Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Hidden Peak Loop CW - 11/27/18

Hidden Peak on Approach

Hidden Peak from Southeast

The Escarpment Arch from Rim Trail South

Happy Birthday, Mark
 Nine club members started the hike with a birthday wish to Mark, one of our incredibly fastest and lovable hikers in the club! Happy 75th Mark!
  Hidden Peak is upstaged by Monument Peak in the Sandstone Bluffs of the Red Rock escarpment. Although it is not much shorter than the peak that rises between Sandstone Peak and Black Velvet Peak, Hidden Peak's view is covered by Monument from the east. The western view from atop the escarpment Rim Trail is a different story. The colorful peak is prominently represented to the north of Black Velvet Canyon, the precipitous canyon to the south of Monument Peak.

Hiking out the Beautiful Mountain Springs Horse Trail
Nine hikers arrived at the Mountain Springs Pass Trailhead among the construction for the new SR 160. The workers were busy preparing for blasting the next day.

Starting up the Wash that begins Shallow
 Our plan was to do the normally counter-clockwise loop in a clockwise direction which meant that we would begin by hiking out the Mountain Springs Horse Trail along the back foothills of the escarpment.

Wash becomes Narrow and Steeper

Hiking out of Wash to Ridge
 It was a chilly morning but by beginning the hike this way, we avoided the cold temperatures until the sun had a chance to warm things up. So, we started out the dirt road to the furthest left, passed the empty miniature horse stables (we really miss them), and proceeded up the old abandoned road to the agave roasting pit that we pass the most. (There are many agave roasting pits in the Mountain Springs area.) We hiked above the Mountain Springs and turned up to the horse trail.

Reaching Ridgeline - View of Ridge Climb to Rim Trail
  At this point, unbeknownst to the leader, a few of the back hikers decided to take a wardrobe change break and thus, missed the turn!

View from Ridge Climb
A couple hundred yards later, the front hikers heard yelling. Hmm. Someone else must be hiking around here. Ohhh! That's us! So, we waited for them to bushwhack up to us!

Las Vegas from Rim Trail

Calico Hills from Rim Trail
 We continued our strong speed (2.5 to 3.1 mph) all the way across the foothills until we came to a certain wash crossing where we turned to the east. Never having made this transition in this direction, we were trying to go directly east to catch the ascent wash. Another trail led us astray and soon, we had to check in with the GPS. Yep, we had walked right through the shallow target wash not long before and we had to correct our direction. The shallow wash became deeper and more familiar and we knew we were on our way up.

Approaching the Hidden Peak Trail junction on Rim Trail
 The small narrow wash turned out to be steeper than it feels when you descend it! We kept our speed (around 2.5 mph) taking in the wash easily.

Black Velvet Canyon from Hidden Peak Trail Descent
 We "smelled" the junction before we reached it! Aha! Our cairns that we had placed there four weeks ago were still there and we turned left to climb to the ridge.

Sandstone Peak from Hidden Peak Trail

Hidden Peak from Sandstone Approach
 At the top of the ridge, we rested and saw our next climb up the ridge to the Rim Trail. Up, we went! Phew! Finally, we were on the escarpment rim and the views were absolutely beautiful. ... It was also cold and windy! Oh well, we were pretty warm with our exertion. We turned to the left and began hiking along the rim and soon saw the limestone escarpment arch from the south as seen in the third photo. After circling the intermittent peak, we saw the arch again from the north side. Soon after that, the trail continued by turning to the east and started on a steep descent.

View North from Hidden Peak Overlook
 Here, it seems that this is the continuation of the Rim Trail. But, in fact, this is a spur trail to Hidden Peak. The Rim Trail is less clear and continues down to what continues to be the actual rim of the escarpment.

Seven Hikers climb Peak after Scramble Down to Bridge
 The descent down to the Hidden Peak Overlook is very steep but clear and relatively not exposed to the precipitous Black Velvet Canyon to the south.

Photos from a Lone Hiker (Susan) on the Peak as Seven make the Climb (Deer not on the Peak!)

Climbers arrive on Hidden Peak from Overlook
 We did have to consult the GPS twice to make sure of the direction of the route but had we done a small search, we would probably have found the path. The trail descends down past a bench bridge and around a final small limestone peak to reach a large area of sandstone. There are a few cairns to help with the crossing of the sandstone heading south. Near the south end of this area, there is a descent crack that is used to scramble down to the bridge between the overlook and the peak. From there, the peak climbers simply climb to the peak either basically straight up on a sloped route or by using a ramp that climbs half way up to the north then uses a steeper but shorter climb to the peak.

Eight Hikers on Hidden Peak (MOC behind Lens)
 At the overlook, two hikers stayed back to watch the ascent unfold. It is a beautiful place to spend some time without further work and exposure.

Rita takes in the View on the Overlook
 The climbers proceeded on to use the "straight up" route and arrived at the peak to collect another hiker! Susan had reached the peak just before them and recorded their ascent from that angle as seen a few photos above.

Some Tough Trees on Overlook

Overlook Sandstone
 The climbers returned after they enjoyed a break on Hidden Peak with Susan in tow. Then we tackled the steep "in your face" climb back up to the Rim Trail. A rest was deserved at the Rim Trail junction then we continued down and up past the arch. The climbing wasn't finished as we made our way past the ridge and up to the Mountain Springs Peak area. Temporarily tired of climbing, we chose the traverse trail that passes below the peak then joins the main Mountain Springs Peak Trail on the south side.

Different Views from Overlook
 Now in very familiar territory, we began the descent down to and past the Windy Peak fork. At this point, the descent became relentless!

Mike captured the group returning to Arch.
 The elevation graphs below show the long steep descent that this hike gives you in the end.

Returning along the Rim Trail

Strong Wind on the Rim Trail
 We quickly reached the Heartbreak Hill saddle and proceeded down Heartbreak Hill. It was the end of a great and long hike on the escarpment of Red Rock Canyon NCA. Back in the foothills, the temperatures were warmer and the wind was gone. Fantastic group of strong hikers that are fun to hike with! No complaints and everything is taken in stride (pun) ... and with a dose of humor! For 5 hours.

Hidden Peak: 9 miles; 2200' gain
Hidden Peak Overlook: 8 miles; 2050' gain

Descending Mountain Springs Peak Trail

Almost down to Saddle

Descending Heartbreak Hill

Elevation Graph to Overlook

Elevation Graph to Peak

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