Monday, December 18, 2017

Season's Greetings from Cheryl and Jerry

Summerlin Peak

New Route up Summerlin Peak

A Rest with a View

The Crux of the Matter

Jerry Rock Climbing at Calico Hills

Cheryl Rock Climbing at Calico Hills

Saturday, December 16, 2017

River Mountain via Inner Caldera - 12/16/17

Highest Peak in River Mountains

Caldera Trail Approach to River Mountain

Inner Caldera Trail at Sunrise
Stratovolcano & Caldera of River Mountains (Eroded)

Most Difficult Bike Hill
 The River Mountain Range is an island of peaks located to the west of Lake Mead and the northwest of Boulder City, Nevada. This group of mountains moved away from the Wilson Range to the east. The River Mountains contain several small volcanic domes. The area in which we hiked today was part of an eroded central crater of the River Mountains stratovolcano. Therefore, it is safe to say that the Caldera Loop and the Inner Caldera Loop (bike trails located in the Bootleg Canyon Bike Park of Boulder City) are named for an actual volcano caldera. Eroded as it is, the caldera appears as a widespread sloping desert area with low surrounding mountains.

Low Point area of Hike - Inner Caldera Trail
 The trailhead for today's hike is located on the dirt portion of Canyon Road in Boulder City, Nevada. Approximately, 1.3 miles after you leave the zip line base and start driving on the dirt road, there is a parking area that you cannot see from your drivers' seat! Bear carefully to the left here and a road will lead you down to a large dirt area to park.

Another Bike Hill
 Eleven hikers exited four cars here. The Inner Caldera Trail can be accessed by hiking over to the left from the road.

Holey Rocks on Inner Caldera Trail

Hiking the Dirt Road to River Mountain across the Caldera
 Be careful to choose the correct trail. If you go too far from the parking area, you will connect with the Caldera Loop or the West Leg. Once hiking on the Inner Caldera, the most difficult of the bike hills is reached very soon. Negotiate this hill with care and begin a beautiful undulating hike toward the city view of Las Vegas. We came to the "bottom" of our hike where the terrain opened out. This is the "caldera" area. We followed a sign that indicated the Inner Caldera and passed a lot of holey rocky hillsides. Not much further and we came to a low wash crossing. This was our turn toward River Mountain.

Starting Up Power Pole Canyon
 We saw River Mountain rising up high and steep in the distance to the east. The wash changed into a couple of dirt roads and we took the road that curved slightly to the right heading straight for the highest mountain around.

Power Pole Saddle to Lake Mead
 About half a mile up the road, the Caldera Loop crosses. Here, we turned right and followed the trail until it junctioned with another dirt road.

View to North Side of Lake Mead from Peak Climb

Traverse on Peak Climb
 A left turn on this road, then join the first dirt road that is coming in from the left and we were beginning our climb up to the Power Pole Saddle. This road is maintained so that service workers can have access to the huge power poles in this canyon. It is a difficult climb up through the canyon but only a warm up! The group stayed together strongly and arrived at the saddle with a lake view ready for a break. ... Hmmm. Nope. The break is up the "hill" to the left! So, after a few sips of water, all but two hikers started the final ascent ... a steep buggar. The trail has gotten much more clear and we climbed up without unintentional mishaps. We climbed, traversed, and scrambled to the peak.

View Back to Ascent Ridge
 It was a chilly day. Temps in the 40's. But very little wind. So the stay on the peak didn't last much longer than it took us to eat a little and write in the log book. The sky was overcast so the views were obscured. It was still awesome!

Happy Chilly Campers
 As we got up to start our descent, lo and behold (good words for this time of year), there was a lime green Subaru Crosstrec climbing the service road up to the Power Pole Saddle!

A Subaru Crosstrec Arrives at Power Pole Saddle!

Peak Survey Marker
 We slowly made our descent and upon passing the driver of the car, we learned that he had had a long drive from "over there somewhere." Anyway, brave soul! We gathered at the saddle for one more group photo and returned to the Inner Caldera Trail the same way we had come from it earlier. The sky was slowly turning blue and we could see Las Vegas in the far distance. At the Inner Caldera Trail junction, we turned to the left so that the remainder of our hike would complete its loop.

Lava Butte from Peak
 The bike park was beginning to wake up and we started seeing bikers on the trail.

Starting the Steep Descent
 There were three times that we met up with one or more bikers and they were surprised to see us. Yep, it's winter and the hikers are invading Bootleg Canyon!

Eleven Hikers at Power Pole Saddle

Passing Bikers back on the Inner Caldera Trail
 The other half of the Inner Caldera Loop is more windy and twisty with a lot of small bike hills. During all this hiking, the views of the beautiful desert caldera kept us going. (Well, that and the fact that it was still 46 degrees!) The trail eventually brought us all the way back around to the parking area. This hike is challenging with a moderately strenuous to strenuous rating considering the peak ascent, gravel footing on the dirt roads and the many bike hills along the way. Nevertheless, it was a great morning ... as usual.

