Saturday, February 23, 2019

Blue Diamond Bike Trails - 2/23/19

Sandstone Boulders

Bird Spring Range

Getting There

Hiking out of Blue Diamond
 Two days ago, Las Vegas and the surrounding mountains ... yes, all of them ... received a lot of snow. This was a very unusual event and went down in the history books. Although a lot of the snow had melted by this morning, there was still enough to make things extremely pretty. It will be gone soon but, today, fourteen hikers were able to experience it first hand before that happens. We parked at the Blue Diamond Trailhead located just across the bridge on the right side of the road as you begin to enter the small community. We walked over to the restrooms at the ball field and saw the volunteer fire department checking their hoses. We circled around them and headed up to the upper trailhead area where the occupants of one house had built six snowmen on their landscape wall. The snowmen were wearing bike helmets!

Old Spanish Trail Marker
 Finding the trail to be clear of snow and muddy at times, we crossed the wash and started up the hill.

Burros found on the South Side
 As always, we took the newbies up to see the Old Spanish Trail Marker when we came to it. It is on the hill to the right.

View of Mt. Potosi and Cottonwood Valley

Starting the Long Climb
 Reaching the south side of the area not far from SR 160, a lot of the snow had melted away. Two of our hikers pointed out burros to our right. One burro was a baby. So cute! Continuing up and over a little hill, we were rewarded a gorgeous view of Cottonwood Valley and Mt. Potosi beyond. On the other side of the little hill, we turned right onto the Hurl Trail. This is where the long climb seen on the elevation graphs below, begins. The climb is a little disconcerting to some hikers and many times, participants would like to stop for a long break about half way up. There isn't a great place to stop and sit because of all the sharp limestone strewn about.

Mt. Potosi from Trail
 Regardless, today's group managed to make it all the way to the top of the climb before sitting down. We were 3.4 miles into the hike. Our perseverance was rewarded with an amazing view!

First Peek of Red Rock Escarpment
 A decision was made to sit among the ... sharp limestone ... near where the Hurl Backdoor Trail junctioned with the Hurl. (I didn't name these trails.)

Having fun on a Muddy Trail

Rabbit Snow Tracks
 So, why didn't we go down to the sandstone boulders? Well, the hillside where the boulders sit was covered with snow. It really wasn't a good place to climb up to the top of the sandstone to have a "soft" seat. And, the preferred alternative of the Rocky Ridge Overlook seems to be just too far for a moderate group of hikers. Anyway, we sat for our break, looked at the view then continued down past the sandstone boulders and the Rocky Ridge Overlook and turned to see the canyon descent. This small canyon has a trail on both the north side of the canyon and the south side. Of course, the south side (facing north) was still covered in snow and the north side (facing south) was bare.

Still Climbing
We had already planned to take the south side trail so we looked and saw that the dirt line continued here as far as we could see. We also saw that the furthest points of the trail were still in shade. Hmm.

Snack Spot View
 So, we followed the dirt line through the amazingly beautiful landscape.

Taking our Break

La Madre Range beyond the Rock Ridge Overlook
 Finally, we neared that shady part. The snow still covered the trail here but a couple of bikers and hikers had already marked where the trail was located. It was just a matter of following the trail in the snow. Very carefully, we hiked up and down little hills in the snow for around 25 yards. There were no mishaps! And, before we had to descend back to the canyon / valley floor, the dirt line resumed. We junctioned with other trails in the area of the first Old Spanish Trail marker and turned left. A fork to the right sent us on our way straight down to the Blue Diamond area.

Descending to the South Side of the Canyon
 On our way, we saw tracks in the snow of, perhaps, a baby burro and some kind of smallish cat.

South Side Snow - North Side No Snow
 We also saw coyote prints and jack rabbit prints. The latter's trail headed into a burrow under a rock.

Hiking the Dirt Line

Until ...
 When the trail that steeply crosses the wash appeared, we dipped down and saw that the wash had been dug out by a recent flood. Then, a running start got us up the other side's embankment. As we hiked through the streets of Blue Diamond to return to our cars, there were people in cars watching us (as there were on the way out). Not sure what the Blue Diamondnites think we are going to do to their town but they do keep an eye on things. Must say, it doesn't feel very welcoming. Fun day and everyone seemed to enjoy the morning.

6 miles; 950 feet elevation gain; 3 hours; average moving speed 1.9 mph

Slowly, we made it!

The Dirt Line Returns

Returning to Blue Diamond

1 comment:

Kay Blackwell said...

Epic photos today Kay! I recently worked on the Blue Diamond Trailhead of the Santa Fe Trail. First time I’ve ever been on it. Some day I’m going to continue it all the way to 160 and maybe beyond. Tomorrow I’m hiking with a friend to check out the skeleton in the car from the Cliff Shadows area. Happy you got the pic of the snowmen, the burros and the once in a decade photo of beautiful snow scenes!

Susan M.