Saturday, September 1, 2018

Old Mill / Lee Meadow Loop - 9/1/18

Old Mill Ruins on Old Mill Trail

Huge Fallen Tree at Anemometer

The Sisters Ridge from Upper Lee Meadow

Crossing Lower Lee Meadow
 Lee Canyon Meadow. There is not another mountain meadow for more than 150 miles in any direction. 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 47.

In all the years that I have been hiking in the Spring Mountains NRA, I have never been in the Lee Meadow! We drive by there every time we hike in Lee Canyon. We see the families playing and picnicking in the meadow. We even see them with their dogs alongside the wild horses. ... It always looks like such fun. So, today, we created a 3.5 mile hike that included ... the meadow!

Starting up Old Mill Trail
 We parked along the road at the Lower Lee Meadow and crossed the grass and shallow wash. We found a trail that gently climbed up into the neighboring Old Mill Picnic Area. This is a fee area so we didn't stop at any of the picnic tables or restrooms.

Visiting the Old Homestead
 The pavement led us up to where the Old Mill Trail veered right off the road. This trail is lined with rocks on either side making it very easy to follow. Soon, we were at the South Sister Trail junction. Some of the seventeen hikers decided to hike up a short way to see the old home foundation there. I presume that this is where the mill owner and his family lived.

Resting at the Old Mill Ruins - Aspens Carved Long Ago

Climbing the Old Mill Trail
 We returned to the trail and continued up. It wasn't long before we came to the ruins of the old mill. Here, there were aspens that had been carved with names a very long time ago. Such names as Caleb and Quinn had grown into the bark. The trail from here up to the Lower Bristlecone Trail was a steeper climb. Then, we turned right on the forest road. At the apex of the following curve, we turned right onto the trail to Pine Cone Canyon. After a little more climbing, we came to the anemometer and campsite where we took our break. (An anemometer is a device used for measuring wind speed, and is a common weather station instrument. The term is derived from the Greek word anemos, which means wind, and is used to describe any wind speed measurement instrument used in meteorology. The first known description of an anemometer given by Leon Battista Alberti in 1450. ~ Wikipedia)
Break Spot at the bottom of Pine Cone Canyon
 We returned to the Lower Bristlecone Trail and hiked down the forest road with views of Mummy Mountain in front of us and South Sister to our left. We continued with a slow pace.

Returning to Lower Bristlecone Trail
 Nearing the gate at the trailhead, we looked down toward Lee Meadow on our left. There was an obvious place where others had descended a steepish hill down to the grass. Several of today's hikers decided this hill was acceptable and down they went. The remaining hikers went down just past the gate and descended to the meadow from there on a more gentle slope.

Ease on Down, Ease on Down the Trail

South Sister - Aspens beginning to Yellow
 We met at the bottom of the slopes and the group spread out. It was fun being in the meadow! My best analogy (being a professional dancer in a previous life), was that it felt like we were on a stage. Wide space with stadium seating all around! ... and, no horses. Anyway, it was fun to walk through from the Upper Meadow to the Lower Meadow. There were a few families on the outskirts of the meadow in the shade. We walked down the horse path then headed through the trees back to the cars. Nice new route, a keeper. Maybe next time there will be horses. We can only hope. (Do they have Saturdays off?)

3.5 miles; 600 feet elevation gain; 2.25 hours

The Steep Route down to Lee Meadow

Flower Field at the Meadow

Returning to Cars at Lower Lee Meadow

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