Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lone Palm - 2/15/18

Lone Palm River Overlook

Lone Palm Hot Springs

Hoover Dam Bridge and Colorado River from Overlook Area

Down the Old Road to the Wash Below
 There are five hot springs along the shores of the Colorado River in the three miles below Hoover Dam. They are Arizona Hot Springs (aka Ringbolt Hot Springs), Goldstrike Hot Springs, Boy Scout Hot Springs, Moonscape Hot Springs and Lone Palm Hot Springs. Today, fifteen hikers parked at the Lone Palm Trailhead just to the west of Exit 1 on Highway 93 in Arizona. This is Kingman Wash Road in the Lake Mead NRA. Although the trails here seem to indicate a turn to the right, the absolute better way to go is to the left down an old asphalt track by the highway culvert. This drops you into a wash. This entry will attempt to give directions to one of the Lone Palm loop routes. (It's complicated.)

Remnants of Road Gate Chain
 Turn right in the wash and make a fairly quick left up the bank. This puts you on the continuance of that old road which takes you down a longer hill to another larger wash.

Climbing to the Overlook Area
 Turn right again. Now, allow the wash to lead you down until you begin to drop into an easy scramble. Pass a cottonwood tree coming out of the left side rock. The tree is hanging on for dear life.

Parts from Dam Building

Overlook Cliff above River
 As part of the Lone Palm hike, we always include a hike up the old road on the right side of the wash here. This takes you to a great bridge / river overlook. It is an area that seems to have been used for staging of construction equipment during the time of the dam building since there are rusted artifacts lying around here. We hiked straight over to the overlook side and took the circle tour of the scenery. We also got a look at the mouth of Goldstrike Canyon which comes out right across the river from here; albeit about 150 feet straight down!

Route from Overlook
 At the last part of the counter-clockwise tour, we looked down to see the next part of our hike leading down, up and over to the Lone Palm Hot Springs.

The Hill
 We hiked back down the old road and dropped into the wash. A new addition on today's hike was to use a marked trail up and around on the left side of the wash. This is a different way to get around the dry fall in the wash. (We usually just skirt the dry fall on its right side.)

Looking down from top of Hill to Dry Fall in Main Wash

Down the Chute
 Back in the wash, we hiked through a narrow part then headed up the steep hill to the left. (Try using the trail on the left side. It takes a little bit of sting out of the climb!) At the lip of this hill, we turned to the left and continued going up to a saddle. Next, we channeled down to a fun chute and continued dropping until we were in a small wash heading toward the river. Wait! The trail continues by climbing a rock bank up to the left. Pass a hoodoo. (See photo below.) Then start dropping again. The next wash you drop into that is heading toward the river is the hot springs.

Passing a Hoodoo
 If you want to take a dip in the hot springs, take a right. There are two pools if the sand is sufficiently scooped out.

Upper Hot Spring Pool
 Otherwise, cross the hot stream and climb the hillside. Turn right and follow the trail down to the rock outcroppings above the river.

The Lone Palm River Overlook

Cliffs Above
 There are a few palm trees next to the river now, so don't expect a "lonely" one! Most of us climbed up and over the rocks and headed out to the outcropping closest to the river above the waterfall. If you would like to view the waterfall up close, do a messy drop down to the left of the rock and make your way over to the right. This can only be done when the river is low unless you don't mind getting wet. Today, we could hear the waterfall running very strong. We took a nice break here among the gorgeous scenery.

Taking the Trail to the Scramble Wash
 Looking back up the canyon, we saw high cliffs. These cliffs are basically what our loop route encircles.

The Escalator Down
 After the break, we retraced our steps to where we had climbed up out of the hot stream. A trail led us around the side of this small mountain on the right and into a wash.

Scrambling Here and There

More Scrambling
 Right away, we began scrambling in this wash. There is some good stuff here! A moderate scrambling workout. The group stayed together pretty well. When the wash leveled out, we followed the sand until we reached the Eye of the Needle wash junction. This wash junction is so called because of an unusual white spot on a rock about twenty-five feet up on the west side. We turned left into a smaller wash and began more scrambling of a moderately strenuous nature. Although there are a couple of go arounds, we stayed in or near the wash until we found a flattish section.

 Here is where a trail can be found on the other side of the wash. It leads on a traverse and then starts to climb up to a saddle.

