Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rainbow Loop - 6/28/12

                          Mt. Charleston from the Rainbow Loop Overlook.

 The Rainbow Loop Trail is a patchwork of mostly utility trails that encircle the mountain community of Rainbow in the Spring Mountains NRA. To access the loop, thirteen hikers parked at the Fletcher Canyon trail parking, hiked up the highway past the Visitor's Center, continued through the campground and followed alongside the Kyle Canyon drainage ditch.

 Already a mile into the hike, we passed Rainbow and continued up on a well used trail with no name. When there was a trail turning off to the left (uphill), we turned and began climbing up through the aspen trees and past the Cathedral Rock picnic area to our right. There were many signs warning hikers to not cross into the picnic area as construction there was ongoing and there is a considerable fine for disobeying.

                The ladies decided that the shelter needed some house cleaning.

 There is a shelter built on this part of the trail that remains there year after year. Soon after the shelter, we junctioned with the South Loop Trail. Mummy's Toe could be seen across Kyle Canyon and wildflowers could still be seen along the path although they were not as brilliant as last week. As we switchbacked up to our turnoff, we were overtaken by a line of uniformed men from the Spring Mountain Youth Camp. They were on their way to work on the "steps" portion of the South Loop Trail. (We requested an escalator.)

                                Hiking up the old unusable dirt road.

 Just before the "steps," we turned to our left on an old dirt road that is no longer being used. This short segment brought us up to the high point of the hike where we took our break and enjoyed an expansive view of Mt. Charleston. The next part of the hike took a right down the hill through the woods on a small soft dirt trail. Last year (2011), this trail was wiped out with fallen trees over the winter. Then, last fall, a group of our club members took a few small saws up to the trail and worked all day. This year, the trail has been flattened and used so that the direction is clear and enjoyable again.

 From the small woodland trail, we entered into the cabin area located above Rainbow. The cabin in the photo below is probably the oldest. Following the dirt road down to the paved road, we found the drainage trail on which we had made our approach. Then, we returned to the cars. The temperatures had been warm but the pleasant views and even more pleasant company had been warmer.

                                Old cabin above the Rainbow community.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mummy's Nose via Lee Canyon Highway - 6/26/12

                             Mummy's Nose from the North Loop Trail.

 Lawdy Me!! Twelve hikers arrived at the chain up area on Lee Canyon Highway in the Spring Mountains NRA with intent to make an assault on Mummy's Nose. The climb and descent would take every bit of our energy and strength over four miles with 2800 elevation feet gained and lost. For the writer, this was easily the most difficult hike she has ever completed. Judging by the faces and laughter of the other hikers, it was surmised that that was the consensus.

 We began by hiking up the highway to the dirt road that takes off to the left. A short ways up the road, we took a turn to our left ... up. This was the end of a wash that would become the crux of the hike. We climbed along the side of the wash until we crossed over to junction with a trail that led up and above on the right side of the wash. At the junction, we gathered for a small rest. We continued climbing until the trail dove down into the wash again.

                                Looking  back down the ridge trail.

                                Ascending the wash to the saddle.

 The wash was rocky and very steep. The group quickly separated into two sub groups. Over the next three quarters of a mile, we scrambled, caught our breath and scrambled some more. It became very slippery in many sections. We passed by the base of the mountain wall to the right and continued up. The closer we got to the saddle, the steeper the trail became. Nevertheless, we had, by then, entered into a beautiful world of bristlecones, limestone and outstanding views.

                                Don and Lettie approaching the saddle.

                                View from the saddle.

 Finally, we reached the saddle where the faster hikers awaited us. We took a break while we waited on a final hiker who had fallen behind. While we sat and laughed at our exertion, Lettie tried her hand at climbing the yellow rope that led up the wall to our right. This was a rope for another day! Today's trail led up to the left and we were now beginning the final peak approach.

                             Lettie finds the energy to joke around!

                         View down to Deer Creek Hwy from the peak approach.

