Thursday, August 23, 2012

Harris Peak - 8/23/12

                                               Harris Peak

A very challenging 4.5 miles were trod by twelve determined hikers today. Sadly, Marbles, the dog, did not come out to play as we passed by her house. However, we began our climb up Rainbow Canyon ... and we climbed and we climbed. This small trail is very steep rising 1500 elevation feet over the course of only 1.25 miles. There was only one person on the hike that had not climbed this trail before and he was wishing it on his worst enemy by the time he got to the saddle!

We gathered at the saddle where we could see over to Lovell Canyon then turned left to hike along the Harris Springs Trail for only about 100 feet. Another left turn onto another small trail took us up along the ridge that climbed Harris Peak. This climb was just about as steep as Rainbow Canyon but, thankfully, shorter. It is easy to lose the trail on this part of the climb but we were warned that we would climb over the first hump, dip down a little, then begin climbing the real peak. We all made it to the top with help from the old timer. Many fossils lay all over the peak and we all wrote in the log book. The views are fantastic.

The descent was a conglomeration of success and confusion. A few of the hikers got off on the wrong direction as the small trail was difficult to find sometimes. When we began descending Rainbow Canyon, the torrents of rain that we received the day before came into play. The trail was muddy and slippery. We were as careful as we could be and if anyone sees the old timer up there wandering around, let us know.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cathedral Rock and Manhole Cover - 8/19/12

                                Cathedral Rock from approach trail.

                                Spot of sunlight on Charleston Peak.

 Very very early in the morning today, five insomniac hikers met for a pajama party hike up Cathedral Rock and over to the manhole cover. In spite of arriving at the trailhead at around 7:10am, the parking spaces were already almost filled. No doubt, these cars belonged to hikers who were halfway up the South Loop Trail heading to Charleston Peak.

First, we climbed to the top of Cathedral Rock and took in the beautiful morning view of Kyle Canyon and Mt. Charleston. From there, we hiked over to the manhole cover on a trail that turns off of the Cathedral Rock Trail at the bottom of the final rock climb.

The manhole cover trail is nicely flat and would be a pleasant extension to any Cathedral Rock hike. It is only an additional six tenths of a mile out and back and takes the hiker through a nice pine forest.

While two hikers returned from the manhole cover the way they came up, the remaining three hikers continued on. They were hoping to find the right route down past Little Falls and meet up with Echo Trail. We hope they made it down before 11:00am as that was when it appeared that the Spring Mountains, once again, got rain. (The monsoons seem very active this year.)

                                          The Manhole Cover

                  Manhole Cover trail with Cockscomb Peak in the background.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mary Jane Falls - 8/18/12

                                Columbine flowers at Mary Jane Falls.

                           Peering out from the cave near Mary Jane Falls.

 The Mary Jane Falls trail is perhaps the most recreationally used trail in the Spring Mountains NRA. It is located at the end of Kyle Canyon off of Echo Road and leads out from a newly renovated parking lot. Today, a Saturday, twenty-six hikers from the Around the Bend Friends were joined by many other hikers of all sizes and shapes including young short people (kids) and many four legged people (dogs). Liz was making her debut as a hike coordinator and she did a great job trying to keep up with our hikers who hiked at several different tempos.

 The hike up to the falls begins on an easy slope for almost a mile. Taking a right turn onto the adjacent hill, we then began switchbacking up to complete a climb in elevation of around 900 feet. The last switchback meets a wall of limestone and several steps are used on the trail to take the hiker the rest of the way up.

                                Interesting geologic formation above Big Falls.

During the climb on the switchbacks, the hiker can see across the canyon to the wall on the other side. In the vicinity of Big Falls, the limestone wall is fraught with interesting formations that occurred at the time this area was "built" many millions (or zillions) of years ago.

                                Trail along the wall nearing the falls.

 Upon reaching the large area where Mary Jane Falls flows down off of the cliffs above, we settled in for a snack break. There were many other hikers enjoying the rain free morning and there were about three areas where the falls wet the rock walls. Also prominent was an indentation or rock ledge between the flowing waters.

 Several hikers took an extra adventure over to the large cave found on around the wall curvature. There is a nice view out Kyle Canyon from the opening. As we sat enjoying our break, the rain clouds came moving in as if on queue. Time to hike back down to our cars. Only sprinkles touched our heads during the descent, however, looking back to the mountains as we drove into the garage, we saw that rain had engulfed the four miles we had just hiked.

                                The cave as seen from Mary Jane Falls.

                                     Heading back down the trail.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Brian's Mt. Charleston Training Finale - 8/15/12

                                North Loop Trail
 Jerry Thomas provided a great report and a few photos of the hike to Mt. Charleston Peak on Wednesday. Thanks, Jerry. And, great job everyone!

