Saturday, June 26, 2010

Stanley B Mine & Loop - 6/26/10

This blogger is going out on a limb today with a blog of the hike even though she did not attend! The scheduled hike was for the Stanley B Mine and Spring with an added alternative of the loop hike around the hill in which the mine is located. At the top of this hill, there is an overlook area from where the hiker can see 360 degrees of Kyle Canyon peaks. Above, there is a photo of Harris Peak from this area. Below, a new and improved graphic of the loop is presented. A variation of this map may have been hiked today. If anyone would like to give a report of today's events, your comments are very welcome by clicking on the "comment" below. (P.S. Corrections have been made to previous graphics. The blogger became confused about highway numbers recently!!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fletcher Peak - 6/24/10

The twenty- one hikers who showed up for the Fletcher Peak climb divided into two groups; a small group of five who elected to make the climb up through the more difficult route of Hummingbird Gulch and the larger group of sixteen who hiked the more traditional route which begins at the North Loop trailhead located on Deer Creek Highway.

We climbed up to the meadows taking only one small break and after resting for just a minute, we began hiking up the switchbacks toward Raintree. Making good time again, we stopped at the 10,000 foot corner for another break before heading down toward Mummy's Toe. Just before reaching the old bristlecone tree named "Raintree," we turned left onto an obscure small trail which lead down to a saddle at approximately 9800 feet.

This is the saddle located at the top of the Humming- bird Gulch route. The other five hikers were not quite there yet so we continued our climb up to the peak. This final part of the climb was the steepest and took us up to the 10,280 foot mark in elevation. For many of us, the altitude was taking its toll and heavy breathing could be heard from fellow hikers as they found their way up. The trail was faint but unnecessary as the blue sky beckoned us from below.

The view from the peak was 360 degrees of familiar Spring Mountain landmarks. We saw Griffith Peak, Kyle Canyon, Mt. Charleston Peak, Mummy Mountain, the old testing site in the far desert and, yes, even Wilson Peak and Bridge Mountain in Red Rock. The sky was clear and a blustery cool wind blew as we sat for our snack and wrote in the log book.

After about ten minutes, the group of five hikers made their appearance on the peak. Being very strong hikers, none of them seemed worse for the wear. (Translation: they still looked fresh and ready for the next challenge.) And, soon, we all headed back down via the traditional route. At this point, much to our coordinator's chagrin, we became very spread out as we made our way down the now familiar route.

Those hikers that were still far enough back in the long broken line heard that the coordinator had intended to take a slightly different route down from the meadows utilizing the Wild Horse Canyon trail and twelve hikers turned left at another old bristlecone when the coordinator caught up. We took a delightful descent through the canyon and came very close to seeing a large animal that hurried through the brush when we approached. Was this the fabled wild horse who lived in this area? We thought he was dead. Oh well, perhaps it was only his ghost!

This hike climbed from 8500 feet to 10,000 feet to 9800 feet to 10,280 feet. Then it reversed over an out and back distance of 7.6 miles.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Deer Creek - 6/19/10

Forty- one hikers made the journey through time on the Deer Creek Trail today. Beginning in the parking lot on Highway 156 (or Deer Creek Hwy), we crossed the road and began hiking up through the Deer Creek picnic area. At the early hour of nine o'clock, the picnic tables were already beginning to fill. Next to the paved trail, the creek ran full while making little waterfalls and opportunities for building small dams in an afternoon of fun and relaxation.

After passing Picnic Table #7, which was the last one on the paved route, we crossed an old gate to turn onto a dirt road which serves a few mountain homes in the area. We saw the sign that said "NO TRESPASSING" and kept walking. It helps if you know the owner of the land. This property is an old resort area that began its life in the 20's just previous to the Great Depression. The present owner of the property is rebuilding the resort by his own hand. He is truly making the property a place of reverie again.

Just past the owner's cabin lies the old sawmill that was used to build the original mountain resort. There isn't much left of it but it is interesting to imagine the flurry of activity that must have been a day to day occurrence in this place at that time. Up the road, we would pass the ruins of the workers' quarters which are now in total disarray. We wondered if this site would be rebuilt as it was or as another cabin to be rented out.

Beyond the sawmill, we could see Mummy's Toe which is part of Mummy Mountain. This whole area lies beneath this large mountain which is the second highest peak in the Spring Mountain range. The entire mountain is viewed best from the Lee Canyon Highway (or Hwy 157). The shape of the mummy is obvious here to the observer with the toes to the left, the tummy in the middle and the head to the right.

After leaving the sawmill and passing the worker's quarters, we passed a couple more cabins as the road became steep and slippery with rock and dirt. The final climb brought us to an overlook. The view was dominated by Mummy's Nose. The head of the mummy in the mountain, is made up of a few different peaks. The most prominent peak is the "nose." From the place we stood, it was impossible to see the whole head configuration, therefore, see previous paragraph.

