Sunday, May 1, 2016

Muffins / 2 Overlooks / Boneshaker - 5/1/16

Calico Hills from The Muffins

Las Vegas View from Overlook Rim Trail

Cave Canyon and Escarpment from Boneshaker Hill

Approaching the Mouth of Skull Canyon
 We have had unseasonal weather here in Las Vegas of late so yesterday all hikes were cancelled due to rain. Therefore, seventeen hikers of moderately strenuous nature arrived at the Cowboy Trails trailhead this morning to cure themselves of a bad case of cabin fever. It was a happy bunch! We started up past the horse corral in the Red Rock Canyon NCA and hiked quickly to the base of Boneshaker Hill and the mouth of Skull Canyon. After a brief pause, we started up the Muffins Trail at a strong but not too fast pace.

Skull Canyon
 The sky started out clear this morning and it promised us that the rain was over in the valley and the lower elevations. We could see that a tremendous amount of snow had fallen over the Spring Mountains next door. There were only snow patches dotting Red Rock in the higher parts.

Starting Up the Muffins Trail
 But, we surmised that the tanks (tenajas) were full to the brim in the Calico Hills and Gateway Canyon probably looked a little different from the torrents that likely flowed down between the colorful walls.

Passing a Canyon Wash

Arriving at the Muffins
Conversations were nonstop as we climbed the hill to the conglomerate boulders we call The Muffins. There were a few stops for water, breathing and re-gathering. But the pace stayed steady and we arrived nearly the same time.

One hiker was carrying a thirty pound backpack today. Yes, it is the time of year when various hikers start training for exciting backpacking excursions. If you see a hiker on the trail with an over-large backpack over the summer, ask him or her what he or she is training for. It might be Kilimanjaro!

View from the Muffins
 We stopped at the Muffins for a water break and to make sure the last hikers were doing okay. Blooming strawberry hedgehog cacti complemented the colorful view of the Calico Hills.

Old Las Vegas Overlook from the Ridge Above
 Next, we chose the Muffins Trail that climbs up along the ridge then down to the continuation of the SARS Trail where we turned left.

Overlook Rim Trail

The Hike High Point
The SARS Trail took us down to cross the upper reaches of a short canyon then back up the other side to the Old Las Vegas Overlook. At one time, this was the only Las Vegas Overlook. Another short break for added sun block and a few photos. Then the hike continued up the rim of the North Blue Diamond Hills on the Overlook Rim Trail. We could see the city all along the rim but the view behind us was getting large enough to include snippets of the snow capped mountains beyond the La Madre Mountain Range.

Bow Tie on Rock Outcropping
 As we turned the corner at the hike's high point, we saw a blooming cactus on the wall of that tall rock outcropping. It looked like a bow tie!

New Las Vegas Overlook
 Arriving at the New Las Vegas Overlook, we found a place to take our extended snack break. The city view was almost clear and there were very few clouds to the east.

Passing the Radio Tower

Passing the Boneshaker Sign Junction
But, as we finished our break and turned around to start our descent, we saw that the clouds were building over the Red Rock escarpment as moisture was sucked up into the warmish atmosphere from the abundance of snow that had fallen in the last few days. It was not threatening; simply a beautiful display. We hiked down past the radio tower and on to the Boneshaker sign junction. Still talking up a storm.

Dropping Down the Upper Boneshaker Trail
 The upper portion of the Boneshaker Trail slopes gently in nature. It gave us a chance to enjoy the scenery ahead of us.

Hillside of Blooming Strawberry Hedgehog Cacti
 As the trail begins to pass through a narrow section of the hill, the trail becomes a bit steeper. Still, it offered great new perspectives for photography.

Blooming Utah Agave Century Plants

Yucca Frame
 Finally, we reached the top of the main Boneshaker Hill. There was a steep trail drop down to the area near the mouth of Skull Canyon where we began our climb earlier. Careful as we went, we re-gathered at the bottom of the hill then turned left one more time to hike back over to the horse corral. The dark clouds billowed over Wilson Peak as we signed out of a great hike on the North Blue Diamond Hills.

7 miles; 1450 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Beginning Steep Part of Boneshaker Hill

Boneshaker Hill Descent

Returning with Rain Clouds over the Escarpment

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