Sunday, September 27, 2009

South Loop Overlook - 9/26/09

Hopefully, all had a great time hiking the South Loop Trail. Don't forget to email Guy about picnic attendance coming up next Saturday.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Old South Sister Route - 9/24/09

The hike to the top of South Sister began at the Old Mill Picnic Area off of Lee Canyon Road. It was a very nice hike for viewing fall color while getting an extremely good workout. The hike is only about 5.25 miles but the elevation gain is almost 2000 feet. The hike began as an easy "Stroll" through the picnic area and up a rock-lined trail. We left this trail for our "Warm-Up" on a faint trail that led up through the wash ending at the saddle. It was clear that we were all "warmed-up" as we finished the steep climb.

Next, we turned right and headed up the next hill for "The Test." There was very little trail but we all understood that if you were going UP then you would get to the next part of the hike. This climb was not extremely steep but after the "Warm-Up" it was a challenge none-the-less.

Next came a sort of respite called "The Ridge." That's just a fancy name for the ridge that crosses over to the "Real Deal" which is shown in the picture to the left. This is the top of South Sister and the steep scree climb that you see going up the middle is none other than the "Real Deal." Aside from this view, there are several very nice views from this portion of the hike including Mt. Charleston, the ski area and the Bristlecone Trail.

This view is found on the "Real Deal." The steepness of this climb is difficult to capture in the lens, however, there is still beauty all around.

At the top of the mountain is an old bristlecone stand and a rock outcropping that we climbed up on for a snack and views. The moss seen to the right, was found throughout the hike and also on this rocky mountain top. If anyone has any information on the type of moss this is, please make a comment below.

After a short rest and much picture-taking, we came off the top. It was quite cool up there at 10,300 feet so we were ready to start the steep descent. In the picture to the left, you see 3 of the 13 hikers surrounded by outstanding views of Mt. Charleston and yellow aspens lining avalanche zones in the surrounding mountains.

Again, the steepness of the "Real Deal" is difficult to always see through the lens, however, if you look past this happy hiker to the right, you can get an idea of one technique used to make your way down the scree-filled hillside. After getting down this portion of the hike, it was just a matter of crossing "The Ridge," going down "The Test," cooling down on the "Warm-Up" and "Strolling" back to the cars.

Oscar the horse was seen walking down Lee Canyon Road on the way out. Oscar didn't seem to mind the camera and stayed for several posed pictures. Don't you just love the evil eye he's giving us??

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hollow Rock Peak - 9/22/09

Although this was not an official hike of the Around the Bend Friends Hiking Club, there were many club members attending this hike today to Hollow Rock Peak. Twenty-one hikers were very excited to be back to their first hike of the season at the Red Rock Canyon area. The early morning began very cool and stayed cool throughout the four hour hike. There was some wind during the middle of the hike.

The trailhead was located off of Hwy 160 at the top of the pass to Pahrump. We began the hike going up around 800 feet within the first mile and a quarter. At this point, the trail began ascending and descending a few times. Each time we lost elevation, we would gain it back with another steep climb. The total amount of feet climbed during the complete hike of 5 miles (out and back) was 1941 feet.

About 2/3 through the hike, the ground under our feet changed from limestone to sandstone. In the picture above, you can see the line of change being carried through on around the Escarpment which we were standing above. Word has it that the limestone is creeping ever so slowly into Las Vegas from the Death Valley region. But, don't worry! It has taken it thousands, maybe millions, of years to get this far!

After reaching the sandstone portion of the hike, there was a steep descent into a small crevice or wash followed by a steep climb up to the final destination. The footing was loose but everyone made it through without problems.

The views from Hollow Rock Peak included the Las Vegas Strip in the distance, Grapevine Spring Canyon below and Mt. Potosi pictured at the top of this entry.

The peak is topped off by a large boulder. A few hikers attempted to scale the beast, however, it wasn't to be done today. We sat here taking in the view and chattering about everything and nothing while just enjoying being in the desert once again.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cathedral to Mt. Charleston Hotel - 9/19/09

The hike for today began at the Cathedral Rock Trailhead parking lot. Twenty-nine hikers began by climbing the hill just up from the actual trailhead to a small trail that led to the Cathedral Rock Picnic Area. It was a cool morning which made the hike very pleasant.

We hiked through the picnic area to site #47 where we stopped for a moment to admire a hut someone had built with sticks and logs. Then we continued our hike through the site and ended up on a portion of the Rainbow Loop Trail. Here, we headed downhill with a nice view of Mummy's Toe across the canyon. The hike travelled through the lower part of the Rainbow community and went into the first of two campgrounds.

All around us, there were blooming rabbitbrush and aspens with leaves changing to bright yellow. Fall is in the air ... if not in the valley temperatures which are still hanging around at the one hundred degree mark. But, the Spring Mtns. are dipping below fifty degrees every night now and the leaves are responding.

After passing through the first camp- ground, we hiked past the Visitor's Center where we took a small break. Then we took a trail behind the Visitor's Center that led to the parking lot for Fletcher Canyon. We hiked through the second campground then stepped into the main Kyle Canyon wash and continued down the mountain. By the way, there was no water in the wash ...!

