Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cockscomb Ridge - 5/28/16

Cockscomb Ridge

Cockscomb Ridge

Cockscomb Ridge

Climbing Trail Canyon
 The second training hike for an upcoming moderate hike to Mt. Charleston Peak was held today with a destination of Cockscomb Ridge. Twenty-one hikers took the bait. About half of the hikers were either moderately strenuous or strenuous hikers that needed a "run" up Trail Canyon to start their season in the higher elevations. The stronger hikers went on ahead agreeing to stop and wait at the Trail Canyon / North Loop saddle. The other half were moderate hikers who stayed with the coordinator for most of the climb up.

We tried to set a pace that we could hang with from beginning to end without more than one or two stops ... still working into summer mountain season. This moderate pace kept us going until just before the halfway point where we had to take our first break.

Trail Canyon Trail
 The second break had to be taken just before the second set of switchbacks started. (Yeah, the "dip.")

Still Climbing
 A small break was taken soon after that to point out and name a few of the surrounding peaks. Cockscomb Ridge rose across from us here and it appeared to be so close!

Cockscomb Ridge from Trail Canyon

Fletcher Canyon from Cockscomb Ridge
 When the moderate hikers reached the saddle, the stronger hikers were waiting along with another very large group of younger folk. We took just a moment to catch our breaths and count the hikers in our group. Then, we turned to the right to hike out Cockscomb Ridge. The first overlook came immediately as we stood on the rock cliff and peered down into Fletcher Canyon. To our left, Mummy's Toe rose stolidly. And, across the canyon was Fletcher Peak, recognized by the rock scars covering the upper portion of the small peak.

Mummy's Toe from Cockscomb Ridge
 On the opposite side of the overlook, we saw Charleston Peak through the trees. It was still covered with snow by around 35%. As the valley temperatures reach into the 100's in the next few days, this snow will mostly disappear.

Climbing Cockscomb Ridge
 We left the overlook and followed a trail out the ridge passing a large campsite. The trail dropped then began to climb as we neared the knife edge portion.

The Knife Edge on Cockscomb Ridge

The Woods of the Trail
 All twenty-one hikers followed in a long line on the knife edge with the very steep scree on their left side. The other side was steep, too, but there were a few trees there to break a fall from any possible missteps. The trail continued to climb until we reached the wooded part of the ridge where the first, and smaller, cockscomb rock rose to our left. We made our way past this rock, ducked under a fallen tree, straddle-crossed another large fallen tree, then found the Cockscomb Peak trail junction to our left just before we made a final climb up to the base of the large peak in front of us.

Under the Log then Over the Log
 The entire ridge loans itself to outstanding photographic scenery above Kyle Canyon in the Spring Mountains NRA.

Turnaround Point at Base of Cockscomb Peak
 We enjoyed the views as we took our extended break but the wind picked up reminding us of the slight chance of thunderstorms in the forecast.

Trail Junction for Cockscomb Peak - Fletcher Canyon Beyond

Starting Down - Watch your head!
 We returned the way we came while the clouds began closing in. Again, the group separated into two strengths. Everyone waited at the saddle before diving down Trail Canyon. The front group moved quickly while the back group moved along with care. The 3 hours in the statistics were calculated from the movements of the moderate group. In the end, this hike is exactly 5.5 miles!

5.5 miles; 1800 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Mt. Charleston from Cockscomb Ridge

Starting Down Trail Canyon

Nearing Trail Canyon Trailhead

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