Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year !!!

Happy New Year to the Around the Bend Friends and everyone else around the world who visits this site. We would like to proudly point out that we will be bringing in the new year with over a total of 10,000 page views since January of 2009. We will continue this year bringing as much up to date information on hikes, hikers and the hiking club as we can to the Las Vegas hiking community. We will also enjoy visitors to this site from all over the world. Russia, Germany, China and the United Kingdom top the long list of countries from which we have visitors and as a club based in a city who loves hosting the whole world, we welcome you.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sienna Ridge & Merry Christmas - 12/24/10

Although this photo was taken in 2008 when Red Rock Canyon NCA got 8 inches of beautiful snow, we still dream in white when Christmas time comes. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Today, Chris sponsored a nice 5.6 mile hike on the ridge across Town Center Drive from Sienna which included five hikers. It was a good workout as we scrambled up the side of a steep hill to the ridge. Then we hiked along the ridge until we reached a "grand canyon." Turning back, we headed down a fun scrambling wash and returned on a dirt road and wide wash. Views of the Strip, Blue Diamond Hills, Red Rock Canyon, Mt. Potosi and the rest of the city were observed from the top of the ridge. Thanks Chris.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Red & Black Mtns. via Bootleg Trails - 12/23/10

Finally! We are back on the trails. Geez, that was a lot of rain. We really needed it but ... all at once?!! Red Rock Canyon NCA flooded and closed along with Zion NP just over the border in Utah. Mesquite and a couple of smaller towns just north of there were really hit hard by flooding Virgin and Muddy Rivers. For them, it was not a happy time at all. In Las Vegas, we had flooding but it was kept to a minimum by the water channels that have been put into place. The Mt. Charleston NRA got a ton of snow and have dealt with their power outages. At any rate, for us hikers, the tenajas will be full now, the animals will have plenty of water through the winter, and obstacles in a few of the well-hiked canyons will be changed around.

Therefore, twelve hikers who were all feeling a little of the cabin fever got together this morning for a hike which began on the Bootleg Trails in Boulder City. This was a new hike for the Around the Bend Friends which essentially turned the out and back Red and Black hike into a loop around Red Mountain adding both summits to the loop at the saddle.

Santa's helpers were among the hikers today. The 7.3 mile loop began by hiking around the west side of Red Mountain. The trail lead parallel to the dirt road which is used to take people up to the beginning of the zip line and the huge antennae array situated on one of Red Mountain's peaks.

Although the Strip was visible for much of the west side of the hike, the clouds covered the snow capped mountains across from us. This photo (above) which was taken early on shows the best view of the snow covered Griffith Peak and Mt. Charleston. Mummy Mountain is also peeking over the clouds on the right side. When we got to the saddle between Red and Black Mountains, we turned left and climbed Black Mountain first.

From the top, we saw Lake Mead, a partial view of the new Hoover Dam bridge, Boulder City, and the water- filled (normally dry) playa which lies next to the highway that leads south to Laughlin. We ate a snack here while enjoying the views. The clouds laid low over the horizon and soon obscured the sun which had kept us quite warm. As the temperature dipped, we got back on the trail.

After hiking back down to the saddle, we began our climb up to the top of Red Mountain. When we reached the top zip line platform, we saw approximately eight big horn sheep across the canyon from us. They posed a few times then returned to their foraging. One big horn had a wide black collar around his neck. The BLM folks keep track of the sheep as best they can.

Reaching the top of Red Mountain, we were still watching the big horns. The view from here isn't quite as spectacular as it is from Black Mountain even though it is slightly higher in elevation. We enjoyed it anyway then headed back down to the saddle once more.

From here, we hiked down the trail toward the River Mountain trailhead on Hwy 93.

Instead of continuing to that trailhead, we turned to the right and hiked across the base of Red Mountain on a roll-y poll-y bike trail. Soon, we were hiking past the end of the zip line and into the parking lot where we started about 4 hours earlier.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Frenchman Mountain - 12/16/10

The Around the Bend Friends hiked the Frenchman Mountain on the east side of the valley today.

For a good description of the Frenchman Mtn. hike, go to the entry made in February of 2013. The archives are listed in the column to the right.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Red Cap - 12/7/10

Some Las Vegas hikers know how much this writer enjoys photographing the Red Cap / Calico Hills area in Red Rock Canyon NCA. Above is one of the latest photos taken on a recent Red Cap hike.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blue Diamond Canyons 2 & 3 (also, Pine Creek) - 12/11/10

The Blue Diamond Canyons are located directly across highway 159 from Blue Diamond, Nevada. Counting the canyons from right to left, twenty- three hikers climbed canyon #2 and descended canyon #3. The canyons are both filled with wonderful challenges of scrambling which we all tackled with enjoyment. Across the highway at the escarpment, the second hike was taking place at Pine Creek and the Fire Ecology Trail where a talk would be given by Chris on the area's interesting history.