Our Fearless Coordinator among Brittlebushes
 Here's where it gets a little tricky. Follow the trail on a fairly straight route but don't follow it around to the right. (Well, you can but it's longer.)

Chuck nearing the Eye of the Needle Junction

Steep Wash to Trail Up
 The preferred trail will lead you along a large barren saddle then curve around a little to the right up and over onto the top terrain. Here, you will begin to see Highway 93. Before the highway was "new and improved" about six years ago, the trailhead for the Lone Palm hike was just off the pavement not far from here. We used to do the loop in a clockwise direction. This included a section of wash that we no longer do since it is no longer a direct route back to the trailhead. But, the large dry fall, here, that is adorned with an inscription from 1955 is still on the route and a few of us took a look see.

 The other hikers went on ahead and when we were done looking down the dry fall, we had to play catch up.

Arriving at the Trail Leading Up and Out
 We stayed in the shallow wash that headed straight from the dry fall toward the cars until the wash got wide and began a descent.

Trail up Ridge

Trail on Saddle
 Here, there is a cairn up on a little saddle to the right. This is a nice trail that will take hikers back to the smaller wash that the very first old asphalt track drops into. (Another hint: take the up and over on the right side. It's a lot easier than the scramble at the bottom.) From here, we turned right and hiked up the track to the cars. Yes, there are a lot of directions for this loop but when you learn the route, it is worth the learning process. This hike is one of the best that Lake Mead NRA has to offer and will live long and prosper. Great group today!

6 miles; 1400 feet elevation gain; 4.25 hours

Neat Writing above Large Dry Fall

Standing atop Large Dry Fall

Starting across Desert back to Trailhead

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cheyenne Mountain Loop - 2/13/18

Northeast End of La Madre Wilderness

Trail around End of Cheyenne Ridge

Cheyenne Mountain in front of Summerlin Peak (from Buckskin Cliff Shadows Park)

Toque Trail
The weather turned cold again and a total of eleven hikers came out for two different hikes. The more difficult hike was Summerlin Peak but a moderate hike of the Cheyenne Mountain Loop was easier for five of those hikers to swallow. We all started out at the same time from the same trailhead. It was great to see Steve Anderson there to say "hi." The leg is still in a soft cast and he is on crutches but he can't wait to get back on the trails! The loop hikers started north and the peak hikers started west and that was almost the last we saw of each other!

View up toward Cheyenne Mountain Peak
We followed the Toque Trail as it winded around the mountain ridge. It is located fairly low on the mountain but never reached all the way down to the surrounding ground.

Toque Trail heading toward Gilmore Cliff Shadows Park
BTW, a "toque" is a small woman's hat without a brim. Hmf. Okay.

Circling the Ridge

Trail Sign
Anyway, the trail on the east side of the mountain has several off shoots for bicycles going up or down. We stayed on the most worn trails when faced with a decision. This nipped us in the ### on the back side when, somehow, we got off route for a large piece of the hike. Nevertheless, we knew how to get back on track when we reached the saddle area. We stopped here for a break and gazed up the route to Summerlin Peak. We searched and searched for our fellow hikers but they were pretty far away. It wasn't until a photo was studied at home that we finally found our only picture of one of the hikers that was standing on this side of the peak. The others were probably beyond view the whole time on the other side of the final ascent.

The only view we saw of our AtBF Summerlin Peak Hikers!
After the hike, Mike OC sent us the summit photo from the peak hike. He reported that all made it down safely without bloodshed!

Hiking toward the Saddle
After our break, we continued around the mountain ridge. The views on this side of Cheyenne Mountain are really beautiful. They are of the northern end of the La Madre Wilderness.

Nearing the Saddle off Route

Snack Break at Saddle
As we were hiking this portion of the loop, four or five runners came sweating by in a group. Nice looking bunch of young men ... well, I digress. Anyway, we reached the other end of the ridge and looked up to see the cave. Once a home to someone; now, a home to cairns. We finished our loop and dropped back down to the trailhead and the cars. This is a nice 4.5 mile loop without a lot of elevation gain. Good for a morning hike with pleasant company.

4.5 miles; 700 feet elevation gain; 2.5 hours

Beautiful View North

Las Vegas Skyline from South end of Cheyenne Ridge

The Cave Above