Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Hidden Peak Loop CW - 11/27/18

Hidden Peak on Approach

Hidden Peak from Southeast

The Escarpment Arch from Rim Trail South

Happy Birthday, Mark
 Nine club members started the hike with a birthday wish to Mark, one of our incredibly fastest and lovable hikers in the club! Happy 75th Mark!
  Hidden Peak is upstaged by Monument Peak in the Sandstone Bluffs of the Red Rock escarpment. Although it is not much shorter than the peak that rises between Sandstone Peak and Black Velvet Peak, Hidden Peak's view is covered by Monument from the east. The western view from atop the escarpment Rim Trail is a different story. The colorful peak is prominently represented to the north of Black Velvet Canyon, the precipitous canyon to the south of Monument Peak.

Hiking out the Beautiful Mountain Springs Horse Trail
Nine hikers arrived at the Mountain Springs Pass Trailhead among the construction for the new SR 160. The workers were busy preparing for blasting the next day.

Starting up the Wash that begins Shallow
 Our plan was to do the normally counter-clockwise loop in a clockwise direction which meant that we would begin by hiking out the Mountain Springs Horse Trail along the back foothills of the escarpment.

Wash becomes Narrow and Steeper

Hiking out of Wash to Ridge
 It was a chilly morning but by beginning the hike this way, we avoided the cold temperatures until the sun had a chance to warm things up. So, we started out the dirt road to the furthest left, passed the empty miniature horse stables (we really miss them), and proceeded up the old abandoned road to the agave roasting pit that we pass the most. (There are many agave roasting pits in the Mountain Springs area.) We hiked above the Mountain Springs and turned up to the horse trail.

Reaching Ridgeline - View of Ridge Climb to Rim Trail
  At this point, unbeknownst to the leader, a few of the back hikers decided to take a wardrobe change break and thus, missed the turn!

View from Ridge Climb
A couple hundred yards later, the front hikers heard yelling. Hmm. Someone else must be hiking around here. Ohhh! That's us! So, we waited for them to bushwhack up to us!

Las Vegas from Rim Trail

Calico Hills from Rim Trail
 We continued our strong speed (2.5 to 3.1 mph) all the way across the foothills until we came to a certain wash crossing where we turned to the east. Never having made this transition in this direction, we were trying to go directly east to catch the ascent wash. Another trail led us astray and soon, we had to check in with the GPS. Yep, we had walked right through the shallow target wash not long before and we had to correct our direction. The shallow wash became deeper and more familiar and we knew we were on our way up.

Approaching the Hidden Peak Trail junction on Rim Trail
 The small narrow wash turned out to be steeper than it feels when you descend it! We kept our speed (around 2.5 mph) taking in the wash easily.

Black Velvet Canyon from Hidden Peak Trail Descent
 We "smelled" the junction before we reached it! Aha! Our cairns that we had placed there four weeks ago were still there and we turned left to climb to the ridge.

Sandstone Peak from Hidden Peak Trail

Hidden Peak from Sandstone Approach
 At the top of the ridge, we rested and saw our next climb up the ridge to the Rim Trail. Up, we went! Phew! Finally, we were on the escarpment rim and the views were absolutely beautiful. ... It was also cold and windy! Oh well, we were pretty warm with our exertion. We turned to the left and began hiking along the rim and soon saw the limestone escarpment arch from the south as seen in the third photo. After circling the intermittent peak, we saw the arch again from the north side. Soon after that, the trail continued by turning to the east and started on a steep descent.

View North from Hidden Peak Overlook
 Here, it seems that this is the continuation of the Rim Trail. But, in fact, this is a spur trail to Hidden Peak. The Rim Trail is less clear and continues down to what continues to be the actual rim of the escarpment.

Seven Hikers climb Peak after Scramble Down to Bridge
 The descent down to the Hidden Peak Overlook is very steep but clear and relatively not exposed to the precipitous Black Velvet Canyon to the south.

Photos from a Lone Hiker (Susan) on the Peak as Seven make the Climb (Deer not on the Peak!)