On August 15, 2012, eight hikers that had participated in Brian Dodd's training series showed up at Santa Fe Stations at 5:45am for the training series finale.  Two other non-participants got permission to tag along making a total of ten hikers.  The plan was to start up Trail Canyon to the North Loop Trail and onto the summit of Mount Charleston.  From their we would go down the South Loop Trail to the Cathedral Rock parking lot where we had positioned some vehicles to pick up the hikers.  When we got to the trail head their was a non-member who had gone on several other hikes with AtBF but did not participate in Brian's training series.  She asked if she could join us.  Brian, having no knowledge of the hikers abilities, declined but said it was a free country and if she wanted to hike on the same trail with us that was alright.  So we had one more hiker with us, who wasn't really with us (confusing isn't it?).  We started up Trail Canyon taking breaks every hour to allow everyone to catch up.  Brian was the last hiker making sure everyone was OK.  Everyone did a great job and we reached the summit at 11:30am.  We had our snack break, took the obligatory photos and started down. 

                                Summit Photo

Along the South Loop Trail there are several meadow areas where this author spotted four or five Mount Charleston butterflies.  When we reached the saddle on the South Loop Trail, two hikers expressed an interest to continue up to the summit of Griffith Peak.  They assured Brian that they could catch up with the group before they reached the parking lot.  Brian agreed and off they went to bag two peaks in one day!  After reaching Griffith Peak the two hikers started down the South Loop Trail and veered off on the old South Loop Trail to try to catch up with the group.  This strategy worked well and the two hikers actually passed several hikers before the old trail met up with the new trail.  Everybody reached the parking lot except one hiker.  The sweeper assured everyone that the last hiker was just coming down the trail.  Well, we waited several minutes and the last hiker didn't show up.  The sweeper went back up the trail to see what had happened.  The last hiker was finally located and made it back to the parking lot.  Everyone was very pleased to have accomplished their goals and Brian got many Thank You's as we got in our cars for the trip back.

                            South Loop Trail

        Elevation graph - Trail Cyn, North Lp, Charleston Pk, South Lp with Griffith Pk

                                This loop was accomplished in a counterclockwise direction.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Raintree via Trail Canyon - 8/16/12

           View from North Loop Trail between Raintree and Trail Canyon saddle.

                                Ridge view from Trail Canyon Trail.

 Ten tenacious hikers climbed Trail Canyon Trail for the second time this week. The objective of today's hike was Raintree which is found about a mile and a half on over the North Loop Trail from the Trail Canyon saddle junction. We climbed up Trail Canyon then regrouped at the saddle as seen in the photo to the left. From there, we continued across the saddle on the North Loop Trail.

                      Hiking North Loop with Mummy's Toe above.

                         Cockscomb Peak from the North Loop Trail.

 The trail, here, begins easily as it traverses laterally above the source of Fletcher Canyon. The views are large and fantastic of Cockscomb Ridge and Peak and Mummy's Toe, Knee and Thigh. Eventually, the trail climbs steeply to a large old tree found at the foot of Mummy's Foot! Arriving at Raintree, we took our break until we noticed rain clouds moving in.

                       Resting at 3000 year old bristlecone named "Raintree."

The ten hikers must have broken some sort of record getting down from Raintree all the way to the Trail Canyon trailhead! We just didn't care to get all wet! Anyway, on our way down we passed four horse and riders. Aren't they beautiful animals?

                          Raintree and Mummy's Toe escort in some rain clouds.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cockscomb Peak - 8/14/12

                                Cockscomb Peak from Cockscomb Ridge

 There were nine hikers who dared to attempt Cockscomb Peak today. We started early and the air temperature at the Trail Canyon trailhead was deliciously cool. As it turned out, there were many hikers on Trail Canyon Trail enjoying the cool and clear weather. We scampered up the trail trying to decrease our personal ascent time then sat for a break at the saddle.
 The half mile of Cockscomb Ridge went by quickly but it is difficult to ignore the beauty of the curving limestone cliffs and outcroppings. At the end of the ridge trail, we decided to leave our hiking sticks, keep our packs and drop down to the left side of the big rock in front of us. After dropping down on slippery surfaces, a rock face with a few ledges and chutes rose up to our right and a very steep slope covered in limestone gravel, boulders and a few trees dropped a couple of hundred feet to our left.

                                Hiking Cockscomb Ridge

                   Plunging down to circle and climb Cockscomb Peak.

 During the 3rd class scramble up the peak, two hikers were channeled by their absent spouses and decided to heed their pleas to stop the nonsense. Seven hikers went on to summit the rock as seen in the photo below. All descended at a more leisurely pace back to the cars. A tough hike. Short and sweet at 6 miles and 1900 elevation feet gained and lost.

                                The Summit Photo!