We sat at the overlook where there were many log stools and benches and ate our snack. The smell of the forest permeated our nostrils as our lungs hungrily breathed in the fresh, cool mountain air. We gazed at the high and tilted peak before us or spoke heartily to our friends.

Finally, the short three mile hike had to begin its end and we began our careful climb down the steep dirt road. We felt lucky to have been allowed to experience the Deer Creek road and its lovely facades of log cabins and history.

When we got back down to the picnic area, the tables were full. Families were enjoying the creek. Dams were being made. Burgers and tacos were on the grill. Dogs were playing with balls. The forest ranger was patrolling. And, marshmallows were roasting on open (grill) fires.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Window in the Cliff - 6/17/10

The Window in the Cliff hike begins at the Bonanza Trailhead which is located at the end of the dirt road which leads out of the Cold Creek community. This area is known for roaming wild horses and houses powered by solar alone. It is also a community settled a few miles into the mountains from the prison and correctional facility!

Window in the Cliff is one tough hike! It could be the fifty-seven switchbacks up 2000 feet in elevation over four miles. Or, it could be the half mile of scrambling over sharp fossil encrusted limestone and large scree-falls over a forty-five degree angled slope. Or, it could be the return of the half mile which requires a reverse of the second choice. Or, perhaps, it is the endless hike down the fifty-seven switchbacks which tests the knees to their limit. In the photo above, a few of today's sixteen hikers crowded in to get the long distance view of the destination of our climb.

The redeeming qualities of the Window in the Cliff hike are as follows: the window, itself, is uniquely placed at the top of a cliff (how did it get formed?), the hike is not well-travelled (therefore, the hiker is one of the lucky few to experience the window), and, it feels absolutely fabulous to have accomplished the nine-mile hike after it's over!

The Cold Creek, Nevada community from one of the switchbacks.

The town of Pahrump and Death Valley, California beyond from the top of the saddle.

Talking with your hiking neighbor is a good way to make the time and effort pass quickly as you hike the switchbacks up the mountain to the Bonanza saddle which lies just below the Bonanza Peak. We took a small break at the saddle to munch something and put our gloves on. Gloves are important here because the next phase of the hike requires close contact with the razor sharp limestone that crowns the ridge which we scrambled along next.

When we were unable to climb over the limestone outcrop- pings, we had to drop down into the heavy scree that covered the steep slope. There is no trail for this part of the hike and, as a result, there were several interpretations as to what the best route was to take through the forest of white trees. This area was burned by a forest fire several years ago and the trees now display an eerie quality like something from "Lord of the Rings."

When we finally climbed the last slope of scree to the window, we were ready for a break. We sat under the shade of the window or on the rocks in the sun and contemplated the beautiful views of Nevada on one side and California on the other side. There was a sign-in book and many pictures were taken.

Eventually, the return climb across the ridge had to be faced. Again, there were a few different routes that were taken. The most successful route seems to have been the one closest to the peak of the ridge. We took another short break at the saddle and began the long and arduous trip down the switchbacks. Five hours after beginning the hike, we returned to the cars and began the forty mile drive back to the carpooling point. Although this hike had its up and down, we will be back to experience it again next year.

Wild horses were roaming the area a few hundred yards from the dirt road which leads out of Cold Creek.

This Google Earth map was taken in January of 2007. We only saw one little patch of snow on the trail today.

This is a map of the trail with the approach.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Costa Rica & Havasu Falls

From time to time, club members send me pictures of their travels. Cory wanted us to see that she really did rappel down a 114 foot waterfall in Costa Rica! You go girl!

Meanwhile, Keith and his wife, Sue, took the trip to Havasu Falls at the Grand Canyon which is located on an Indian Reservation. The Indians (er, native Americans) control this area of the canyon and the trip down to the falls and campground is, apparently, quite an adventure.

It is an eight to nine mile hike one way down into the canyon and you have to carry your camping equipment or pay for a mule to carry it for you. The first part of the hike seems very similar to what we experienced while hiking to Phantom Ranch. Then you have to camp in a tent for the duration of your stay at the falls area.

The route down from the campground to the falls seems to be quite an adventure ... to say the least. These pictures show that it involves chains, step ladders and iron ladders which are attached to the canyon wall. Those native Americans sure know how to make things exciting!

Never- theless, the end game seems to be extremely rewarding as the water in this part of the canyon is a beautiful light turquoise blue in color. Although this area was flooded a couple of years ago by a flash flood that trapped about thirty hikers and permanently changed the appearance of what used to be twin falls, the area has been restored and is still quite beautiful.

Keith is very excited about his trip and is willing to set up a similar trip for the club. You might want to think seriously about this one, folks! It would be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

So, Keith. What happens at the end of the ladder? Do you jump???