Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pine Cone Canyon Loop - 7/28/16

Pine Cone Canyon

Bonanza Trail at Junction of Pine Cone Canyon

Bonanza Trail at Junction of No Name Trail

Lower Bristlecone Trail
 Eight hikers drove up Lee Canyon Road to arrive at the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead just past the meadow on the right in the Spring Mountains NRA. It was a beautiful morning here while the Las Vegas valley was expecting a day with record high temperatures. We felt lucky! Our trail would take us up the Lower Bristlecone Trail to the hairpin turn where there is an old road/trail turning off to the right. This trail leads to Pine Cone Canyon. We hiked up the forest road at a moderately strenuous pace and took a small break at that junction.

Into Woods of Pine Cone Canyon
 The Pine Cone Canyon Trail starts out innocently as it passes the weather station on the right. There is also a shelter built here and a campsite on the left.

Relentlessly Steep Pine Cone Canyon

Arriving at Bonanza Trail
 As soon as the terrain changed to the steepness that would persist all the way up to the ridge, the group separated. The front hikers detoured up on the ridge to the right while the slower hikers stayed in the canyon. We took several stops as we trudged up through the pine cones. It was a very good workout. And, it would be the only really difficult part of the morning so we enjoyed every minute of it! Finally, we arrived at the top of the ridge where the front hikers were waiting for us on the Bonanza Trail.

Bonanza Trail with Charleston Peak in Background
 We needed a longer short rest here! Then we turned to the left and started up another little hill on the Bonanza Trail. We had to circle around one of the trail's many small peaks before we reached the wilderness junction where No Name turns off to the right. We sat here for our snack break.

Bonanza Trail at Junction of No Name Trail

Descending Bonanza Trail Switchbacks
 The skies were getting cloudy but we did not expect monsoons since we thought wrong that there was only a 20% chance. So, we kept our reasonable pace and descended the Bonanza switchbacks. At the junction with the Bristlecone Trail, we turned to the right onto the Upper Bristlecone. The temperatures were really nice since the clouds were covering the sun. The group stayed together as we hiked smoothly down the trail. We had just left the lower No Name Trail junction when we heard a thunder clap and just about jumped out of our skin!

Arriving at Junction of Bristlecone Trail
 The pace immediately sped up to a slow run! First it was a light sprinkle that spoke, "I'll be done in a minute." Then the rain increased. Rain jackets (those who had them) were donned and the thunder continued. We did not see the lightening so it was possible that that danger was not too too close by.

Starting Up Upper Bristlecone Trail

Cloudy on Upper Bristlecone
   The rain increased again ... and it began to hail little tiny icelets. (New word.) Most of us had shorts on so it was a little cold. At any rate, we arrived at the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead intending to continue down to our cars when a pair of helpful hikers offered our drivers a ride down to the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead to retrieve the cars. We had reached 5.5 miles so our 6 mile day was done. Fun! Fun! Fun! (BTW, it was 54 degrees when we left the trailhead and 106 degrees when we reached I-95 at the bottom of Lee Canyon Road.)

5.5 miles; 1400 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Nice Old Roots

Switchback Overlook

Upper Bristlecone Trail

No comments: