Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Devil's Thumb / Lee Peak - 5/28/13

Taking a Break at the Base of Devil's Thumbnail
 Today's hike was truly a Super Tuesday hike as Mike OC shepherded the group up Trail Canyon then onward up the North Loop Trail to the end of a ridge below Mt. Charleston Peak that is called the Devil's Thumb. At the end of this ridge is a large rock outcropping that is affectionately called the Devil's Thumbnail. Here is where the main lunch break occurred. After the break, most of the group bagged Lee Peak on the way back. Mike OC sent these photos and wrote a few words about the day as written below.

Lee Peak Summit Photo Showing Ski Slopes Below
We had a baker's dozen show up for the big Tuesday trek to Devil's Thumb (11,017') & Lee Peak (11,318').  Absolutely perfect weather with a nice cloud cover and a cool breeze.  Twelve made it to the Thumb and nine set foot on Lee Peak a short time later.  This was the prep for the big one (think Charleston Peak) in three weeks time.  Some of the gang actually wanted to go to Charleston Summit today!  Tough to rein these wild horses in!

Twas a long day in the saddle as the crew logged 14 miles & 4200 feet of vertical in 6 1/2 hours. MOC

Today's Hikers at the Mummy Mountain Overlook

Monday, May 27, 2013

New Cathedral Rock Parking (Updated) - 6/23/13

Cathedral Rock Towers Over New Parking
An article in the paper recently said that there were 60 parking places now open for the Cathedral Rock trailhead area. There are numbers painted on the spaces and it makes one wonder if these will eventually cost a fee to park in. But, not yet. The writer visited this new parking lot and trailheads today. (6/23/13). The parking lot is beautiful and there are six toilets (4 that flush) offered. Both the South Loop and the Cathedral Rock trails begin here at the same place. The turn off for Cathedral Rock is to the right shortly after beginning the hike. The South Loop Trail continues straight in much the same route that it did before the construction.

Note: Do not park in the spaces in front of the fancy brick walls to the right just as you enter the area! These spaces are for the park rangers. Perhaps they will post a sign soon.

To get to the new parking, continue past the old Cathedral Rock parking area (that doesn't exist anymore!) and turn to the right up the hill.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

South Sister - 5/26/13

South Sister from the Bristlecone Trail

 Mike OC and gang climbed South Sister today. Mike sent the photos to the left and below showing a view of Mt. Charleston from the South Sister peak and a summit photo. We always suspected that Mike C. was part mountain goat. (Note the antlers growing from his head.)

Nice outing today.  Even had a couple new ladies join us.  Nine of the twelve hikers were 'South Sister virgins.'  New peak, big smiles.
The South Sister hike is 5 miles with 2000 feet of elevation gain.
South Sister Team

Detour Used Today Due to Picnic Area Construction in Pink

Cockscomb Peak Exploratory - 5/25/13

 While ten hikers were exploring down at the Lee Canyon Narrows and an unknown multitude were hiking the Upper Kyle Canyon Drainage with Chris, four adventurous hikers were exploring Cockscomb Peak and variations thereof. Mike OC, Steve and Becky, and Laszlo started out at the Echo parking area and did the climb up Trail Canyon. At the saddle, they turned right to head out Cockscomb Ridge. This is where Laszlo's and Mike's photos begin. Mike offers a few words about the hike below:

 An astonishing 50% of the group were first-timers today--Becky & Lasz.  They were both excited to set foot on a new peak.  On the ascent, we took Becky up a really tough section.  It wasn't until our descent that we discovered a less exposed route.  We did a loop route and the descent from Cockscomb Ridge proved to be extremely steep.  We wound up intersecting Trail Canyon about 1.2 miles from the trailhead. Just under five miles with 2.1k (2100 ft) of vertical. The plan is to schedule this one again in August as a club hike.

Thanks for your contributions Mike and Laszlo.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lee Canyon / Mark's Ridge Loop Exploration - 5/25/13

Lee Canyon Wash

Beginning of Lee Canyon Narrows

 Pre-warned that the early Saturday hike would be an exploration into the unknown, ten hardy hikers showed up and traveled out to the Deer Creek Highway & Champion Canyon Road intersection where we parked. We began hiking down Deer Creek Hwy. fifty feet then dropped down into the wash of Lee Canyon below. It was an extremely pleasant cool morning and we hiked down the wash quickly. At about a mile, we crossed Champion Canyon Road and continued down until we arrived at the Classic Cars portion of the hike. Here, we examined the old rusted cars and took a few fun photos.

Classic Cars

Looking Down & Looking Up in Narrows

 Not far after the cars, we came to the Lee Canyon Narrows which is a place where the wash falls into a rock walled crevice. The entrance from the top down was tried but not conquered and the remaining hikers took the trail up and around to come into the narrows from the bottom end. We examined the rock walls complete with ledge seating then moved on down the wash passing a huge cairn that marks the trail that bypasses the narrows.

Small Tree Grows Out of Rock in Narrows

Blooming Claret Cup Cactus

 Our intention, today, was to find a reasonable extension to the normally short Lee Canyon Narrows hike so we continued hiking at a decent pace down the wash that was navigable through the trees and brush. We watched the ridge up to our right as it slowly began dipping down to wash level. Eventually, we wanted to either go up on that ridge or hike around it to the canyon beyond. After three hikers got impatient and decided to climb the ridge early, the seven hikers that were left found a place to surmount the ridge down canyon about a quarter mile.

Mummy's Nose from Mark's Ridge

Cactus Twins

 We climbed a steep slope up to the top of the ridge and had our snack break. From there, we decided to hike the ridge back in the direction of our cars. There was a lot of zigzagging because of brush but there was more and more evidence of wild horses and elk having been in the area. Unfortunately, we never saw any big wildlife before we resorted to blowing our whistle to try and locate the other three hikers. (They were also blowing their whistle but neither of us could hear each other.) So, we never met up with the three capable hikers and we found a horse trail that led down a steep slope back to Lee Canyon right at the narrows.

Three Huge Cairns Marking Trail Across Wash Below Narrows

Up and Around Trail Next to Narrows

 At the wash, we saw three huge cairns marking the trail across the wash to the up and around trail. Interesting. On one cairn, there was a very faded sign. We think it might have said "Mark's Ridge" or something close to that so that's why we named our newly explored ridge "Mark's Ridge." Anyway, from there, we took the trail and wash up to the Champion Canyon Road junction then split up again as three groups had different ideas as to which way they wanted to head back to the cars. When we all got back to the cars (at the same time), it wasn't five minutes when the group of three hikers came hiking down the road with an adventure to talk about all their own! Just over six miles and only 1200 feet of elevation gain for this mostly moderate exploration. And, fun was had by all!

Hiking Up the Wash

Champion Canyon Road Junction

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Raintree via North Loop - 5/23/13

Old Bristlecone in North Loop Meadows

Mummy's Toe from North Loop

 Twenty-two hikers arrived this morning for a trip up to Raintree via the North Loop Trail in the Spring Mountains NRA. We drove in carpools up Kyle Canyon then Deer Creek Highways and got out at the trailhead located on the left side of the road just past the Hilltop Campground. With Steve A. at the helm, we were instructed to meet again at the meadow of the North Loop just before the twelve switchbacks up to the high point. We had a few different speeds of hikers climbing the hill so the first hikers had to wait a while. Plus, there were three hikers that decided to get to the meadow by way of Wild Horse Canyon, a canyon located adjacent to the North Loop ascent.

View from North Loop to Desert Below

Maria Climbs North Loop Switchbacks

 There was a cool breeze blowing past the meadow so a few people then a few more then finally the last hikers began hiking the twelve switchbacks up to the ridge. Again, we gathered at the high point switchback and began filtering down the ridge to Raintree, an old bristlecone tree that is estimated to be around 3000 years old. Situated on a saddle at the base of Mummy's Toe Peak, the tree has been protected from the worst of the weather all of that time. Nevertheless, as we sat down for our break, windbreakers came out of packs. A bit chilly, it was.

Mummy's Nose Behind Old Meadows Bristlecone

Leaving the High Point Toward Raintree

 The entire group of twenty-two were quite separated and just when the last group arrived at Raintree, the first group began hiking back down the mountain. With much conversation going on, the whole hike seemed to carry on quickly. With 5 miles and 1828 feet of elevation gain, the hike is a gentle challenge. And, even with the smoke filled valley below, the air was fresh and clear in the mountains.

Raintree Roots

Maria Leads the Pack Down Through the Meadow