Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Showgirl Trail (Original) - Top to Bottom - 9/24/18

Lower Showgirl Trail 

La Madre Range from Top of The Dive

Autumn Color on Mummy Mountain (near Juniper TH)

Starting Fresh on Upper Showgirl
 In the spring of 2015, the National Forest Service opened the Spring Mountains Gateway Visitor Center. With that opening, they gave out a map of trails, some of which were low elevation trails that we were not familiar with. One of those trails was the Showgirl Trail. The brown line ran from a new trailhead, called the Juniper Trailhead, 9 miles down to a new trailhead (complete with highway tunnel by-thru) that they didn't name and still does not have a sign. We call it the Lower Showgirl Trailhead. This trailhead is located just inside the Carpenter One fire boundary but they have removed the sign asking hikers and bikers to not park there. For a while, we parked on the roadside but it is safer to park just up the short trailhead road away from the busy Kyle Canyon Road. This trailhead is located 14 miles up from Highway 95 on the left (south) side. Now, only the sign that warns of the burn area still remains at the trailhead entrance. Thank you Forest Service.

Shaded Trail

First Left Turn Junction

Hiking "around" Angel Peak Views

Beginning of Gentle Descent
 Today, getting to the Juniper Trailhead for seven hikers was a test of patience. After dropping off one car at the Lower Showgirl TH, we waited approximately 15 minutes at the Kyle/Deer Creek junction for road work crews the allow us to turn right. Thankfully, all this work was wrapped up before we had to shuttle cars at the end of the hike. We turned right near the top of the hill (Hilltop Campground), veered to the right again, then arrived at today's trailhead around 9:00am. There was no grumbling. We all had planned for a long day anyway. It would be a warm day but it would also be a slightly breezy day. Cool breezes! Lucious cool breezes! After preparations, we started down the Upper Showgirl Trail.

Harris Peak view from Gentle Descent

Hiking into a Wooded Wash Area

Small Cliff with Telephone Canyon Overlook

Harris Peak View from Gentle Descent
 The brown line on that map showed that the Showgirl Trail headed straight over the ridge line and down the end of the ridge. While exploring this new trail, we found that the trail, while new and gorgeously among the trees, had no finish that we could find! Somewhere, we were missing the final descent to the middle portion of the trail. Apparently, this was a common complaint and the Forest Service simply removed the trail from the maps ... instead of improving the trail or making signs. Over the next 2 years, we simply used known trails (like the Trough Trail and Tin Can Alley) to get ourselves from the ridge line, down the side of the mountain and around to the junction point that we were expecting. (See previous Showgirl Trail and Missing Link blogs for further explanation.)

Arriving at Little Bald Knoll (Top of Steeper Descent)

View down into Angel Canyon Narrows

Nearing The Dive

Full Concentration during The Dive
 During the past year, the bikers have solved the problem of the Missing Link by making the last steep descent clear. We call it The Dive! It is very steep and somewhat slippery but still negotiable for us mere hikers .... Also, very steep and adrenaline rushy for brave bikers! At any rate, the more experienced hikers and bikers take it in stride ... (pun). After working our way down the ridge line and over Little Bald Knoll, we carefully and slowly hiked down The Dive ending at the trail that Google Earth now names the Showgirl Trail. So, what is the name of the trail that we came down on? I call it the Original Showgirl Trail! We turned to the left on the Showgirl Trail and soon found some shade and low lying logs to sit on for a break. We were 5 miles into the hike and still comfortable.

Autumn Color in Kyle Canyon (Harris [L] & Griffith [R] Peaks)

John works his way down The Dive.

Taking a Break in the Shade after The Dive

Middle Showgirl Trail on Trailing Ridge
 At the junction, we had entered the Middle Showgirl Trail. This part of the trail zigzags down a small trailing ridge that extends between Angel Canyon and Telephone Canyon. Finally, we dropped into the Angel Canyon side and began crossing its mouth wash. Hmmm. Mouthwash? Anyway, the trail circles around the following ridge and runs alongside the wash on the north side of Kyle Canyon Road that is created by Angel Canyon and Telephone Canyon both. Eventually, Showgirl climbs out of the wash and into a somewhat higher elevation that takes you along a winding route in and out of ravines and arroyos. Even though this seems like a circuitous way to get from point A to point B, the scenery is beautiful in an Upper Sonoran Desert terrain sort of way and provides a lot of hiking, if that's what you came for. I would think that it would be a good trail running trail as well.

Circling around the Ridge Corner

Hiking the Lower Showgirl Trail

One of Several Large Groupings of Joshua Trees

Pain Alleviated!
 Around the 6 mile mark or the 6000 foot elevations, Joshua Trees begin appearing more and more. The interesting thing about this is that several of them grow in large clumps here. After they show up, we crossed the Wooden Pole Powerline Road, a forest road that comes from the BLM fire station site and runs atop a ridge leading to Angel Peak. Having hiked that road one time, I can attest to the fact that it is a terrible road for hiking; very rocky and steep in some sections. (You could use it to climb Angel Peak only if you are into masochism.) After the road, the clumps of Joshua Trees begin appearing more often. In fact, there is one wall of Joshuas along the trail here.

