Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fletcher Canyon (In the Rain) - 5/30/09

"Neither rain, snow, sleet or hail can deter the Around the Bend Friends Hiking Club from accomplishing their mission." The quote is from Chris after a very cold soaking morning in Fletcher Canyon.

-seven hikers started out on a hike to the canyon and the weather seemed like it would hold up for a while. We got about halfway to Obstacle Rock and the rain started with pea-sized hail and a steady sprinkle. When the thunder began rumbling through the surrounding mountains, most of the hikers decided to turn back to the safety and dryness of the cars. Five hikers that had come prepared with rain gear continued on, anxious to see the beautiful slot canyon under different conditions.

A surprised hiker peers out from under his trusty unbrella showing some of the hail that had been falling.

The five of us that continued up to Obstacle Rock were treated to beautiful colors in the limestone walls, shiny rain-soaked rocks strewn about and a small amount of water in the wash. The plant life in the canyon was an emerald green as they basked in the nutrient filled raindrops.

When we made it to Obstacle Rock, we were rewarded with this scene of water coming down the rock trough amid waterlogged canyon walls. The rain let up for a few minutes after we started our hike out. The thunder was still rumbling but we rarely saw any flashes of lightening. It sounded like the thunder was about 4 miles away. The hail started again with an increased fury and we increased our speed. Approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile from the parking lot, a downpour ensued. The five of us began half running and half race-walking to the finish line. This blogger's hands and fingers were frozen as the gloves hung off the back of her pack. Finally, we reached the cars where we practically threw ourselves inside! Another magnificent hike in the Spring Mountains!

The hike to Obstacle Rock in Fletcher Canyon and back is about 3.8 miles with a minimal 500-600 feet of elevation gain.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rainbow Loop - 5/28/09

Today's hike was named Rainbow Loop. The trail, which was made piecemeal by several different paths led around the small mountain community of Rainbow at the foot of Mt. Charleston. There were 12 hikers.

We started out from the Fletcher Canyon Trail parking area and walked up the road to the Visitor Center for a pit stop. From there, we hiked through the lower portion of the Fletcher Campground staying parallel to the highway. Leaving the campground, we continued up the drainage to find the Rainbow community after about a mile of hiking. Continuing straight, we followed a path which eventually turned to the left and went uphill. It was on this rather steep part of the trail that we found this small shelter made by logs and sticks situated in the aspen trees.

This part of the trail isn't maintained so, at one point, Rick did his weight-lifting routine and made way for a few women hikers. Such a gentleman! We finally junctioned with the South Loop Trail which, if followed to its end, leads to the summit of Mt. Charleston, itself. We followed it for less than a mile. This brought us almost to the halfway point where we sat for a break and a snack. While we were snacking, a ranger came by with her dog and we talked about the cutting of trees that they were doing in the area for fire prevention.

One more turn to the left off of the South Loop brought us to the highpoint of our hike and a turn to the right put us on a small wooded path leading down. This was a favorite part of the hike since it was shaded and had soft earth to walk on. There were small wildflowers placed here and there for the short mile we hiked on the path.

The small trail ended at a dirt road which wound among small summer log cabins. We hiked down the road through large ponderosa pines, passed around a road gate and hit a road of asphalt surrounded by larger year-round homes. This was the upper portion of Rainbow. We hiked down the Rainbow road passing by beautiful mountain real estate and came to the spot where we had started the loop portion of the hike. From there, we hiked back to the campground, through the campground, back to the Visitor's Center, and down the road to our cars.

The hike was around 5.7 miles with an elevation gain of around 1100-1200 feet. It was a very pleasant hike. Although there were black clouds above, we did not experience the rain that came down a few miles up Kyle Canyon from where we were.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stanley B - 5/23/08

Twenty-six members of the Around the Bend Friends hikers met at our summer parking location for the first time this year and were very excited about starting the Mt. Charleston phase of our year. Today's hike took us up to an old lead mine above the Rainbow community which lies below Mt. Charleston.

We were delighted when we stepped out of the car and the cool fresh air hit us. Smiles were all around as we began climbing the trail which lead up through a fairly steep wash to begin. After about half a mile, the wash turned into an easier trail which climbed past beautiful views of the still snowy Spring Mtn. range.

Near the end of the climb, a small stream appeared to our left. It flows from the spring inside the old mine. Soon, we were climbing steeply up through the middle of the small stream to get to the entrance of the mine where we sat for a few minutes to rest and snack.

While we sat, a few hikers went up to view the second mine entrance which is located up a steep embankment covered with a lot of very loose rock and dirt. There is also a small path which leads up the hill on the left of the claim sign which provides a nice view. Some hikers explored and others just enjoyed the scenery.

Our hike coordinator, Ed, gathered us together again and we began the seemingly short hike back to the cars. On the way down, we took the trail all the way. Then, we were left with a short walk down the road to the parking lot where we started the hike. The total distance of the hike was around 2.5 miles with only 600 feet of elevation gain.

Below, you will find a map of the hike placed on the topography provided by Google Earth. There are a couple wayward satellite bounces of the GPS waypoints. One was at the beginning of the hike and one was at the mine area.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Phantom Ranch Excursion - May 10-12, 2009

Mac would like to inform the Around the Bend Friends that the 18 people who participated in this event did hike down the Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch and yes all 18 hiked out on the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim.