6 miles; 1250 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Inner Caldera Trail

City View from Trail

Up and Over as we neared the Cars

Friday, December 15, 2017

Boneshaker / Overlooks / Muffins - 12/14/17

Large Red Barrel Cactus in front of Calico Basin and Kraft Mountain

Calico Hills from Boneshaker Trail

New Las Vegas Overlook

Hiking out to Boneshaker Hill (R)
 It was a beautiful ugly day on the North Blue Diamond Hill in Red Rock Canyon NCA! The wind was blowing gusts of around 30 mph at times and the temperatures were the coolest of the season so far. But, the sky was blue, the sun was out and seventeen hikers were hiking in our beloved desert! We started out from the Cowboy Trails Trailhead on Highway 159 one mile south of Red Rock Canyon's Scenic Loop entrance. While we were preparing for the hike, Jackson, the resident stud burro, was braying with cold weather joy as he sensed our presence around the corner.

Starting the Boneshaker Climb
 By the time we hiked past him on our way to the horse corral, he had settled down. We noted that he has much larger digs now. Good for him! He's moving up in the world!

Wilson Cliffs from Boneshaker Hill
 We took the left turn to hike along the corral where all the horses and mules were watching our progress ... or eating and playing.

Hiker on Boneshaker Hill

Gathering at top of initial Boneshaker Hill
 Taking the trails that wound us on a pretty straight line toward the Muffins hill, we arrived at a right turn that headed straight up Boneshaker Hill. That's when the group started to separate a little. The hill is steep and it is a good wake-up call! But the strong group of hikers were not too far apart and we re-gathered at the top of this initial climb. This was just a warm-up and the remainder of the trail provided a steady climb good for heart and lungs. Our fourth pause for breathing, wardrobe change and water sipping was made at the Boneshaker sign. As we had gotten higher on the hill, the wind became stronger so our photo at the sign and lengthened pause got a bit chilly!

Climbing up Narrow part of Ridge between Canyons
 There are several trail junctions that are found in this area. We chose the trail that continued straight up the hill from the sign. Our climb continued.

Into the Sunrise on Boneshaker Trail
 The trail passes the radio tower apparatus that is fenced in on the hill. More solar panels and a cell antenna have been added since our last visit on this trail.

Gathering at Boneshaker Sign

Passing the Radio Tower
 Continuing up this trail, we passed a trail junction to the left that leads out to the Three Amigos Trail. Then we arrived at the cliff overlook dubbed the New Las Vegas Overlook. Boy, was it windy!! So, we took a photo and moved down the trail to the left where we had a little shelter to take our snack break. Next, we continued out this trail dubbed the Rim Trail or Overlook Ridge. We were hiking right on the edge of the cliff on a sturdy trail with beautiful views of the city and the Calico Hills. Finally, the trail dropped down to a ridge saddle where the "Old Las Vegas Overlook" resides. Somewhat tired of the wind, by now, we took our photo and waited for the last of the line of hikers then moved on down the SARS Trail in an attempt to find better weather.

Taking our Break out of the Wind
 We had intended to take the Muffins Trail that climbed up and over the hill and hiked along the ridge toward the Muffins.

Peering through the Cliffrock
 However, when we reached the junction, the wind was blowing in from the north and the better trail was the Muffins Trail that led around the side of the hill.

Following Rim Trail

Old Las Vegas Overlook
 We turned onto this trail and for a short period of time, we were out of the wind. It was a nice respite. But, soon, we had to expose ourselves again to the elements as we circled around and found the rim again. Normally an incredibly enjoyable trail, we were now ready to move faster through the wind. Our stop at the Muffins was short then we headed down the steep hill. A few hikers went on ahead but most of the seventeen stayed together on their downward journey. We found the other hikers waiting for us at the bottom of the hill with smiling faces!

Using SARS Trail to connect to the Muffins Trail
 The wind had started letting up a little on our descent. It was assumed that the wind would stop once we reached our cars! (Isn't that the way it works?)

Muffins Trail
 We paused for a small water break then began our hike back across the desert to the horse corral.

Approaching the Muffins from Above

Major Muffin
 Regardless of the wind, it was a beautiful day and the views were majestic. Smiles everywhere as we passed the horses who were now going on about their business with their heads to the wind ... except one mule who seemed especially interested in us. Wind is not a huge problem for desert hiking as long as you have a buff or scarf over your mouth and nose to ward off those wind cooties that cause sinus mayhem! Great group of hikers today!

6.5 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Starting down the Muffins Trail

Crossing a Wash on the Muffins Trail

Desert Crossing on Return to Cars