Monday, May 30, 2016

Stepladder / Showgirl Loop - 5/30/16

Cliffrose (foreground) - Charleston Peak (background)

Stepladder Peak from Showgirl Trail

View from Stepladder Trail

Climbing Stepladder Trail
 It was a women's day in the Spring Mountains NRA as four hikers arrived at the Traffic Circle Trailhead across Kyle Canyon Road from the new Visitor Center this morning. Because of the expected heat, the hike was moved up canyon where the temperatures would be about 7 degrees cooler. We started up the feeder trail at the end of the parking lot and turned left onto the Stepladder Trail for our wake up climb. Much of the trail was still in the shade and our climb of almost 700 elevation feet in 1.3 miles was very pleasant.

View ahead on Stepladder Trail
 The hard work of the morning was out of the way when we reached the saddle junction.

Arriving at Saddle Junction
 There was a new trail we had not explored on the other side of the saddle and down we went.

Bottom of Steep Bike Trail

Starting Out Showgirl Trail
 This trail is very steep and probably gives young bikers quite a thrill! We weren't really thrilled. Anyway, at the bottom, we connected with Tin Can Alley and turned to the left. Hiking up to our next junction, we passed the preferred trail to connect the saddle junction with Tin Can Alley. Next time. Anyway, we hiked a short way up next to Telephone Canyon Road and found the crossing onto the Showgirl Trail. We had been in the shade from the earlier saddle junction.

Showgirl Trail
 Quickly, we passed over a large scree rock slide as seen in one of the photos above. Views of Stepladder Peak were ahead to our right.

Showgirl Trail
 We climbed a gentle continuous slope until we came to a limestone rock wall on our left. Here, there was still a bit of shade so we sat on the sharp rocks for our break.

AtBF Canyon from Showgirl Trail

New Bridge on Showgirl Trail
 After the break, we continued along the Showgirl Trail as it began to descend. The trail circled around the last ridge to our left then started switchbacking at the AtBF Canyon below us. We descended the gentle switchbacks on a small ridge that extends out from the higher ridge behind us. Finally, the trail drops into the mouth of AtBF Canyon and continues around the base of the next ridge. We had lost most of the shade that was aiding us so our speed picked up on the flatish trail.

La Madre Mountain Range from Showgirl Trail
 The trail winds in and out along the arroyos of the hill above then we spotted the Forest Road that drops down to the BLM Fire Station.

Steep Forest Road
 There is a very nice shortcut from the Showgirl Trail to the Forest Road which we took. Then we took on the challenge of the steep rocky road. After the fire station, we turned to the right and caught the beginning of Tin Can Alley to the right.

Climbing Tin Can Alley

Charleston Peak from Tin Can Alley
 Tin Can Alley climbs in a winding fashion then we found the unmarked spur trail turning back to our left. This trail led us to a crossing of Telephone Canyon Road where we caught a spur to Shady Hollow Trail. Finally, the Shady Hollow Trail took us back to the feeder trail and the cars. The clouds had come in to cover us near the end of the hike so we ended on a cool note. Very nice route.

7 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Starting Down Spur Trail

Spur Trail Crosses Telephone Canyon Road

Finishing on the Shady Hollow Trail

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Stepladder Peak Loop - 5/29/16

Eastern View from Stepladder Peak

Stepladder Peak on Approach

Western View from Stepladder Peak

Hiking Up Shady Hollow Trail
 An enthusiastic small group of five hikers drove up Kyle Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains NRA for a hike around the Stepladder Peak Loop. This is a new hike for the club and has only been done once before. We began at the trailhead located on the right side of the traffic circle across from the new Visitor Center. Our trail started at the end of the parking lot that is opposite to the restrooms. The feeder trail took us up to the Shady Hollow Trail and we turned to the right.

Shady Hollow / Tin Can Alley Trails
 Not far along the trail, we came across part of a fresh kill of a deer. The leg was laying right in the middle of the trail.

Taking a Break in Tin Can Alley
 We followed the Shady Hollow Trail around until it combined with the Tin Can Alley Trail. From there, we followed the Tin Can Alley Trail into the woods along Telephone Canyon Road.

Tin Can Tree

Switchbacking Up to High Point
 We had to step aside several times for mountain bikers zooming down from the Robbers' Roost area. Our trail passed the tree that is decorated with the old tin cans then began switchbacking gently up the hill to our left. We finally found a forked trail junction which we knew to be our high point of the day. We took a sharp turn to the left and started moving back in the direction of the trailhead.

High Point Fork
 There were many large piles of debris lying around this area. Either the fire department is clearing the undergrowth or they are working on the trails in this area.

Return Direction
 As we moved along this trail, we got very close to Deer Creek Road which was just above our heads on the right side.

