Monday, June 12, 2017

McFarland Approach - 6/12/17

McFarland Peak from Bonanza Trail

Macks Peak from Bonanza Trail

North Loop Ridge from Upper Bristlecone Trail

There's nothing like warm asphalt on a cold morning!
 The Bonanza Trail lies along the Spring Mountain Divide in the Spring Mountains NRA and the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. It runs for 14 miles between Lee Canyon and Cold Creek, Nevada. Five and a half miles from the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead, the Bonanza Trail passes the spur trail that climbs steeply up to McFarland Peak. This is normally the turnaround point for the McFarland Approach hike. However, today's group of nine hikers decided to forego that last half mile of descent and stop for their break at the large shelter before a clearing at the base of McFarland.

Climbing No Name Trail
 We parked at the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead and immediately came upon a beautiful wild horse standing on the helicopter pad. He/she just stood there with only one turn of the head as we passed by and started up the trail.

Approaching No Name Saddle
 It was a very cool morning with our cars showing 39 deegrees. This past weekend's high winds blew in some cold stuff. Unusual for June.

Gathering at the No Name Saddle

Enjoying the Views from No Name Trail
 So, anxious to get warmed up, we scampered up the trail in rag tag fashion. No worries. We knew the trail well and we would gather again one mile up the trail at the No Name Trail junction. By the time we got there, everyone was feeling a little warmer. This is why a light jacket and a pair of gloves are always handy in the pack! When everyone was together again, we started up No Name. This is a tough climb so we spread out again; soon to gather again at the No Name saddle. A light cold breeze passed through here. We were patiently waiting for the sun to do its job and warm us up.

Bristlecone Sculptures
 From this point on, the bristlecone trees presented natural wooden sculptures all around. Sorry to see a handful of newly fallen trees throughout the hike.

Root Sculpture
 When we arrived at the No Name / Bonanza Trail junction, the coordinator suggested that the stronger hikers (about half) go on ahead while the others stayed together in the back.

Starting Bonanza Trail

Distant View on West Side of Bonanza Trail
We were happy to hike along on the beautiful trail at our own pace. For the writer, it presented the unusual opportunity to photograph the trail at every turn ... somewhere in the middle of the pack. Therefore, most of the photos are scenery since most of the time, there were no hikers within photo range. This trail is one of the Spring Mountains' most beautiful. There are many krummholz bristlecones and mountain views are captured on both sides of the Spring Mountain Divide.

Mountains seen from Bonanza Trail
 Charlie was seen behind us for most of the hike while McFarland could be seen in front at every turn. South Sister and Macks Peak rose on the east side of the trail.

Still Approaching McFarland
 The Bonanza Trail rides along the ridge so there is a lot of limestone. There are also at least four shelters built along the trail.

Bonanza Trail

Following the Front Hikers
 These shelters provide good wind breaks when needed. Often, campers come up to this trail to "get away." Horse and riders are also frequent visitors. The trail passes over the high point then delves into a mesmerizing section of gorgeous view after gorgeous view. We breathed in the fresh clear air deeply as we hiked along. Too soon, the front hikers came to the planned turn around at the clearing just past the old large shelter on the ridge. Because of the continuing cold breeze, we backtracked just a little and sat for our break inside the warm shelter. The last hikers (minus one who decided to turn around) arrived soon and we took a longer than usual break.

Various Views on the Bonanza Trail
 We could see the back side of Charleston Peak from the high walled shelter, The wood we sat on was warmed from the sun. Felt good!

Pahrump, Nevada
 After the break ended, we started back on fresh legs. There was a lot of climbing to do right away. But, there would have been a lot more climbing if we had gone all the way down to the normal turnaround point.

Taking a Break at the Old Large Shelter

Small Peak above Bonanza Trail
 We had spread out but we weren't really that far apart. Conversations prevailed over the hike's speed. We passed the landmarks taking note of the beauty once again. Eventually, we gathered at the No Name / Bonanza Trail junction once again. Our partial loop would now continue down the Bonanza switchbacks where we arrived at the Bristlecone Trail. It didn't take long for us to regather and, with a right turn, we were off on the Upper Bristlecone Trail. Beautiful as always.

Hiking through a Clearing
 There had been a freshly fallen tree on the switchbacks creating a difficult place to go around. Later, we had to cross that huge tree that fell across the trail near No Name.

Women of the Around the Bend Friends
 By this time, we were very comfortable and a layer had been shed. Still cool though.

Gathering at the No Name / Bonanza Trail Junction

Upper Bristlecone Trail
 We hiked down the trail gathering one more time at the No Name / Bristlecone junction. The last mile was an easy one going back down to the trailhead. We looked back over our right shoulder to see the wild horses munching down on the ski slope grass. They seem very happy here as residents of Lee Canyon. We all had a great long cool morning!

10 miles; 2400 feet elevation gain; 5.75 hours

Hiking the Bristlecone

Sharp Corner View

Hiking the Last Two Miles

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