Crossing the Wooden Pole Powerline Forest Road

Group Photo at the Wall of Joshuas

Charleston Peak from Lower Showgirl Trail

View down Kyle Canyon just before Last Drop
 We continued a few more zigzags as we neared the 8th mile marker. Next, we were starting a drop into a wash that provided a different surrounding. The trail doesn't stay in the wash long before we rounded a corner and saw Kyle Canyon Road. A hike under the bridge put us on the other side. We circled around to the road again where our shuttle car was parked. This was a great hike with great hikers that enjoyed their day! That's it for another year! God willing.

9 miles; +400 feet elevation gain; -2650 feet elevation loss; 4.5 hours

Still Hiking Strong!

Presenting our Next Club President, John!

The Tunnel at Lower Showgirl Trailhead (Graffiti Photoshopped Out)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Stepladder / Showgirl Loop (Short) - 9/22/18

South Ridge of Charleston Peak from Stepladder Trail

Showgirl Trail

View up Kyle Canyon

Climbing Stepladder Trail
There is a maze of trails located in Kyle Canyon across the road from the Spring Mountains Gateway Visitor Center in and among Telephone Canyon. They began as equestrian trails, however, now most of the trails are well used bike trails and horses are seldom seen. Thirteen hikers hiked a 5.8 mile loop this morning and did not pass a single biker. We must admit this is unusual. At any rate, we started at the Stepladder Trailhead; the trailhead reached by taking a sharp right at the Kyle Canyon traffic circle when heading up. There is a restroom there that is usually pretty clean.

Mississippian Monte Cristo Limestone (gray limestone)
At the far end of the parking lot, the Stepladder Trail starts up via a feeder trail. Soon, the trail divides into the Shady Hollow Trail (right) and the Stepladder Trail (left). We turned left.

Stepladder Trail
This section of the Stepladder Trail is a very good climb for beginning a hike. A large part of the elevation gain is accomplished between the feeder trail and the saddle at the base of Stepladder Peak that rises to the right.

Descending the Shady Hollow Trail

Old Juniper Tree
The large limestone ridge seen across Deer Creek Road is along the Fletcher Peak ridge but that small peak is hidden behind the visible rock. Below this ridge is an old burn area. This fire was started by a dump truck accident. (The breaks went out.) Today, the burn area was covered in brush that is turning yellow by the arrival of autumn. The group consisted of strong moderate hikers and we climbed consistently with a few stops in the shade. By the time we reached the saddle, we were happy to start downhill for a while. At the saddle, a right turn leads to Stepladder Peak. A left turn continues on the Stepladder Loop. The more or less straight direction put us on the Cowboy Washington Trail that we followed until a trail came up that veered to the right.

Tin Can Alley Trail
This trail is the other end of the Shady Hollow Trail. It took us gently down to the bottom of the small canyon via beautifully cut switchbacks.

Starting on Showgirl Trail
This trail joined the Tin Can Alley Trail at the bottom. The Shady Hollow and Tin Can Alley Trails are one in the same for a short stint in this area. But, we made a left turn here that took us off the Shady Hollow Trail and put us on Tin Can Alley alone.

Taking a Break on Showgirl Trail

Stepladder Peak from Showgirl Trail
Soon after passing a few rusted tin cans hanging in the trees, we came to a large junction at Telephone Canyon Road. From previous experience the unsigned trail posts told us that this is where the Showgirl Trail starts across the dirt road. This trail is a major thoroughfare for bikers and we were on alert. Before getting out of the trees, we stopped for a break making do with rocks, logs and steep banks to sit on (or not sit on!). From there, the trail moves into the sunshine and continues down a trailing ridge to a large wash junction emanating from Angel Canyon. We were very disappointed to find that the bridge that someone had built across a short deep part of the wash is gone. Just gone. We had to negotiate the steep down and up with a bit of energy!

Descending a Trailing Ridge
After this, the trail flattens out into an area very near a wide open wash. Still not sure of the use trails to get to where we wanted to go, we did a little bushwhacking to get across the wash and climb a small trail up the hill.

Dropping into the Mouth of Angel Canyon
After today, I have a couple of other ideas on how to smooth out this section. Anyway, we climbed the hill and connected with the bottom section of Tin Can Alley ... as noted by the various and sundry rusted tin cans hanging on branches and scattered about the desert terrain.

The Bridge is Gone!

Back on Tin Can Alley Trail
Where Tin Can Alley crosses Telephone Canyon Road (see photo below), there is a nearby junction of Shady Hollow. We turned to the left here and started our home stretch. A small part of the elevation gain is, unfortunately, located in the last half mile. It's a strong finish back to the feeder trail leading to the parking lot. A good nap might be on tap for the afternoon! Good hike. Good workout. Good people. Good temperatures. Good conversation. Good views. (Oh, and the Smokey the Bear statues are located on the police substation lot!)

6 miles; 1050 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Crossing Telephone Canyon Road at Tin Can Alley

Shady Hollow Trail

Yep. We're done here.