Monday, October 31, 2011

Up Muffins & Down Boneshaker Hill - 10/31/11

There were only eight hikers, today, as we climbed up to the Muffins on the North Blue Diamond Hills and expected to descend via neighboring Skull Canyon. As the hike unfolded, we changed our plans and chose a route of descent via Boneshaker Hill. It was a beautiful day with a fabulous temperature and no wind. We were enjoying the day so much that adding another half mile or so was just fine with us.

We began at the cowboy trails parking area where a few horses were being saddled up for a ride. We passed the corrals, crossed the desert floor then began a steady climb up to the Muffins. The trail was in the shade for all of this climb. Nearing the top where there is a sharp turn in the trail because of a crossing wash, we found where someone had built several cairns. (Maybe fifteen or so.)

Finally, as we entered the sunshine, we reached the Muffins, huge caliche boulders that sit on the edge of the hill overlooking Red Rock Canyon on one side and the Las Vegas Strip on the other. We simply took in the views. No one wanted to climb the boulders today.

We took a small break here before continuing up to the top of the ridge. The trail then descends to a juncture with another trail that takes the hiker up to the old Las Vegas overlook. At the overlook, we took our main break. We each found a place to sit and we simply enjoyed the view while we ate a snack. (Maybe it was just Monday.) Soon, we began to back track to the last trail juncture where we continued straight down to the source of Skull Canyon.

It was here that we changed our plans. We decided to continue straight and cross over the next canyon (an arm of Skull Canyon) and meet up with the Boneshaker Hill Trail. We began a steady casual descent on the ridge between Skull and Cave Canyons. We peeked over the edge to the right and saw the trail that we had been scheduled to take. The view in front of us was colorful and magnificent ... the Calico Hills and Red Rock escarpment. Below, find a view of the Boneshaker Hill as we approached its crest.

You know they don't call it "Bone- shaker" for nothin'! We chose the steepest trail (there are two) to descend. There are many rocks to slide on and step down off of. It is a respected route for bikers to challenge themselves on but we learned that it is almost as tough to hike down. Not sure what the views were ... concentrating too much on where to put my feet. Anywho ... we made it down and hiked back over to the horse corrals on a different trail. Quite a workout!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fern Canyon - 10/29/11

Fern Canyon is found on the right side of Mescalito Peak which is that pointy mountain in the center of Pine Creek Canyon off of the scenic loop of Red Rock Canyon NCA. Twenty- one hikers from the Around the Bend Friends hiked up Fern Canyon all the way to the waterfall that was dripping steadily on the rocks below.

Fern Canyon is a beautiful canyon to explore in the autumn season. Yellow leaves are frequent and the water level in the wash is low making the scramble up much easier to decipher. After stopping by the old Wilson homestead,we continued on through the floor of Pine Creek Canyon. Then we climbed up the right side of the canyon a short way to find the entrance to Fern Canyon. Reaching the running water, we began scrambling up beside the left wall of the canyon for most of the first half. The scenery was so lush that we had the feeling that we were no longer in the desert!

The ferns are found about halfway up the canyon and today they were large and healthy. As we ventured further into the canyon, the pools of water became deeper and the water was not apparently moving. Some of the landmarks along the trail are "vibram sole rock," "Jacob's Ladder," and "right side shelves 1 & 2." During the last third of the scramble, the water disappeared all together. We didn't see it again until we reached the thirty foot waterfall at the end.

When we reached the waterfall, around ten of us climbed up to the top where the view is great and there is a very picturesque pool area as seen in the first photo. We took our break here then returned to the cars in four groups. Three of the groups returned the way we came while one group took a small side trip up the right side of Pine Creek Canyon. It was a beautiful day for the 4.5 mile hike.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Club Member's Travels to Italy

Once in a while, we have a club member who sends pictures of their travels to somewhere in this wonderful world. Today, it is Mike O'C. that sends his pics of a bike rally in southern Italy. He entitles it, "A Tale of Two Islands."