 The peak approach began with a Class 3 scramble up a limestone crack. We made easy work of the fun and followed a cliff ledge around to the right. This took us to a trail that followed the peak ridge all the way up. There was not much room for error so we were all very careful during this section. The area surrounding the peak was covered with cliffs and large scree, albeit several trees that might serve to catch a fall!

                        View of the remaining Mummy Mountain from the Nose.

                                Eleven hikers try to not slide off the peak!

 We were finally able to say we made it! The peak area was small and a bit scary even for those that don't normally have exposure issues. The views were incredible! Mummy Mountain, Lee Canyon, Deer Creek, the North Loop Trail. Two hikers stepped off the peak to admire the cliff below. Geez, Louise! Anyway, a quick snack in the harsh wind and we were on our way back down.

                             Carefully descending the peak area.

                                Class 3 scramble off of the peak area.

 We reached the saddle and the "fun" had only just begun! Now came the steep wash. We began by sliding down the loose dirt to the right side of the wash. We took this approach to the descent until we had to give in and enter the rocky wash about half way. The scramble down just kept coming. All energies were used to avoid injury as the limestone was slippery from yearly ice melt. Although it seemed like forever, we finally came to the trail that led up out of the wash to the ridge where we gathered once again.

 From there, we continued our steep descent on the trail but this time, we stayed on the same side of the wash du jour. Several cairns were marking this trail. Perhaps it would have been a slightly easier way up. We gathered one last time at the dirt road. Most of the hikers continued descending straight down the hill to the cars. Three hikers had had enough and chose to take the dirt road back to Lee Canyon Highway. After about five hours, all hikers were accounted for as we slowly climbed into our cars!

                             View from the ridge trail up to the saddle.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fletcher Canyon Dog Hike - 6/23/12

                          The Las Vegas Cockapoo (GG) discovers Fletcher Canyon.

 GG, the Las Vegas Cockapoo, and Supai, the Blue Diamond Explorer, joined three club hikers for an adventure into Fletcher Canyon today. Since our normally scheduled hikes do not allow our canine friends, club members occasionally schedule hikes specifically for the hikers with 4WD. We got out early on the trail while the temperatures were still pretty cool. GG and Supai excitedly pulled their leashes for the first mile. Supai is a veteran hiker who frequently enjoys Red Rock hiking and has not been on many Mt. Charleston trails. GG is a novice who has not learned how to pace herself on the trail. Each dog supported the other and were able to complete the four miles with only a little encouragement.

                                Supai leads Jean up the trail.

                                Angelica blooms in the canyon.

 It was a beautiful day in the canyon today. Jean was impressed with the jumbled geology between the walls. In the photo to the left, she points out a fault in the limestone feeling that the rock is smooth where the rocks slid against each other. She also described where there were "ripples" on the surface of the rock as being made by water that drips down the rock which has formulated a mild acid or calcite that cuts into the rock surface. We had the Obstacle Rock area all to ourselves for the time we were there. As we hiked back to the cars, many other hikers were on their way up. A very enjoyable morning with our four legged friends.

                                GG and Supai have become fast friends.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Club Member's Havasupai Trip - 6/16/12

Jerry Thomas, a member of our club, made a trip down to Havasu Falls over the weekend. He sent me this report as follows:

  I backpacked from the Hilltop down to the campground 10.4 miles on Friday with about 50 lbs on my back.  That wasn't too hard because I was going downhill.  Coming back on Sunday morning was hard.  I woke up at 3:45, packed up and hit the trail at 5am.  I walked up to my car at 9:30am after 10.4 miles and 2,400 ft elevation gain with a very heavy backpack!  Anyway, if you haven't been there you should go.  Its one of the most beautiful places on earth.

P.S. You don't have to backpack to the campground.  You can have your luggage taken down by mule and you can hike or take a helicopter ride down.

Nice photos, Jerry! Thanks. I know you were worried about the heat but getting up at 4am probably helped. I can see why you skipped Griffith Peak yesterday!