On Sunday, Mother's Day, we all hiked down the Kaibab Trail, seen in the second picture, going from an elevation of 7260 feet to 2480 feet in over 7 miles. The hike was not easy on our knees, but we all got there. We stayed two nights at Phantom Ranch, the food was very good. On Monday, most of us took it easy and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings. On Tuesday we started the hike up on the Bright Angel Trail going up 10 miles and an elevation gain of 4400 feet. The first 5 miles to Indian Gardens were reasonable and the views were breath taking. The next 5 miles were brutal particularly the last 3 miles. AT THE END OF THE DAY, ALL 18 OF US REACHED THE TOP SAFE AND SOUND.

Congratulations to all who participated for conquering the Grand Canyon. I would like to thank them for being so cooperative and helpful in making this event so pleasant. Special thanks to Chris D. for always being there to help and guide. Hopefully this will become an annual event. Any volunteer for next year????

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Calico Tanks - 5/9/09

Today, thirteen hikers set out for a hot hike up to the main Calico tank.

On the way, someone had built a major cairn on the side of the trail. As people passed, rocks were added.

There was no water on the trail as we trudged through sand and climbed sandy rocks. Steps that had been built years ago, made the going easier.

Above, you see some of the club members negotiating the log apparatus. Trust me! There is a log under their feet!

There were flowers around. Among them, there was the desert sage which you can see to the left. Other flowers which are blooming at this time are desert marigolds, penstemons, globemallow and prickly pear cactus.

The main tank is extremely low on water. (How low is it?) The water is so low in the main tank that you can hike right through the hole to arrive at the other side for snacks and views without getting your feet wet.

The hike is only about 2.5 miles with little elevation gain.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Welcome Back ! - 5/6/09

Welcome back to a refreshed Around the Bend Friends Hiking Club website. We have not deleted any of the original website; however, we have created a new site that begins with the blogs of this year. The website at which you have arrived is the new site. Looks the same, huh? Only the archives are different.

I apologize if we have eliminated your favorite picture or hike from the new site. It is likely that some of these pictures and hikes will reappear at appropriate times. Please continue to make comments. This website now belongs to all the members of the ABF hiking club as monitored by John and Kay. That's something to celebrate!

Please take time over a cup of coffee to review the blogs that have been posted during the last few months while the website was offline. Not all the hikes were covered but many were. Hopefully, you will enjoy walking through some of the hikes again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gray Cap - 5/05/09

This blogger's first ascent to Gray Cap Peak was nothing if it wasn't fast! Hiking on Marathon Tuesday is a necessity if one wants to do some of the most difficult hikes.

Fourteen hikers left from Sandstone Quarry with an early start. We hiked up the wash from the main Calico Tanks trail that leads around the Calico Hills and down to Gateway Canyon. Turning left, we hiked a beautiful limestone, dry waterfall filled Gateway Canyon which circled around to the right as we climbed.

When all that was left of the canyon were rock-filled washes, the limestone turned into a colorful display of red, white and yellow sandstone. We continued up the wash to the right reaching the top of the drainage. The drainage on the other side of the hill led down to Gateway Canyon and the "saddle" that crosses over to Krafft Mtn. But, we took off up the side of the steep hill to the left using the rippled sandstone as stair-steps.

At the top of this initial sandstone climb, we found a plateau of sandstone that we crossed over. Although I did not see them, some of the more experienced hikers said there were tanks in the area. Then we began climbing again. The sandstone climbs were very steep and sometimes involved loose rock. The speed of the hike was breakneck ... maybe a bad choice of word.

The final climb to the peak was laid in limestone as Gray Cap is so named because of a "cap" of limestone on top of a mountain of sandstone. The peak, itself, is not particularly photogenic, however the views from the top are outstanding. Unfortunately, today was hazy and the LV Strip was difficult to even see. Other than the dusty air, the weather was warm with little breeze. To the left, you can see the view of Calico Basin and below, the view of Red Cap and the route from which we came.

After taking a break on the peak and writing in the summiters' log, the fourteen of us headed downhill. Remember the steepness and the loose rock? Well, let's just say that downhill was a challenge. Although hiking sticks would have helped this blogger at this point, there is so much steep climbing and bouldering that the sticks would have been in the way for that. It always comes down to a matter of choice.

We headed back down the way we came up until we reached the sandstone plateau. After another short break, our fearless leader decided to take the scenic route which amounted to going straight up over this small peak and then straight down and down and down the other side.

Almost all of the rock we were climbing down was loose and several avalanches were created. It became very important to watch your back as well as your front and side. With ears open and aware, we all made it down at our own speed and arrived at the point where Gateway Canyon had ended and the sandstone had begun. From there, we returned to our normal breakneck speed while flying down the dry waterfalls and negotiating big and little boulders. This blogger's knees will hurt for a while!

The final climb was that which ascended from Gateway Canyon to the edge of Calico Hills. Although it didn't seem like a difficult task, the thighs and hamstrings were pretty much done and the climb became the proof in the pudding that we had had one heck of a workout.