The beers of Corsica

The Strait of Bonifacio separates the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. Beginning on the Cap Corse, the forefinger of northern Corsica, our three-week cycling odyssey swept southward down the island through picturesque coastal towns and secluded mountaintop villages.

Southeast Sardinia along the Tyrrhenian Sea

Aggressive wild pigs

Mamoiada, Sardinia: The Mask Museum

A short ferry ride across the strait delivered us to the shores of northern Sardinia. Continuing south, the ride meandered down the coast and across the spine of the island, ending in Sardinia's capital, Cagliari.

S'Archittu (Little Arches) western Sardinia

Tonara, Sardinia: The bell maker. Father & son make 100,000 bells per year, shipping worldwide, mostly to shepherds.

A long way to the finish

It was the best of France and Italia. A magnificent ride.

Outstanding Italian guides, Michele & Lisa

Running for mayor in Tertenia, Sardinia

Post-ride debrief

There was no shortage of mountainous terrain, as the 708-mile ramble featured over 47,000 feet of vertical ascent. Pluperfect weather and breathtaking scenery throughout. A keeper, for sure.

Mile 708: Wheel dip in the Tyrrhenian Sea

The last three photos are of our hike. That was our so-called 'rest day.' No cycling.

High above Su Gologone

Day hike in central Sardinia

Shepherd's lunch after the hike. An absolutely sumptuous selection of fresh meats, all washed down with the local cannonau wine.

Thanks for the blog trip to Italy, Mike!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rattlesnake Canyon - 10/27/11

Today's hike was another special one. It was the first time that the club ventured into Rattlesnake Canyon; a narrow canyon found at the Willow Springs Picnic Area in the Red Rock Canyon NCA. As folklore would have it, the canyon was named "Rattlesnake" because a friend and long-time member of AtBF had once climbed into the canyon and almost placed his hand on a rattler that was lurking on the rock above. The story stuck and so did the name. It also serves as a reminder that, in rattler country, hikers best look before they place their hands.

So, we began our scrambling outing imme- diately out of Willow Springs. We learned right away that this canyon was a winner! The scrambling was top- notch. Not ridiculous, yet challenging. Most of the eighteen hikers were excited to scramble ahead of the coordinators and Becky and Edwina were okay with that. We were just warned that when the canyon provided a fork to the left, we should take it.

At the fork, a faint trail took us up to the base of a dripping waterfall as seen in the first photo. Here, there is a cleared area lined by rocks ... work of a previous visitor. The trail led up to the left and zigzagged to the top of that waterfall. We climbed up and began enjoying the beauty of a terraced canyon. This section was short- lived but after waiting for more of our group to join us, we continued up through another great wash and found the upper section of the terraces. This section of the terraces was longer. In fact, the writer believes it may be longer than the famous Terrace Canyon found above Pine Creek.

 An old pinion pine grows in the cold canyon. It is found between the two sections of terraces. The water that flows down the sandstone creates tiny terraces or stair steps. Moss grows on the rock making some of the water slides slippery.

We enjoyed climbing the terraces until we hit a wall ... literally. We tried to climb the slippery wall. We tried to climb the rocks up to the right. We tried to climb up the trail to the left. Even though we are sure that it can be done, today we were satisfied with the distance travelled which, by the way, was only around two miles. Oh, but what a great two miles!!

We took our break at the wall while contem- plating the difficult descent down the boulder filled wash. A few hikers decided to take a head start and approached the descent with a cautious slow speed. The slow speed was heeded by the rest of the hikers and one by one, we made our way back down to Willow Springs.

As an overall review of this canyon, it was decided that Rattlesnake Canyon is a combination of Ice Box Canyon (short, cold and great scrambling) and Terrace Canyon (the end game is very much worth the effort). As a post script, although this canyon has been plagued by graffiti in the past, most of the graffiti has been cleaned up. Hopefully, it will stay clean as this is one of Red Rock's beautiful little gems.