Thursday, September 20, 2018

5 Mile Campsite - Autumn Photo Essay - 9/20/18

North Loop to Charleston Peak

North Loop leaving Cave Spring

Trail Canyon Trail

Leaving the Trail Canyon Trailhead

Panorama from North Loop above Trail Canyon Saddle


Heading to Cave Spring
 Every year, one of the best hikes during the change of the season from summer to fall is the North Loop up from Trail Canyon. There is a very large grove of aspens around 2.75 miles from the trailhead; beginning just after Cave Spring. Of course there are many aspens that spread out over the entire hike up that accentuate the beauty of the surrounding limestone / dolomite mountains. Today, nine hikers started at Trail Canyon and hiked 5 miles up to a large campsite that is often used by backpackers choosing to do Charleston Peak in two days.

Almost to Cave Spring

Washing Sticks at Cave Spring (... it's a thing!)

Aspen Lined North Loop

Switchback within Aspens

Color near Wall Corner

Nine Hikers

Fall Color in Kyle Canyon (both sides!)
 This was a particularly strong gathering of club members and I believe there was a race from the trailhead to the Trail Canyon saddle! I did not ... er ... could not participate! However, by the time I reached the saddle, I believe the group had rested up and wanted to enjoy the color that was to come. We settled into a "normal" pace and we hiked up the mountain; stopping for photos often. Just wanted to say, our entire hike time of 5 hours was the same as last year's time and 1/2 hour less than the year before. Just sayin' kiddos.

Setsuko at 4.25 Mile Cliff Overlook


Charleston Peak from Big Falls Overlook

5 Mile Campsite Lee Canyon Overlook

Enjoying a Break at 5 Mile Campsite

Returning to Roots Corner

Nearing Mummy Junction
 We made it to the campsite and took our break. Soon, we started down. The trip down took less time but a few more photos still had to be taken. When we reached the Trail Canyon saddle, I couldn't hold them back any longer! The downhill race was on! Hey, it's all good. Just take care of yourselves, kids. It was an absolutely gorgeous day in the mountains at the peak of the autumn color. What's not to like? Love you guys!

10 miles; 3000 feet elevation gain; 5 hours

Mummy Scree Field in Distance

Return down Aspen Lined Switchbacks

Heading back to Cave Spring

Unbelievable Color Display

Arrival at Cave Spring ... again

Hiking down Trail Canyon

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Black & White Sisters - 9/18/18

Archive Photo of Black & White Sisters (2015)

Black Sister as seen from the Ascent

Tough Ascent Wash (Keep Smiling!)
 Eleven hikers drove out Macks Canyon Road to the Sisters Spur Road and parked. (Must remember to start up the road until you reach the correct wash!) At the trail marker placed at a wash junction next to a ponderosa, we turned to the left to hike up a pine cone filled wash. Although this wash is not as steep as the final climb, it is a tough climb. We turned to the right onto a vague trail that follows the approach ridge. Take note of the landmark tree at the end of the ridge before you start the final very steep climb up to the ridge above. Then go and meet Black Sister; White Sister is a small rise next to her. For a more detailed description of the hike, see one of the previous blogs on this site. Great people!

4 miles; 1650 feet elevation gain; 2.5 hours

Hiking the Approach Ridge

At the base of Black Sister

Hikers on Black Sister with a View

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Kyle Canyon Escarpment Loop - 9/15/18

Charleston Peak view from atop the Kyle Canyon Escarpment

View from Escarpment to Resort

Rabbitbrush in Full Bloom

Arriving at the Spring Mountains Gateway Visitor Center
The Spring Mountains Gateway Visitor Center opened in the spring of 2015. At that time, the park service handed out a map of trails. Some of these trails were new to us and the Escarpment Trail was one of them. Looking back at the first time we hiked this trail, it was clear that everything was fresh and new. The landscaping was clean and trimmed behind the visitor center. Now, after an especially monsoon-filled summer, there are several washouts that will have to be repaired. Also, we found a couple of places where the bushes needed trimming along the old golf cart path.

