Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wild Horse Ridge - 7/31/10

It was a beautifully cloudy day for thirty- one hikers to climb the North Loop Trail and descend on Wild Horse Ridge today. The sun was not a factor as we hiked up to the meadow ... and, neither was rain. We enjoyed the cool breeze and took our time going up the 1000 feet in elevation. On the way, we leap- frogged with three twenty- something men who had "a new respect" for us old- timers by the time we all made it to the top!

As each hiker arrived at the meadow, we found a place to sit and eat our snack while non- stop conversa- tions filled the air. It was interesting that the shelter of sticks and logs which is usually there among the trees no longer exists. A fire had been built there by a tree which was mostly burned, too, and we figure the two observations are related.

After our break, we crossed the meadow, passed the old bristlecone tree at the end, and started out on the small foot path which leads on a mostly level contour around to a rocky ridge. We dropped down a ways and found ourselves on a narrow ridge which overlooked the canyon formed by Deer Creek. We could also see Mummy's Chin higher in the same direction.

Behind us, Mummy Mountain loomed. And, in front of us, the desert playa of the Nevada Test Site was in the distance. The ridge hike was fun and easy terrain. We hiked the ridge all the way down to the intersection of Highway 158 and the dirt road which runs up beside Deer Creek. From there, we hiked beside the road back to our cars. The total mileage for the hike was around 3.75 miles.

Friday, July 30, 2010

South Sister - 7/29/10

Chris emailed the blogger and offered this report of Thursday's hike to the peak of South Sister (aka Big Sister.)

The numbers were down a bit for the club hike today to South Sister, as 13 hardy souls showed up for the 5-mile out-and-back trek to a very distinctive peak overlooking Lee Canyon. Perhaps that was due to the nearly 2,000 feet of elevation that had to be gained climbing to the top or perhaps it was because clouds seemed to be building over the Spring Mountains that morning.

As we started up the trail we were greeted with our first rain shower. It wasn't very heavy precipitation, so only a few of the hikers decided to bring out any rain gear. That shower stopped after a few minutes and we continued up the faint trail through a drainage that eventually would bring us to a narrow saddle between two ridges. Near the top of that saddle we were greeted with a second shower, this one more intense than the first. Clouds hung low over the mountains, with the tops of the peaks across Lee Canyon shrouded in the mist and the rainfall evident above the north ridge between Mummy and Charleston. At this point, we decided to climb the steep ridge to where we would get a view of our target and then decide whether or not to continue to the peak. As luck would have it, the clouds parted somewhat and the rain stopped, so we were able to make the steep climb to the top.

Of our group, about five or six hikers had never done this hike before and didn't know what was in store for them. One of our newer members was overheard commenting to a fellow hiker, while in the more level section of the first drainage, that this hike seemed to be much easier than the one we did the previous week to Mummy Springs. By the time we were at the top, he had changed his mind on that call. Getting to the saddle at the top between the split peak sections, we then explained what was necessary to get to the actual peak. Most of the participants did the Class 3 climb through the cliff section to the main peak and walked the narrow rock ridge along the top to the sign-in box. Did I tell you that there were drop offs on both sides of the ridge, which was only a few feet wide in a few spots?

While perusing the sign-in book during our short snack break, Bill Scheib noted a startling anomaly. Our club had last done this hike the previous year on July 30, almost one year to the day before our current adventure. On that occasion, we must have felt that our time getting to the top was pretty fast, as we had indicated that we had made the summit at 10:46 AM that day. Ironically, the participants on this year's version reached the peak (you guessed it) at precisely 10:46 AM. Talk about coincidences.

After a short stay, our group headed down without any incidences and the weather cooperated in every way. Once again, an exciting and safe experience for all.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

John Muir Trail Excursion - 7/20 thru 23/10

The John Muir Trail Hike which was coordinated by Bill S. and was joined by Cory, Kay K. and Jane began as a 7 day backpacking adventure and turned into a 3 day jaunt. We were very surprised to hear from Kay this morning. She said the four of them were interested in cutting the journey short time-wise due to the challenge of carrying the heavy packs. The first day, they hiked 12 miles. The second day, they hiked 7 miles. And, the last day, they hiked a whopping 17.5 miles! For more photos of the beautiful sights, see Kay's website. We're glad you guys are back safe.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

South Kyle Canyon Loop - 7/24/10

Ann led twenty- eight hikers through a wonderful maze of trails in the upper portions of southern Kyle Canyon today. She began our hike at the Cathedral Rock parking area where we found a spur trail to the Cathedral Picnic Area. We hiked through the picnic area keeping to the right until the end where we hiked straight out of the paved road.

We followed a trail until it connected with part of the Rainbow Loop Trail, then followed it until it reached the South Loop Trail. Climbing upward, we zigzagged to another trail junction and hung a left at the corner of a switchback. We were now immediately above the area of forest which burned as the "Cathedral Fire" a few weeks ago. Our consensus was that the fire men and women did a wonderful job and the area was not in total devastation.

At the peak of our climb of approximately 700 feet, we sat at the overlook which is also used for the Rainbow Loop hike and had a snack. The Echo community, Mt. Charleston Peak and the end of Kyle Canyon could be seen from our perch.

The first photo was taken from here and the photo below was taken from a point a little further down from the peak of this knoll.

