Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Showgirl Trail (Original) - Top to Bottom - 9/24/18

Lower Showgirl Trail 

La Madre Range from Top of The Dive

Autumn Color on Mummy Mountain (near Juniper TH)

Starting Fresh on Upper Showgirl
 In the spring of 2015, the National Forest Service opened the Spring Mountains Gateway Visitor Center. With that opening, they gave out a map of trails, some of which were low elevation trails that we were not familiar with. One of those trails was the Showgirl Trail. The brown line ran from a new trailhead, called the Juniper Trailhead, 9 miles down to a new trailhead (complete with highway tunnel by-thru) that they didn't name and still does not have a sign. We call it the Lower Showgirl Trailhead. This trailhead is located just inside the Carpenter One fire boundary but they have removed the sign asking hikers and bikers to not park there. For a while, we parked on the roadside but it is safer to park just up the short trailhead road away from the busy Kyle Canyon Road. This trailhead is located 14 miles up from Highway 95 on the left (south) side. Now, only the sign that warns of the burn area still remains at the trailhead entrance. Thank you Forest Service.

Shaded Trail

First Left Turn Junction

Hiking "around" Angel Peak Views

Beginning of Gentle Descent
 Today, getting to the Juniper Trailhead for seven hikers was a test of patience. After dropping off one car at the Lower Showgirl TH, we waited approximately 15 minutes at the Kyle/Deer Creek junction for road work crews the allow us to turn right. Thankfully, all this work was wrapped up before we had to shuttle cars at the end of the hike. We turned right near the top of the hill (Hilltop Campground), veered to the right again, then arrived at today's trailhead around 9:00am. There was no grumbling. We all had planned for a long day anyway. It would be a warm day but it would also be a slightly breezy day. Cool breezes! Lucious cool breezes! After preparations, we started down the Upper Showgirl Trail.

Harris Peak view from Gentle Descent

Hiking into a Wooded Wash Area

Small Cliff with Telephone Canyon Overlook

Harris Peak View from Gentle Descent
 The brown line on that map showed that the Showgirl Trail headed straight over the ridge line and down the end of the ridge. While exploring this new trail, we found that the trail, while new and gorgeously among the trees, had no finish that we could find! Somewhere, we were missing the final descent to the middle portion of the trail. Apparently, this was a common complaint and the Forest Service simply removed the trail from the maps ... instead of improving the trail or making signs. Over the next 2 years, we simply used known trails (like the Trough Trail and Tin Can Alley) to get ourselves from the ridge line, down the side of the mountain and around to the junction point that we were expecting. (See previous Showgirl Trail and Missing Link blogs for further explanation.)

Arriving at Little Bald Knoll (Top of Steeper Descent)

View down into Angel Canyon Narrows

Nearing The Dive

Full Concentration during The Dive
 During the past year, the bikers have solved the problem of the Missing Link by making the last steep descent clear. We call it The Dive! It is very steep and somewhat slippery but still negotiable for us mere hikers .... Also, very steep and adrenaline rushy for brave bikers! At any rate, the more experienced hikers and bikers take it in stride ... (pun). After working our way down the ridge line and over Little Bald Knoll, we carefully and slowly hiked down The Dive ending at the trail that Google Earth now names the Showgirl Trail. So, what is the name of the trail that we came down on? I call it the Original Showgirl Trail! We turned to the left on the Showgirl Trail and soon found some shade and low lying logs to sit on for a break. We were 5 miles into the hike and still comfortable.

Autumn Color in Kyle Canyon (Harris [L] & Griffith [R] Peaks)

John works his way down The Dive.

Taking a Break in the Shade after The Dive

Middle Showgirl Trail on Trailing Ridge
 At the junction, we had entered the Middle Showgirl Trail. This part of the trail zigzags down a small trailing ridge that extends between Angel Canyon and Telephone Canyon. Finally, we dropped into the Angel Canyon side and began crossing its mouth wash. Hmmm. Mouthwash? Anyway, the trail circles around the following ridge and runs alongside the wash on the north side of Kyle Canyon Road that is created by Angel Canyon and Telephone Canyon both. Eventually, Showgirl climbs out of the wash and into a somewhat higher elevation that takes you along a winding route in and out of ravines and arroyos. Even though this seems like a circuitous way to get from point A to point B, the scenery is beautiful in an Upper Sonoran Desert terrain sort of way and provides a lot of hiking, if that's what you came for. I would think that it would be a good trail running trail as well.

Circling around the Ridge Corner

Hiking the Lower Showgirl Trail

One of Several Large Groupings of Joshua Trees

Pain Alleviated!
 Around the 6 mile mark or the 6000 foot elevations, Joshua Trees begin appearing more and more. The interesting thing about this is that several of them grow in large clumps here. After they show up, we crossed the Wooden Pole Powerline Road, a forest road that comes from the BLM fire station site and runs atop a ridge leading to Angel Peak. Having hiked that road one time, I can attest to the fact that it is a terrible road for hiking; very rocky and steep in some sections. (You could use it to climb Angel Peak only if you are into masochism.) After the road, the clumps of Joshua Trees begin appearing more often. In fact, there is one wall of Joshuas along the trail here.

Crossing the Wooden Pole Powerline Forest Road

Group Photo at the Wall of Joshuas

Charleston Peak from Lower Showgirl Trail

View down Kyle Canyon just before Last Drop
 We continued a few more zigzags as we neared the 8th mile marker. Next, we were starting a drop into a wash that provided a different surrounding. The trail doesn't stay in the wash long before we rounded a corner and saw Kyle Canyon Road. A hike under the bridge put us on the other side. We circled around to the road again where our shuttle car was parked. This was a great hike with great hikers that enjoyed their day! That's it for another year! God willing.

9 miles; +400 feet elevation gain; -2650 feet elevation loss; 4.5 hours

Still Hiking Strong!

Presenting our Next Club President, John!

The Tunnel at Lower Showgirl Trailhead (Graffiti Photoshopped Out)

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