Friday, January 5, 2018

Bird Spring Stair Climb - 1/4/18

Bird Spring Range South

Burnt Joshua Silhouette

From Stair Climb to Mt. Potosi

Diving through the Culvert
 After a great Christmas break, Kay would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year! May this year be a great one!

Back on the trails, ... six club members started out at the Late Night Trailhead located on the north side of Highway 160 in Red Rock Canyon NCA. The hike du jour was a climb off trail in the Badger Pass Trail area. When pressured to name the hike, David H. offered it as the Bird Spring Stair Climb alluding to the constant climb up the chosen ridge to a high point that someone who came before us has dubbed "Escarpment Peak." We learned this from the log book that is tucked inside the peak cairn. Technically, it is a peak on the Bird Spring Range escarpment so ....

Leaving the Trail to Bushwhack
 We left the Late Night Trailhead and hiked underneath the highway by way of the large hiking/biking culvert. (Thanks NDOT!) This put us on the Badger Pass Trail heading south.

Climbing Steep Slope to Ridge
 The trail climbs up the side of the wash to the left and then we continued south.

Las Vegas and Frenchman Mountain from Bird Spring Range

Breathing at Top of Steep Climb
 After rounding the first ridge, we left the trail to bushwhack into the first canyon on the east side. There is a faint trail that climbs up beside the wash on the right. It is probably a game trail but those animals are pretty good at knowing the best way to go! This trail led us on and off up to an area near the top of the wash where we could see a feasible climb up to the ridge on the right. This climb has a lot of scree. Sometimes the scree is helpful because it takes the hiker out of the brush but the best footing is on the most solid rock you can find. As we climbed, we took note of the wonderful scenery.

A Few of Many Precambrian Fossils
 It was a beautiful day with very comfortable temperatures. We could see Las Vegas to the northeast, the Wilson Cliffs to the northwest and Mt. Potosi to the southwest.

Red Rock Escarpment from Stair Climb
 Upon gaining the ridge, we stopped for a breather then began the official stair climb with a turn to the left. The long ridge kept us climbing on an intermediate slope.

Stair Climbing with Smiles

Peak in View
 As we climbed, we found many Precambrian fossils in the rocks under our feet. This is a characteristic of the Bird Spring Range. It kept our interest as we talked our way up and up and up. We discovered a few "false peaks" and continued on happily. Finally, we reached the high point of the ridge and found a large cairn waiting for us. With a little searching, we found a jar with a log book inside. David M. almost couldn't get the rusted jar open! Inside, the log book named the peak "Escarpment Peak" and there were very few names written. The most recent name was from one year ago. We added ours! We were the first hiking group to summit the 5020' rise.

Someone named this peak "Escarpment Peak!"
 It had been an enjoyable climb and we looked forward to the next part of the hike.

Las Vegas from Escarpment Peak
 The ridge curved around to the right as it dipped onto a saddle and back up to a slightly lower peak in the distance.

View from First Saddle

Climbing up to Secondary High Point
 We descended gently to the saddle that afforded an interesting view of the other side of the ridge. Then, climbed up to the second peak for our break. This peak opened up a wide view to the south showing the continuance of the Bird Spring Range escarpment. After the break, we descended to the next saddle and found a wild horse game trail that started down into the canyon to our right. David knew of this trail from before. It wasn't real obvious to find. The trail is pretty good if you can find it leading down on the south side of the canyon. We followed this trail all the way down the side of the wash. Once or twice, we ended up on the other side of the wash but we soon returned.

Snack Spot View
 The view in the distance toward the mouth of the canyon is of the Wilson Cliffs. Very pretty!

Exit Canyon - Red Rock Escarpment in Distance

Slowly, the canyon descent flattened out. The horse trail dispersed into options.

Dropping down to Second Saddle

Finding Wild Horse Trail to Descend into Canyon
 There was a long distance of hiking among the wash delta but staying true to the same direction took us to a perpendicular junction with the Badger Pass Trail. It would be difficult to mistake this well worn bike trail for any other trail!  Here, we turned to the right and followed the trail back around that very first ridge, through the culvert and back to the cars. This is a fantastic hike full of off trail excitement and interests. Loved the views and fossils!

5 miles; 1100 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Reaching Canyon Wash on Wild Horse Trail

Following Wild Horse Trail to Canyon Mouth

Badger Pass Trail Junction

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