Parking just off the highway at the fenced in utility building, we climbed through the barbed wire fence until someone was able to open the gate. Then we dropped down into canyon #2 to the right of the building. The scrambling began immediately up through the fossil inlaid limestone canyon. Its walls rose up to fifty feet on each side and both canyons were quite narrow at times. The beauty of the canyons was unexpected to those that had not experienced this hike before today. In the opinion of the writer, this hike is arguably the second best three miles of scrambling offered in the Red Rock Canyon NCA. (The first being Red Cap.)

Dry waterfalls appeared at many twists and turns. Some of these obstacles were a bit daunting. However, many of us were able to negotiate them without having to take the path up the walls and around. At one waterfall, someone has anchored a permanent rope to aid in the climb. Other than that, we were able to make it up through canyon #2 without any help from added rope.

The hike up the canyon did not end until the gypsum mining operation was visible up the hill to the right and the canyon came to a dead end. Here, we hung a left and scrambled up the steep hill to perch on top of the Blue Diamond Hills for our snack break. Our view toward the south looked like the photo below. The sun was out in full force and some of us actually got quite warm. It is a mild December here in the southwest.

As we dropped down into the neighboring canyon #3, we found a couple of old animal bones as seen to the left. (At least, we assume they were from animals!) Other interesting stuff that we saw today included a jack rabbit, several shellfish fossils and possible dinosaur footprints. Yes, we have a little imagination but, you never know! Canyon #3 offered its own set of dry waterfall obstacles, one of which was quite difficult to negotiate. We used a rope and a little help from our friends.

The canyon gave us many steep descents. This portion of the hike was filled with a lot of cats claw and velcro bushes. Hikers don't appreciate either of these hindrances. Eventually, we made it to the bottom where a trail led us across the desert and back to our cars at the utility building with all twenty- three of us accounted for.

Blue Diamond Canyons

Pine Creek Loop and Fire Ecology Trail

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Las Vegas Overlook via Boneshaker Hill - 12/9/10

Frisky horses in the Red Rock Cowboy Corrals began our hike today to the Las Vegas Overlook. These two playful horses were very rambunc- tious as twenty- one hikers hiked by on their way to Boneshaker Hill, the route we climbed to the top of the Blue Diamond Hills. The cowboys were preparing a large group of horses for an upcoming trail ride and as we passed them they gave us a hearty "Hello!" and "Have a nice hike!"

We crossed the desert to the left of the corrals and turned right to begin our climb. Boneshaker Hill is a steep hill that the mountain bikers have named presumably because of the rough ride it presents. First thing in the morning, this climb is quite challenging. That's not to say that it is less challenging otherwise! However, it is nice to get this part of the hike over with in the beginning when we are fresh.

After achieving the hill and gathering all twenty- one hikers together again, we continued to climb on a much more gradual slope for the next mile or so. We passed the Boneshaker sign (which is falling apart) and the fenced in utility station then arrived at the new Las Vegas Overlook where we could see the whole valley from Henderson to Gass Peak.

The day was overcast and very cool to begin with. As the hike progressed past the snack break, the sun made its debut and things began to warm up a little. The panorama photograph seen below was taken at the overlook showing clear air underneath the clouds. There was little to no wind. Below, these hikers were smiling so great on their way up the hill, that the photo just had to go on the website!

Above, this photo is of the Brownstone Canyon area as seen from the overlook. We stayed here for a snack but returned to the hike before our muscles got too cold. Hiking along the ridge to the left, we began heading back toward the Calico Hills which we could see across Highway 159. At the Old Las Vegas Overlook, we took more pictures.

The trail dipped down and back up to a saddle just before Skull Canyon then climbed up to the right to begin descending the ridge that would take us to the Muffins. Another mile of hiking brought us to the "Muffins." These large rock outcroppings are squarish in form and stick up from the ridge where one can see them from the highway below. Some hike leaders have fun with the name and bring muffins to eat when the participants reach the rocks.

Today, there were a few spirited adventurers that tried their hand ... er, hands and feet ... at climbing one of these "muffins" of around ten feet tall. The view from here is fantastic even when the skies don't completely cooporate. Ready to begin the last leg of the hike, we started down the steep hill. After descending halfway, we got a sort of respite of flat trail as we circled around the hill towards neighboring Skull Canyon. Eventually, it was necessary to finish the descent down to the area where we had cut off to go up Boneshaker Hill earlier.

We quickly hiked back to the horse corrals where we saw a huge bus parked in the tiny parking lot where we all had parked. A group of school children were being treated to a field trip at the Red Rock Cowboy Stables with the guidance of two of Red Rock's finest (Aaron and Kate). The kids were happily assembling to re-board the bus when we hiked out and the huge bus easily drove out of the lot before we needed to leave.