Monday, October 17, 2016

Landmine Loop CCW - 10/17/16

Cottonwood Valley

Old Car near Oliver Ranch

Spanish Trail Monument

Clouds & Light on Escarpment
 The Landmine Loop is a bike trail that encircles the tertiary ridge behind the small town of Blue Diamond and lies in Red Rock Canyon NCA. It has very little elevation gain and has beautiful and interesting scenery. Today's hike took on the Landmine Loop in the counter-clockwise direction. Nine hikers started at the Blue Diamond Bridge Trailhead and started hiking toward the escarpment in the distance.

Starting Out the Landmine Loop
 This morning, there was a very interesting cloud formation that hung over the peaks of the escarpment. It could have been mixed with smoke from a small wildfire in the nearby Spring Mountains.

Nine Hikers
 Las Vegas had a weather front come through with high winds in the previous two days and the air was fresh. Most of the winds had dissipated by this morning.

Which way David?

Oliver Ranch Debris
 Shortly into the hike, we passed the gate that leads into the Bird Sanctuary below Blue Diamond. The gate was open. Folks, remember to close this gate behind you to keep the bird sanctuary lush with greenery and wildlife. Next, we passed through the "back forty" of the old Oliver Ranch. The BLM now owns this land but, back in the day, the ranch used this part of there property to dump old debris. A lot of the debris is still there. Being over the age limit in the wilderness, the debris will stay where it is.

2.5 Burros
 As we passed through this section, someone with good eyes spotted two burros up on the hillside. A baby and a momma ... and one in the oven!

Zoom Zoom
 An old car still resides in the desert near here. It is likely a 1940 or 1941 DeSoto. Someone has scratched graffiti into the panels and the writer is pretty sure this is a federal offense.

Circling the Tertiary Ridge

Crossing a Wash
 After passing Oliver Ranch and the greenery along Bonnie Springs, we circled around the end of the ridge up to our left. The escarpment stretched to our right and, by now, the clouds had almost disappeared except for a bank that was slightly caressing Mt. Potosi on its way over the peak's ridges. The sun was heating up the desert but we were still very comfortable. We passed by the trail junction where the large panel trail sign is located noting that the Black Velvet trailhead was filled with cars in the distance. These would be the cars owned by the rock climbers who were on the Black Velvet Wall.

North End of Escarpment
 Looking to the north, we could see all the way to the White Rock Hills.

Heading South
 Hiking up the hill into the southern sun, we were headed to the high point of the hike. Here's where we took a short snack break in the shade of a large joshua tree.

Clouds Float over Potosi

Natural Rock Bridge
 The high point of the hike is at another trail junction. As we started a slow descent, we could see the mountains located all the way in Henderson, NV; the southeast suburb of Las Vegas. Shhh. Don't call it a suburb. Anyway, the Landmine Loop reaches in toward the hills at this point and crosses a wash on a naturally occurring rock bridge. Coming out from the inlet, we came to the Black Velvet wash. This large wash crosses Cottonwood Valley and runs all the way down along nearby Highway 160.

Landmine Loop
 Along the wash, bright green desert willows lined the trail in their fall color. The photo below was taken while looking back from where we came.

A View Back
 We circled around the hills to our left as we conjoined with the Old Spanish Trail route. By this time, about five bicycles had passed us on the trail.

Connecting with the Old Spanish Trail

Following the Old Spanish Trail
 We took note of one of the Spanish Trail monuments that had been re-made in recent years then hiked on down to Blue Diamond passing four more bikers. Several of today's hikers stopped in the General Store to have a hot dog for lunch. The kids were out of school already and were playing on their bikes. New contemporary houses are being built and Blue Diamond was buzzing. Great hike on a great day!

8 miles; 900 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Trail to Blue Diamond

Spanish Trail Monument

Upper Trailhead in Blue Diamond

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