Descent into Kyle Canyon
These places in disrepair didn't bother us but since this is the "gateway" to visitors and tourists from afar, it would probably behoove the park to clean up its act! In their defense, they are already doing a lot of roadwork along the park's paved roads to clean up the mess that the summer storms left us.

Crossing the Kyle Wash
So, twelve hikers hiked through the visitor center amphitheater and on out to the red gravel trail that led down into Kyle Canyon. On the way, a few of us tried the amazing acoustics of the Greek-style theater.

A Junction on the Old Cart Paths

Starting up the Dirt Trail on the Top End of the Escarpment
The Kyle Wash crossing (the active channel of Kyle Creek), at the bottom of the hill, has been washed out for a couple of years. A nice bridge here would give the park a good look. Then there is a circle trail and tree garden laying in what used to be a large golf course pond. This area is so overgrown that you can no longer see the circle. That would be okay except that there are also no signs so guess work is involved for anyone who is not familiar with the trail layout. We know the trail well by now so we knew to turn to the left and then take the next left as well on the red gravel. This put us on one of the asphalt cart paths that climb steeply up the hill.

Zigzagging our Way on Top of the Escarpment
About half way up this paved hill, there is a turn to the left. This is another part of the old golf course. But, the advantage now is that it breaks up the steep climb. It comes out at the original cart path a little higher than where we left it. (See tracks below.)

Harris Peak through Mountain Mahogany
A little more climbing and we came to a right turn onto a dirt trail. There is a post trail sign here that indicates that this is the Escarpment Trail.

Taking our Break at the Bottom End of the Escarpment

View Down Kyle Canyon
We made the right turn and continued climbing up around the top end of the escarpment.

This "escarpment" is made of cemented Kyle Canyon gravel from the canyon's alluvial fan. The cliffs were formed during mudflows of the Pleistocene Epoch or Ice Age. The Bird Spring Formation lies beneath the debris of the mudflows. Older deposits of "Kyle Creek" are heavily cemented with calcium carbonate derived from the limestone rocks forming the bulk of the Spring Mountains. The resulting deposit, called calcrete, is similar to caliche but is formed in the presence of more moisture, such as the bottom of streambeds and lakes that cyclically fill and evaporate. These erosional remnants are held up by cemented, gravel-rich layers that are more resistant to erosion than the sediments that underlie them.*  Geologic Tours in the Las Vegas Area (Expanded Edition with GPS Coordinates), Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Special Publication 16, University of Nevada, Reno, Mackay School of Earth Sciences, 2008, Bear Printing, Sparks, NV; pages 38-39.

Circling around the Bottom End of the Escarpment
One reason that the creeks in the Spring Mountains flow so infrequently is that the limestone and dolomite that compose most of the range are highly fractured and contain numerous cavities formed due to dissolution (dissolving) of the limestone. Hence, most of the drainage is in the subsurface through these interconnected cavities.*  Geologic Tours in the Las Vegas Area (Expanded Edition with GPS Coordinates), Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Special Publication 16, University of Nevada, Reno, Mackay School of Earth Sciences, 2008, Bear Printing, Sparks, NV; page 40.

The Scope
Interesting fact: This relatively open area marks the intersection of at least three faults. The La Madre fault (or Fletcher Canyon) runs all the way down to White Rock Springs in the Red Rock Canyon NCA scenic loop.*  Geologic Tours in the Las Vegas Area (Expanded Edition with GPS Coordinates), Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Special Publication 16, University of Nevada, Reno, Mackay School of Earth Sciences, 2008, Bear Printing, Sparks, NV; page 42.
Hiking next to the Escarpment Wall

Following the Path
Our hike took us to the bottom end of the escarpment where we took our break. From there, the trail descended off of the rock shelf and around to the scope set up to peer through and see the upper elevations, including the top secret 1955 airplane crash site near the peak of Charleston. We continued around and descended that same steep cart path that we had come up; crossed the floor of Kyle Canyon; then, climbed back up to the Visitor Center. It was a beautiful morning and we were sheltered from most of the gusty wind.

4 miles; 700 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Steep Descent on Old Cart Path

Kyle Canyon Floor full of Rabbitbrush

The Greek-style Amphitheater