Friday, May 11, 2018

No Name Loop CW - 5/10/18

North Ridge from Bristlecone/Bonanza Junction

Aspens on Upper Bristlecone

Male Williamson's Sapsucker Woodpecker

Lee Peak above Ski Slopes
The snow is almost gone ... already. Most of what's left in Lee Canyon is seen in the photos of this blog. Six hikers drove up Lee Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains NRA all the way to the end, the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead. It was an absolutely gorgeous day! There weren't many people around when we started but we did see some hikers when we were on our way back. The group was strong so pace was not a concern, however, we did take it easy on our ascent since a couple of us have not been up in elevation yet this spring. We were greeted near the trailhead by wild horses, one was a baby just a few days old. The morning light showed through the aspens as we climbed the first mile.

No. We didn't see any unexploded ordinances! But, be on the lookout anyway and report if you find any.

Hiking Upper Bristlecone through Aspens
We had the trail to ourselves as we hiked up to the junction with No Name Trail. This trail was formerly the official Bristlecone Trail until it was abandoned for the present day one. Both trails are beautifully filled with bristlecones.

Starting up No Name Trail

Among the Bristlecones
We turned left at the junction. Logs and such have been placed here to deter the inexperienced hikers. If you are new to this area, it is best if you stay on the well worn Bristlecone Trail. The No Name Trail can be difficult to follow for the first couple of times. Basically, it leads over to a wash that climbs the hill to the right. The trail is steep and has a few small switchbacks. The climb ends at the No Name Saddle where a little knoll tops out to the right at around 9750 elevation feet. We took an enjoyable rest here with the views and after a visit to the huge old bristlecone snag up on the hill a little further, we continued out the trail.

An Old Friend in a High Place
The next section of trail is a favorite. It travels through shading old bristlecones of various sizes. There are views below of upper Clark Canyon and views back of Lee and Charleston Peaks.

Through an old Bristlecone Grove
Wild horses have been seen in this area but they rarely come up this high. We hiked at a good pace on the pleasant trail as we hit the high point of around 9790 feet.

Particularly Large Bristlecone near Trail

A Peek back at Charleston Peak
Back down to around 9780 feet, we junctioned with the Bonanza Trail. Again there are logs and such at the junction to try to keep inexperienced hikers on the right track. There is a wilderness sign here and big logs. If you turn to the left, you reach several trail steps following the Bonanza Trail that takes you along the Spring Mountain Divide passing McFarland and Bonanza Peaks. Eventually, 13 miles later, you descend into the Cold Creek Bonanza Trailhead. ... We turned to the right! About half a mile of longish switchbacks down brought us to the junction with the Bristlecone Trail, 2 miles up from the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead. (And, 3 miles from the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead.)

Very little Snow left at top of Bonanza Switchbacks
Along the beginning of the descent, we passed about 3 or 4 small snow patches. Nothing really. One spring, club hikers ran into a full hillside of snow here. Quite fun descent!

Switchback on Bonanza Trail
At the junction, we paused and took in the views again. There is a wide view from Mummy Mountain to Charleston Peak here from the old forest road.

South Sister watches Over

The Bristlecone Trail
We turned right onto the upper Bristlecone Trail and followed the forest road until it changed to a single track trail. The next section of the trail is full of bristlecones, limestone and views. Another favorite. To our left, we had several large views of South Sister. It appeared to have no snow on it at all. Clear for hiking! We passed several other hikers and everyone agreed that it was a beautiful day to be in the mountains. Our pace quickened ... just because we could. Conversation waned (like the moon) as we concentrated on our footing.

Mummy Mountain from the Bristlecone Trail
The trail passed the switchback corner where there is an open view of South Sister and campgrounds below.

Trail through the Trees
When we were about half way down to the No Name junction, we had to duck under a newly fallen tree. It appeared that the chainsaws had already made their way through the trail so this tree might be there a while.

Upper Bristlecone Trail

Lee Peak from Trail
Otherwise, the trail was clean of debris. We passed the No Name junction and entered into the aspens. The pace picked up as we enjoyed the last mile. On a whim, we turned down into the ski resort area to detour through. (Hoping to get a better view of that little baby horse!) We were politely reprimanded though as the manager came out to greet us. We promised not to do it again and were informed that the summer fun at the ski resort opens on May 25th. A last "3rd class climb" over the road gate put us back at the cars! A great morning! The weather doesn't get any better than it was today!

5.75 miles; 1200 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Tunneling back to Trailhead

A Side Trip into the Ski Area

Yep! It's Closed!

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