Friday, December 15, 2017

Boneshaker / Overlooks / Muffins - 12/14/17

Large Red Barrel Cactus in front of Calico Basin and Kraft Mountain

Calico Hills from Boneshaker Trail

New Las Vegas Overlook

Hiking out to Boneshaker Hill (R)
 It was a beautiful ugly day on the North Blue Diamond Hill in Red Rock Canyon NCA! The wind was blowing gusts of around 30 mph at times and the temperatures were the coolest of the season so far. But, the sky was blue, the sun was out and seventeen hikers were hiking in our beloved desert! We started out from the Cowboy Trails Trailhead on Highway 159 one mile south of Red Rock Canyon's Scenic Loop entrance. While we were preparing for the hike, Jackson, the resident stud burro, was braying with cold weather joy as he sensed our presence around the corner.

Starting the Boneshaker Climb
 By the time we hiked past him on our way to the horse corral, he had settled down. We noted that he has much larger digs now. Good for him! He's moving up in the world!

Wilson Cliffs from Boneshaker Hill
 We took the left turn to hike along the corral where all the horses and mules were watching our progress ... or eating and playing.

Hiker on Boneshaker Hill

Gathering at top of initial Boneshaker Hill
 Taking the trails that wound us on a pretty straight line toward the Muffins hill, we arrived at a right turn that headed straight up Boneshaker Hill. That's when the group started to separate a little. The hill is steep and it is a good wake-up call! But the strong group of hikers were not too far apart and we re-gathered at the top of this initial climb. This was just a warm-up and the remainder of the trail provided a steady climb good for heart and lungs. Our fourth pause for breathing, wardrobe change and water sipping was made at the Boneshaker sign. As we had gotten higher on the hill, the wind became stronger so our photo at the sign and lengthened pause got a bit chilly!

Climbing up Narrow part of Ridge between Canyons
 There are several trail junctions that are found in this area. We chose the trail that continued straight up the hill from the sign. Our climb continued.

Into the Sunrise on Boneshaker Trail
 The trail passes the radio tower apparatus that is fenced in on the hill. More solar panels and a cell antenna have been added since our last visit on this trail.

Gathering at Boneshaker Sign

Passing the Radio Tower
 Continuing up this trail, we passed a trail junction to the left that leads out to the Three Amigos Trail. Then we arrived at the cliff overlook dubbed the New Las Vegas Overlook. Boy, was it windy!! So, we took a photo and moved down the trail to the left where we had a little shelter to take our snack break. Next, we continued out this trail dubbed the Rim Trail or Overlook Ridge. We were hiking right on the edge of the cliff on a sturdy trail with beautiful views of the city and the Calico Hills. Finally, the trail dropped down to a ridge saddle where the "Old Las Vegas Overlook" resides. Somewhat tired of the wind, by now, we took our photo and waited for the last of the line of hikers then moved on down the SARS Trail in an attempt to find better weather.

Taking our Break out of the Wind
 We had intended to take the Muffins Trail that climbed up and over the hill and hiked along the ridge toward the Muffins.

Peering through the Cliffrock
 However, when we reached the junction, the wind was blowing in from the north and the better trail was the Muffins Trail that led around the side of the hill.

Following Rim Trail

Old Las Vegas Overlook
 We turned onto this trail and for a short period of time, we were out of the wind. It was a nice respite. But, soon, we had to expose ourselves again to the elements as we circled around and found the rim again. Normally an incredibly enjoyable trail, we were now ready to move faster through the wind. Our stop at the Muffins was short then we headed down the steep hill. A few hikers went on ahead but most of the seventeen stayed together on their downward journey. We found the other hikers waiting for us at the bottom of the hill with smiling faces!

Using SARS Trail to connect to the Muffins Trail
 The wind had started letting up a little on our descent. It was assumed that the wind would stop once we reached our cars! (Isn't that the way it works?)

Muffins Trail
 We paused for a small water break then began our hike back across the desert to the horse corral.

Approaching the Muffins from Above

Major Muffin
 Regardless of the wind, it was a beautiful day and the views were majestic. Smiles everywhere as we passed the horses who were now going on about their business with their heads to the wind ... except one mule who seemed especially interested in us. Wind is not a huge problem for desert hiking as long as you have a buff or scarf over your mouth and nose to ward off those wind cooties that cause sinus mayhem! Great group of hikers today!

6.5 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Starting down the Muffins Trail

Crossing a Wash on the Muffins Trail

Desert Crossing on Return to Cars

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