At the end of the wash section of the hike, we took another small break. One hiker spotted bones lying in the brush nearby. It appeared that a small deer had had an invitation to dinner that it could not refuse. Perhaps the recent invitation was offered by a mountain lion.

After the break, we began the old golf course portion of the hike. We found ourselves hiking on a cart path of the course which had been in existence a short 5 or 6 years ago. The steps to the left probably led to the next tee or something. Rabbitbrush had grown up all over the fairways and it took a large imagination to see anything that resembled a fairway, bunker or tee; much less to imagine golfers swinging their clubs.

The one way hike was a total of five miles which was virtually all downhill losing around 1000 feet of elevation. When we reached the hotel, it was sprinkling a little rain which didn't last too long. Drivers of carpool cars were shuttled up to the Cathedral Rock parking lot to retrieve their cars and head back downhill to pick up their riders.

The GPS waypoint map show the trail we took from the left to the right. The lighter areas show where the satellite authorities are updating the images.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Big Falls / Mary Jane Falls - 9/17/09

We found Waldo at Big Falls!

There were eighteen hikers today to do the double header of Big Falls and Mary Jane Falls. After parking at the Mary Jane Falls parking lot at the end of Kyle Canyon below Mt. Charleston, we proceeded to hike up the Mary Jane Falls trail. When the trail heads off to the right, we continued straight and curved around to the left where we began an ascent along the side of the washed out wash.

Eventually, the trail dipped down into what was then a very rocky wash and we climbed our way up skipping from boulder to boulder, stepping over logs and finding our way around "obstacle rock." After working at this for a seemingly short amount of time in the cool mountain air, we arrived at the huge cliff inlet which is Big Falls during the spring snow melt. Today, however, is was bone dry! (In spite of efforts of fellow hikers to provide some small waterfall with their supply of bottled water!)

Several hikers climbed up to the perch above the floor of the dry falls providing a nice silhouette for the photog. Others stayed down below where they took a break and had the first of two small snacks. At this point, we had only hike around two miles and climbed around 800 feet of elevation. It was here that we discovered Waldo. Although the painted rock was a nice effort given by an obvious artist, it still ranked in the category of graffitti in most of our books.

Going back down the wash offered a slightly different route around the obstacle rock leading the group to a small trail found on the opposite side of the wash from where we came up. Although this trail was treacherous, our group is usually "game" for anything doable. You can see on their faces what kind of fun the challenge presented.

Arriving almost all the way back to where we left the Mary Jane Falls trail, we turned left and began the climb on the old Mary Jane Falls trail. The old trail had no need nor desire for switchbacks, the civilized answer to a steep ascent. No, the old trail goes straight ... and I mean straight ... up to the falls. The only relief we were given was when the trail had to make slight detours around fallen trees! Most of us stopped for several breathers. From Big Falls to Mary Jane Falls by this route is almost a mile.

We arrived at the top just under the falls. The final ascent, completing the second 800 foot climb, was made in two different places; one was on the gravel slope below the water run and one headed directly to the trail entrance to the Mary Jane Falls area. After climbing the steep route, there were no takers on the famous cave excursion. We readily sat for our second snack break and talked to other hikers who had made the climb the usual way.

We enjoyed viewing the falls coming over the cliff. They had more water than they would normally at this time of year due to heavy rains in the area last weekend.

According to Wikipedia, Common Mullein, or verbascum thapsus, is a hairy biennial plant that can grow to 2 m or more tall. Its small yellow flowers are densely grouped on a tall stem, which bolts from a large rosette of leaves. It grows in a wide variety of habitats, but prefers well-lit disturbed soils, where it can appear soon after the ground receives light, from long-lived seeds that persist in the soil seed bank. It is a common weedy plant that spreads by prolifically producing seeds, but rarely becomes aggressively invasive, since its seed require open ground to germinate. It also hosts many insects, some of which can be harmful to other plants.

We completed the double header hike by going back to the parking lot via the new trail with switchbacks adding another mile and a half to the total. At the finish, we had done a rough and tumble 4.25 miles with two 800 foot ascents.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mormon Girl's Camp - 9/12/09

Camp Stimson is owned by the LDS church and is occupied by young ladies throughout the summer. Generally, the Around the Bend Friends hike the small trail associated with the camp after Labor Day when the camp has seen its last camper for the year. So, today, thirty hikers arrived at the starting point and, eventually intruded upon a large group of boy scouts who were using the camp for the weekend. They were very hospitable and allowed us to hike through as their meeting continued.

The camp has many interesting apparatus, not all of which we felt comfortable using. The first challenge was the rope climb. Some hikers used the rope and others didn't feel the need. The hill was steep but negotiable either way. One option to the rope climb was a 15 foot dry waterfall which two of our hikers conquered.

Other points of interest included the climbing wall and an amphitheater made of logs complete with spotlights hanging from a rigged wire!

The aspens continue to change colors and we hiked right through a beautiful stand of them beside a small running stream which we crossed a few times. The trail was short and, since this was our Saturday hike, we chose not to go exploring to extend the hike's length.

The hike ended up being only two miles with a few hundred feet of elevation gain. Above us, there was a small rain cloud which doused us with a few drops of rain. We came. We hiked. We left. Interesting place, but unless you know the area really well, the hike doesn't go far.