At the end of our break, we continued hiking by circling around the knoll on which we had rested. At this point of the hike, we were actually going through the upper part of the burned area. We finally realized that the bright red rock strewn about was caused by fire retardant that had been dropped by helicopters that weekend of the fire. Charred trees that still smelled like an old campfire were on both sides of the trail. The majority of the black trees were below us but the interesting thing was that not every tree was a lost cause. The forest will live on!

We reconnected with the South Loop and took that trail all the way back to the Cathedral Picnic Area. From there, five of us took the Cathedral Rock trail back to its trailhead while the other hikers headed down the paved road. This hike, today, was a distance of just under 4 miles in 2.5 hours.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mummy Springs Loop - 7/22/10

Fourteen hikers attended today's hike which was affection- ately called "Mummy Springs (The Hard Way)!" Making a 6-mile loop hike with the familiar destinations of Mummy Springs and Raintree, we began by parking at the North Loop Trailhead. From there, we hiked up Highway 158 (or Deer Creek Hwy) for a short distance and turned left onto the dirt road which leads up by the Deer Creek Picnic Area and on to the summer homes above.

When the road turned to the right at the cabins, we kept hiking straight up the hill finding ourselves on a small trail. This trail is the original trail for Mummy Springs and Mummy's Toe. It is a more difficult trail than the new one that comes from Raintree because it finds a steep ridge that climbs out of the canyon and continues on up to the new Mummy's Toe Trail without the use of switchbacks.

In these photos, you can see the steepness of the terrain. Why would anyone want to climb up the mountain this way when there is a perfectly good trail with switchbacks via the North Loop? Well, the views are tremendous. Climbing the steep ridge, the hiker can see the desert below through the mountains, Mummy's Chin peeking out over the horizon, Mummy's Toe beckoning from above and bristlecone trees ruling the roost all about.

While staying in touch by radio with two faster hikers, we climbed the ridge, turned left at the junction with the new Mummy's Toe Trail then met those two hikers at Mummy Springs for a snack. The springs were drizzling and feeding the orange and lavender columbine flowers which covered the hillside below them. The setting as seen in the first photo is peaceful and pleasant.

After a rest, we returned to the trail and hiked up to Raintree for another small break under the old landmark. After 3000 years (approximately), the old tree is still healthy with a lush canopy of bristles reaching up high. We soon started out on the return leg of our hike which led up the ridge that was filled with more bristlecone trees with yellow flowers scattered about.

We stopped for water and a breather two more times; once at the high point of the hike and once at the meadows. Although the pace of the hike was not slow, it was not a race and all the hikers enjoyed the outing which had quickly gained almost 1500 feet in elevation then, a little more slowly, lost the same. The hike only lasted about 3.5 hours.

Monday, July 19, 2010

More Travels - 7/19/10

This is another edition of Club Members' Travels. Cory, John B., Cindy and Kay K. have graciously allowed us to post a few of their gorgeous pictures on our website. Some of the photography in this club is outstanding and deserves a venue.


Altitude has some odd effects on some people and Cory is no exception! Here she is showing how happy she was to make it to the top of Mt. Charleston Peak (11,913 ft. plus, oh, about 10 more feet). Now, there's a view!

Mt. Charleston Peak - Two routes lead to the highest peak in southern Nevada. The South Loop Trail starts near Cathedral Rock, climbs up to the junction with the Harris Springs Trail, then turns right across the top of the south ridge, passing a large meadow area and the site of a 1955 plane crash before making a steep climb to the summit. One-way distance is 8.75 miles. The North Loop Trail starts at Highway 158 and is 11 miles long, but it can be shortened to 8.25 miles by using Trail Canyon Trail. Either of these trails can be done as an out-and-back, or the peak can be hiked as a point-to-point hike using Trail Canyon for a total of 17 miles.

John B.

John has been a member of the club for three years but lately has not been able to hike much. Instead, he has been kayaking in an inflatable kayak on the Colorado River putting out at Willow Beach below Hoover Dam. He loves getting out on the calm river very early in the morning with the fishermen and travelling eight to ten miles up river before turning around. This is an all day adventure where he sees wildlife, waterfalls, caves and other beautiful scenery. And, yes, he gets really sore!


Cindy recently visited Cathedral Gorge State Park between Las Vegas and Ely, Nevada. She got there in the late afternoon and was able to get some very nice photos of the evening and sunset inside the park. She said it wasn't terribly hot and, at night, the temperatures got down to around 70 degrees. The small hotel that she stayed in at Caliente was very comfortable and had just been remodeled. She said it was $57 for the night. However, if you prefer, Cathedral Gorge State Park has a nice campground which advertises that it has showers!

Kay K.

Kay has travelled a lot this last month which is why we have been missing her energetic presence on Saturdays lately. Her talent behind the camera is evident in these photos.

The first photo is of the Wahweap Hoodoos in Grand Staircase Escalante located in southern Utah. To the left is a photo of the Shaman Gallery, an exceptional and unique set of pictographs in the northwest section of the Grand Canyon. (She said she didn't have a very hard time finding them with directions in the remote area.) Third is a beautiful picture of Pyramid Lake which is controlled by the native Americans in western Nevada north of Sparks. And, fourth, the piece de resistance! Fly Geyser is found in the Blackrock Desert in northwest Nevada. It is located on private property and special permission is needed to get on the property to see it. Isn't it exquisite?

Thank you, everyone, for sharing your travels.