Sunday, August 14, 2016

McFarland Approach - 8/14/16

McFarland Peak at Yellow Flower Saddle

McFarland Rock Outcroppings

Rock Outcroppings on Return

Starting Upper Bristlecone Trail
 The McFarland Approach hike has it all when you are talking about training for Mt. Charleston. Distance, altitude, interval training, and those all important endless hills to climb and descend. So, for our last official training hike before next week's hike to the 12,000' peak of Mt. Charleston, eight hikers came out for the beautiful 12 miles; most of which were on the Bonanza Trail of the Spring Mountains Divide. It was a beautiful day that started out very cool. We began at the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead.

No Name Junction - Fresh Faces

Climbing Steep No Name Trail

Gathering at the No Name Saddle

Old Bristlecones on No Name Trail
 The eight hikers stayed together for most of the day. On long hikes, it is very nice to have everyone within sight of each other. We made our first stop at the No Name Trail junction. Our second stop was at the No Name Saddle. The No Name Trail woke up all of us with its steepness but, once we were on top, the terrain and elevation changes became easier. We hiked through the beautiful old bristlecone forest then took a short rest at the Bonanza Trail junction. Next came the Bonanza Trail as we faced the steps section.

Starting Up Bonanza Trail

Passing Pine Cone Canyon Junction

Bonanza Trail decorated with Bristlecones

Climbing newly maintained Small Switchbacks
 We followed horse tracks up the hill and around the first intermediary peak. We had no idea why the dirt had been kicked up so much. How many horses had there been? (And, evidence was very fresh!) We passed Pine Cone Canyon junction then hiked around to the small switchbacks leading up to another intermediary peak. Ahhh! Very recently (maybe yesterday), someone had worked hard at re-creating the small switchbacks. We assumed that the horses were used to carry equipment and supplies. Kudos to the workers!

Bonanza Trail along Ridge of Spring Mountain Divide

McFarland Peak seen from Bonanza Trail

Beautiful Snag

Little Hikers - Big McFarland
 We hiked on around and over the high point of the route then passed the South Sister Saddle Trail junction. The next part of the trail doesn't get hiked as often and we enjoyed the new scenery. It was obvious to us that the trail was now descending in a general fashion. Soon, McFarland Peak was looming near. We could also see Macks Peak, North Sister and South Sister on the right side of the ridge. A few ascents still peppered the hike until we reached the Yellow Flower Saddle. Yep. There seems to always be yellow flowers growing here in the summer.

McFarland Peak Rock Outcroppings

Descending to the McFarland Peak Trail Junction

Cairns indicate the McFarland Peak Trail

Snack Break at the Junction
 After the saddle, the trail begins a deep descent that we were already not looking forward to for the return. Finally, we reached the area where McFarland splits in two and a treacherous scree field eerily invites hikers to ascend. The trail junction for this is marked by gateway cairns straight ahead where the Bonanza Trail switchbacks down to the left. We stopped here for our extended break and only pondered what it would be like to climb the forbidding peak. From our perch, we could see Pahrump, NV below.

View of Pahrump from Junction

Passing Rock Outcroppings on Return

Respite from Climb Out

Yellow Flower Saddle
 Well rested, we slowly began our climb out. The pace was adjusted accordingly and we reached the Yellow Flower Saddle rather painlessly. Here, we took a short side trip to see the large shelter located on the ridge in front of us. Next, we continued tackling the hefty ascents. There were a few breathing stops along the way. It wasn't until just before we returned to the South Sister Saddle Trail junction that we could breathe easy for a little while. Then, we climbed up and over the peak with the small switchbacks on the other side.

Large Camp Shelter near Yellow Flower Saddle

Macks Peak from Bonanza Trail

Enjoying a Descent

Small Switchbacks
 We passed Pine Cone Canyon junction then had one more substantial hill to climb. Very happy, we then descended the steps section to the No Name Trail junction where we took a short break. Since it was a training hike, our return took the long way back by descending the Bonanza Trail switchbacks to the Bristlecone Trail. A right turn here started us on the very last long hill. This simple hill was very difficult at this point! Finally, we passed the corner overlook and started down to the No Name Trail junction.

Nearing the No Name Junction

Descending Bonanza Switchbacks

Junction with Bristlecone Trail

South Sister at Corner Overlook
 The last mile of hiking was somewhat painful for a few of us. Our feet were killing us!! Nevertheless, we kept moving and hiked through the aspens to reach the fenced portion of the trail. Here, we posed for a photo that depicted the way we all felt deep inside ... okay, not so deep ... and hiked back to the cars. A great day! It was beautiful and we all felt so alive and happy!

12 miles; 2500 feet elevation gain; 5.5 hours

Last Leg ... er, Legs

Through the Aspens

Try to look tired! ... Thanks.


Las Vegas Cockapoo said...

Bonanza Trail Steps -- Back Country Horsemen of Nevada

Glad you noticed the new switchback steps built last weekend by the Back Country Horsemen of Nevada Bristlecone Chapter! On behalf of BCHNV, thanks for the kudos!

Working in coordination with the USFS, from eight to ten men and women, all members of the local Bristlecone Chapter of BCHNV, spent two days last weekend to reconstruct the badly deconstructed / eroded switchback so that it would be safe and equine-friendly. This was a follow-up to a previous two-day workout on the same switchback in late July. Yes, it was hard work -- for the horses and mules who carried the tools and supplies and pulled all those logs up to the switchback -- as well as for the people!

You can see more photos of the project and the work in progress HERE. (If you look really closely, you can see an old Around the Bend Friends long-sleeved grey t-shirt on one of the volunteers (me in photo 20 of 37.)) You can learn more about the BCHNV HERE.

Best regards,


Las Vegas Cockapoo said...

Alright. We are becoming world renowned in print.

I am very proud to be a part of BCHNV. Always makes me feel good to see other people appreciate hard work.

Thank You
Pete Jensen
Sound Plumbing