Friday, February 1, 2019

Jean's Peak & Arrowhead Road Loop - 1/31/19

Large Cairn on Jean's Peak Ridge (Bitter Spring Cliffs Beyond)

View from Jean's Peak Ridge

Pinto Valley Wash

Climbing Approach Canyon in Shade
There are incredible views, interesting geology, modern historical features, cultural history and ancient history to be found in the Lake Mead NRA. All of that land is there for the exploration and, today, thirteen hikers dove into the land between Pinto Valley and Northshore Road at mile marker 25 on the outskirts of Bitter Spring Valley. In this vast area of the NRA, "the prominent, discontinuous, pink-tan ridge in the distance is composed of the Bitter Ridge Limestone Member of the Horse Spring Formation. (See first photo.) This relatively young rock unit (deposited about 13 million years ago) is folded, tilted, and faulted proving that major geologic activity took place in this region after that time." ~ 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 73.

Triple Arch
The above-described Bitter Spring Valley dominates the view from the trailhead (Call Box) parking area, however, our hike began by crossing the road and entering the shaded canyon to the west.

Redstone from Ascent
This is a rough canyon filled with sharp limestone boulders and brush but the path of scrambling up the wash was clear enough and a game trail is also offered on the right side. The game trail is inconsistent, at first, so we stayed in the wash until we saw the large triple arch in the canyon wall up to the right.

Jean's Peak Ascent

Climbing up to Large Cairn
Here, we exited the wash and used a gravelly trail to climb up to the arch and hike through. There is a trail that leads out from the arch. It stays up near the canyon wall and aids in reaching the saddle at the top of the canyon. After a short rest, we turned right at the saddle and climbed up and over the first hump then up to the second hump of terrain. A right turn led us up and around a terrain bridge. We could see the large cairn already up on the end of Jean's Peak Ridge. The group climbed up and over to the cairn. This cairn can be seen from the road! At the base of the cairn, there is a jar with a log book and pens inside.

Thirteen Hikers at Jean's Peak Cairn
The peak has become fairly popular, it appears. Our club was the first to place a log book there about four years ago and, now, it is full of signatures. (Must bring new log book next time!)

Hiking along Jean's Peak Ridge
BTW, Jean's Peak and Jean's Canyon are named after a great hiker from Las Vegas. She belonged to the Around the Bend Friends, the Buffet Boys and the Lone Mountain Hiking Club. These were a couple of routes that she enjoyed.

Arriving at Last of Three Peaks

Back at the Saddle facing Descent Canyon
We climbed along the ridge hitting the three peaks that were very similar in elevation. The middle peak is the highest by about 5 or 10 feet. After taking in the amazing views of Redstone, Pinto Valley, Pinto Ridge, and Bitter Spring Valley, we returned to the cairn and descended to the terrain bridge. From there, we retraced our route back to the approach canyon saddle. Next, we turned right to descend the canyon on the other side. This wash is descendable until near the end where it becomes necessary to hop up onto the side trail to the right. Soon, we found ourselves dropping right into Jean's Canyon. A left turn here would loop back to the trailhead with shorter mileage.

Scrambling down the Wash
A right turn led us to the Jean's Canyon high point after a couple of scrambles. At the canyon high point, there are several bear paw poppies and Colorado 4 o'clocks growing in the cryptobiotic soil. Please try to preserve this area by staying in the narrow wash.

Drop into Jean's Canyon
There is a fork in the wash soon. Today, we chose the left fork. Either way works and, not far, the wash started a steepish rocky descent that eventually is interrupted by a dry fall. This dry fall is down-climbable. But, getting past this obstacle takes a little time as newbies learn the drill.

Jean's Canyon

High Point in Jean's Canyon
There is some more descent scrambling before you reach the second dry fall. This one is non-negotiable. The most straight forward way to get around is to take the eroding game trail up to the left, go to the end of the island and make the steep descent here ... most likely on the seat of your pants. If you get more creative, there are at least two other go around possibilities. Be safe. At the bottom of this obstacle, we sat for our break. The most difficult parts of the hike were done and it was time to just walk in the park! We followed the wash down zigzagging around passing flood-made walls until our route opened out and junctioned with the Pinto Valley wash.

Descending from High Point
The Arrowhead Road was also present to the side of the wash. While waiting for the back end of the line, I found a bighorn sheep tick on my hat. (And, later, another on my head.) Another hiker also found two ticks on herself. We were both wearing red ... hmm.

First Dry Fall Scramble
Bighorn sheep ticks in the Las Vegas surrounding areas do not seem to transmit diseases. We sometimes see them on us after hikes in Red Rock Canyon NCA and Lake Mead NRA during the winter and early spring months. (Confession: I'm still freaked out by them, anyway!)

Rocky & Rough

Go Around for Second Dry Fall (Slip & Slide)
We turned left into the wash and began a gentle climb up through beautiful bedrock terrain. The wash zigzags when the Arrowhead Road tends to go straight but, sometimes, the road uses the wash. Although the hike was originally planned to skim the outskirts of the neighboring Redstone, the hike had been a little slow and we decided to take the shorter route back. This route followed the Arrowhead Road. At one point, the road turns up to the left. This junction can be recognized by a worn trail with a blank sign post on the left side of the wash. Following the road from this point will take hikers up sooner than the wash will.

Jean's Canyon Flattens Out
A wiggle left and right starts a road climb up Heartbreak Hill. Compared to the other climbs of the day, it felt short and was a good last hoorah for the old lungs.

Approaching Pinto Valley Wash Junction
The Arrowhead Road leads along and down into a wash. Follow the road until it climbs out of the wash on the right side. (Staying in the wiggly wash works, too.)

Equestrian Prints in Pinto Valley Wash

Pinto Valley Wash
Just as you climb out of the wash, look for a broken cairn on the left. This marks an old vague 2-track road. Follow the 2-track until you see a cairned path leading in a 10 o'clock direction. This path will lead you to a place to climb up to the paved road. The cars are about 1/3 mile up to the left. Remember to have your whole group walk on the left side of the road so that occasional speeding cars are less of a danger. This is a beautiful area and well worth the drive to get to it. Great group today and thanks for all your help.
    Shout out to Chuck H. ... a legend in the Lake Mead NRA! Without him, we might still be out there hiking! ... Hmm, okay. 😀

6 miles; 1350 feet elevation gain; 4.25 hours; average moving speed 1.4 mph

Arrowhead Road heads into the Mud Hills

Heartbreak Hill on Arrowhead Road

2-Track leads out to Northshore Road

1 comment:

Kay Blackwell said...

Kay--Enjoyed your Jean's Peak blog. Maybe you'll get to do the red sandstone wall exit next time. Either way, it was a good hike. Happy Trails! CH