Friday, January 4, 2019

Cheyenne Mountain Peak & Base Loop - 1/3/19

Lone Mountain and Gass Peak from Cheyenne Peak Saddle

Taking a Breather just below the Peak

Summerlin Peak from Cheyenne Peak

Crossing over to the Trailhead from Gilmore Cliff Shadows Park
After 3 days of cold blustery weather to go through the New Year holidays, we finally caught a break! Fifteen hikers showed up for the Cheyenne Mountain Peak hike and decided to extend the loop on the descent. This is a hike that has not been well attended in the past for whatever reason so many of today's fifteen hikers were newbies to the route. The first 3/4 of a mile with 900 feet of gain made some of the hikers jovially question their decision! We started at the Gilmore Cliff Shadows Park on the west side of CC-215 (western terminus of Alexander Road) and crossed down toward the mountain with the flag on the peak's slope.

Lone Mountain from Ascent
We hiked on the trail around the base of the mountain to the right for just a few yards passing the traditional trail up. There is a second trail a few yards away that offers a lot more sticky limestone slab for climbing.

Strong Hikers
We began climbing in a line but soon began choosing our own routes up the limestone still together. There were a couple of breathers before the saddle but the stronger hikers blew right through that saddle area!

Climbing up from the Saddle

View along the Ridge from Ascent
I stayed back to take a couple of photos. Lone Mountain looks especially nice from the saddle as seen in the first photo of this entry. I needed a few more breathers before reaching the large beautiful American flag rising from a strong staff a few yards below the peak. Some of us enjoyed photos of the flag here then climbed on up to the peak where everyone was taking a rest. Unfortunately, the peak area is covered with ugly graffiti that I was barely able to correct with Photoshop in the third photo panorama above. Otherwise, the views of Summerlin Peak and the Red Rock escarpment are very nice.

A Few of Many Fossils
Also found on and around the peak are numerous seabed fossils. This trip, we found gastropod (snail) fossils as well as the regular corals, shells and sponges.

View from Flag
After a small break to write in the new log book and drink some water, we started hiking along the ridge rim to the north. This is somewhat of a knife-edge with cliffs on the west side and a very steep slope on the east side.

Fifteen on Cheyenne Mountain Peak

From Peak to Flag to Las Vegas
The balance is safe enough if you are careful and don't have exposure issues! Otherwise, the steep slope on the east provides a few safer alternatives until you reach a couple of scrambles. Both of these scrambles are "knife-edge" but the first is more palatable than the second. Both are necessary to complete the ridge rim and all the hikers took it in stride like experienced pros. As we climbed up and over one last rocky tor, we dropped down the ridge to another tor that had an obscure trail descending down to the west before it. This is the exit route! We followed the trail down past a cave that was outfitted with rock enclosure and wind chimes. Great place to get in out of the wind!

Hiking along the Sharp Ridge
We zigzagged down the trail until we came to the junction of the Cheyenne Mountain Base Trail. There were no signs here so we had to guess that this was the correct trail.

Circling around to the Secondary Peak
Careful here! There is a zigzag up soon that keeps you on the proper trail. We missed it but regained our direction quickly.

Group before Scrambling Ensues

First Knife Edge Scramble
As we took a breather at the land bridge junction, we were looking for other hikers or bikers in the area since this is a wide view. The ridge across from us to the northwest seemed to have something we sensed. Yes! Mike saw them first! Two bighorns about 0.4 miles away from us on the very tip-top of the highest peak of that ridge were standing lookout. One faced south and one faced north. They were very intense and did not seem to see us ... or maybe ... care about us so far away. I zoomed in for photos using Rita's offered shoulders as a tripod. They were very healthy females. Perhaps in a stage of pregnancy! Time to start painting the baby's room!

View Back
We continued our way around the mountain on the base loop and passed two hikers, the only other hikers we passed. The acreage between Cheyenne Mountain and Summerlin is beautiful and wild. (Except for the maze of bike trails.)

Second Knife Edge Scramble
But, the housing being built between here and Little Red Rock is well on its way to spoiling the overall view. ... And, making us wish we could afford a house there on the outer edges with a killer view!

View Back

Descent past the Cave
When we turned the corner of Cheyenne Mountain to head back around past the Buckskin Cliff Shadows Park, we could see a nice view of Las Vegas in the mountain V. But, today's view was unusually very smoggy. The trail passes this park then runs alongside several office buildings. Still on the base of the mountain, we could look to the left and see nature. It was nice to have added the loop trail to today's peak hike to log some extra mileage. Great hike on a cool day!

4.5 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; 3 hours; Moving time 2.25 hours; Average speed 1.4 mph

Junction with the Cheyenne Mountain Base Loop

Bighorn Lookouts about 0.4 miles Away

Circling around Cheyenne Mountain on Base Loop

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