we retraced our steps to the campsite area and hiked to a nearby wash for the start of our return loop.  This wash was very different from our previous wash.   

Near the Grave Site
  It had a lot of white conglomerate rock that look like concrete and made for easy walking.  Along the way, we saw tortoise burrow openings and lots of blooming flowers.  

At the Grave Site

Climbing to Overlook

We eventually arrived at two long dry falls we had to climb down by lowering ourselves through them.  Then, we exited the wash by going up the left bank and climbing to a nearby mesa. 
The mesa area was a real highlight of the hike.  There were many blooming pink beavertail cactus plants in the area.  On top, I almost stepped on a tortoise and we took pictures of the patient tortoise.  

Taking a Break
 Of note was the tortoise’s bright red nose (probably obtained from snacking on the nearby beaver tail cactus buds and blooms).  

Las Vegas View
 We continued up the mesa top for its views of Las Vegas and Lake Mead and an array of pink blooming cactus plants. 

Lake Las Vegas View

Starting Descent
   We then backtracked down the mesa top to “Easter Island” Rock below.  We exited through a pretty gypsum wash returning to the beginning of our tall dry fall wash.  We turned right for a very short while before turning left to head to the tall cottonwood tree and aqueduct spring.  Along the way we passed the tent frame remains of an old camp site.  When the hike leaders first went by it over 10 years ago, it appeared to be occupied with a closed tent on the frame and lots of outside bottles and other stuff.    
Toes Forever
 We continued on down to the cottonwood tree and ducked under the aqueduct pipe to see the new hose that takes water from the aqueduct to make a spring.

Down Through a Different Wash
 Then we took the old road to the right passing the now fenced in locked sheds controlling the aqueduct. 


Almost Back
  Years ago, there were no fences or locks and you could look in and see a big wheel in each shed.  The River Mountain Trail goes near the old dirt aqueduct road and when we reached Tombstone Rock, we turned left and climbed a very short hillside to another dirt road leading us back toward the old ranger station.  Here Susan M. had her “fireworks” moment.  Having just been on Kay’s great Death Valley trip, I was very familiar with five-spot flowers.  There was one on the side of the dirt road.  Susan said she had never seen one in the Lake Mead area and for her seeing one was even better than seeing the live tortoise. ~ Joan

7 miles; 1400 feet elevation gain; 4.5 hours

What have you done with your nose?

Returning via River Mountains Trail

Desert Blooms

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