Small Break on Old Deer Creek Road

This section is much better.
 One particular part of the trail should be noted that it has been improved. Before, the trail was desperately trying to fall off the steep hillside. Now, the trail has been rebuilt and is much safer as seen in the photo to the left. After hiking on a short section of the old Deer Creek Road, we found the junction with the Stepladder Trail. It turns to the right. Shady Hollow turns to the left. And, an old faint trail led up the ridge in front of us to Stepladder Peak.

Following the Old Trail up to Stepladder Peak
 The old trail fades in and out but, essentially, it follows the ridge (except for a detour around a manzanita grove at a saddle) all the way to the highest point, Stepladder Peak.

Griffith Peak from Stepladder Peak Approach
 The views from this peak are unique to the Kyle Canyon area as seen in the photos at the beginning of this entry.


Starting Descent on Scree Slope
 After the peak, the route loses any sort of trail that we could find. We continued straight along the ridge and dropped down a steep scree slope. At the next saddle, we found what might be another very faint trail but, really, we ended up bushwhacking down another steep slope to the Stepladder Trail below. During our descent, there was a swarm of rescue activity in Kyle Canyon; four police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and a helicopter. Our curiosity remains unanswered.

7 miles; 1450 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Various Flowers seen Today

Scree Slope gets Steeper

A lot of Rescue Activity at Spring Mountains Visitor Center

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cockscomb Ridge - 5/28/16

Cockscomb Ridge

Cockscomb Ridge

Cockscomb Ridge

Climbing Trail Canyon
 The second training hike for an upcoming moderate hike to Mt. Charleston Peak was held today with a destination of Cockscomb Ridge. Twenty-one hikers took the bait. About half of the hikers were either moderately strenuous or strenuous hikers that needed a "run" up Trail Canyon to start their season in the higher elevations. The stronger hikers went on ahead agreeing to stop and wait at the Trail Canyon / North Loop saddle. The other half were moderate hikers who stayed with the coordinator for most of the climb up.

We tried to set a pace that we could hang with from beginning to end without more than one or two stops ... still working into summer mountain season. This moderate pace kept us going until just before the halfway point where we had to take our first break.

Trail Canyon Trail
 The second break had to be taken just before the second set of switchbacks started. (Yeah, the "dip.")

Still Climbing
 A small break was taken soon after that to point out and name a few of the surrounding peaks. Cockscomb Ridge rose across from us here and it appeared to be so close!

Cockscomb Ridge from Trail Canyon

Fletcher Canyon from Cockscomb Ridge
 When the moderate hikers reached the saddle, the stronger hikers were waiting along with another very large group of younger folk. We took just a moment to catch our breaths and count the hikers in our group. Then, we turned to the right to hike out Cockscomb Ridge. The first overlook came immediately as we stood on the rock cliff and peered down into Fletcher Canyon. To our left, Mummy's Toe rose stolidly. And, across the canyon was Fletcher Peak, recognized by the rock scars covering the upper portion of the small peak.

Mummy's Toe from Cockscomb Ridge
 On the opposite side of the overlook, we saw Charleston Peak through the trees. It was still covered with snow by around 35%. As the valley temperatures reach into the 100's in the next few days, this snow will mostly disappear.

Climbing Cockscomb Ridge
 We left the overlook and followed a trail out the ridge passing a large campsite. The trail dropped then began to climb as we neared the knife edge portion.

The Knife Edge on Cockscomb Ridge

The Woods of the Trail
 All twenty-one hikers followed in a long line on the knife edge with the very steep scree on their left side. The other side was steep, too, but there were a few trees there to break a fall from any possible missteps. The trail continued to climb until we reached the wooded part of the ridge where the first, and smaller, cockscomb rock rose to our left. We made our way past this rock, ducked under a fallen tree, straddle-crossed another large fallen tree, then found the Cockscomb Peak trail junction to our left just before we made a final climb up to the base of the large peak in front of us.

Under the Log then Over the Log
 The entire ridge loans itself to outstanding photographic scenery above Kyle Canyon in the Spring Mountains NRA.

Turnaround Point at Base of Cockscomb Peak
 We enjoyed the views as we took our extended break but the wind picked up reminding us of the slight chance of thunderstorms in the forecast.

Trail Junction for Cockscomb Peak - Fletcher Canyon Beyond

Starting Down - Watch your head!
 We returned the way we came while the clouds began closing in. Again, the group separated into two strengths. Everyone waited at the saddle before diving down Trail Canyon. The front group moved quickly while the back group moved along with care. The 3 hours in the statistics were calculated from the movements of the moderate group. In the end, this hike is exactly 5.5 miles!

5.5 miles; 1800 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Mt. Charleston from Cockscomb Ridge

Starting Down Trail Canyon

Nearing Trail Canyon Trailhead