Climbers arrive on Hidden Peak from Overlook
 We did have to consult the GPS twice to make sure of the direction of the route but had we done a small search, we would probably have found the path. The trail descends down past a bench bridge and around a final small limestone peak to reach a large area of sandstone. There are a few cairns to help with the crossing of the sandstone heading south. Near the south end of this area, there is a descent crack that is used to scramble down to the bridge between the overlook and the peak. From there, the peak climbers simply climb to the peak either basically straight up on a sloped route or by using a ramp that climbs half way up to the north then uses a steeper but shorter climb to the peak.

Eight Hikers on Hidden Peak (MOC behind Lens)
 At the overlook, two hikers stayed back to watch the ascent unfold. It is a beautiful place to spend some time without further work and exposure.

Rita takes in the View on the Overlook
 The climbers proceeded on to use the "straight up" route and arrived at the peak to collect another hiker! Susan had reached the peak just before them and recorded their ascent from that angle as seen a few photos above.

Some Tough Trees on Overlook

Overlook Sandstone
 The climbers returned after they enjoyed a break on Hidden Peak with Susan in tow. Then we tackled the steep "in your face" climb back up to the Rim Trail. A rest was deserved at the Rim Trail junction then we continued down and up past the arch. The climbing wasn't finished as we made our way past the ridge and up to the Mountain Springs Peak area. Temporarily tired of climbing, we chose the traverse trail that passes below the peak then joins the main Mountain Springs Peak Trail on the south side.

Different Views from Overlook
 Now in very familiar territory, we began the descent down to and past the Windy Peak fork. At this point, the descent became relentless!

Mike captured the group returning to Arch.
 The elevation graphs below show the long steep descent that this hike gives you in the end.

Returning along the Rim Trail

Strong Wind on the Rim Trail
 We quickly reached the Heartbreak Hill saddle and proceeded down Heartbreak Hill. It was the end of a great and long hike on the escarpment of Red Rock Canyon NCA. Back in the foothills, the temperatures were warmer and the wind was gone. Fantastic group of strong hikers that are fun to hike with! No complaints and everything is taken in stride (pun) ... and with a dose of humor! For 5 hours.

Hidden Peak: 9 miles; 2200' gain
Hidden Peak Overlook: 8 miles; 2050' gain

Descending Mountain Springs Peak Trail

Almost down to Saddle

Descending Heartbreak Hill

Elevation Graph to Overlook

Elevation Graph to Peak

Monday, November 26, 2018

Liberty Bell Arch - 11/25/18

Liberty Bell Arch

Liberty Bell Arch with Fortification Hill

Colorado River Overlook above Arch

John leads us Down
The route between Kingman and Hoover Dam first became part of the state highway system in 1934 when it was designated as SR 69. At the time, Hoover Dam was still under construction and the highway did not link to Nevada. The dam was completed the following year in 1935 enabling traffic to cross over the top of the dam. In that year, US 466 was designated over SR 69 from Kingman to Hoover Dam. US 93 was extended south from (then) US 91 at Glendale, Nevada in 1951.

Arizona has always signed this particular route with its zero mile point located at the Nevada border. Until October 19, 2010, that point was on the crest of Hoover Dam, but ever since has been at the state line along the new Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. ~ Wikipedia

Entering White Rock Canyon

When the new route was opened in 2010, the original trailhead for Liberty Bell Arch Trail had been obliterated by the construction. When before we parked on the side of the road (Hwy 93) and headed down an old mining road toward the manganese mine, we had to search for the trail connection from White Rock Canyon.

Passing Honeysuckle Mesquite (aka Catclaw)
Eventually, a solid connection route was made and the Liberty Bell Arch Trail shares the White Rock Canyon Trailhead with a few other routes. A sign was finally placed at the White Rock Canyon / Liberty Bell Arch junction after years of hikers looking for a large rock arrow in the sand.


Liberty Bell Arch Trail Junction
A segment of this new highway consists of a new route across the Colorado River called the Hoover Dam Bypass. The new crossing is the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, the first so-called concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the United States. The bridge is 1,900 feet (579 m) with a 1,080-foot (329 m) main span. The roadway is 840 feet (256 m) above the river.

The bypass replaced the old section of U.S. 93 that approached and crossed directly over Hoover Dam, which was inadequate by modern standards, because there was one narrow lane in each direction, including several hairpin turns, many dangerous curves, and poor sight distances. Also, in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, truck traffic over the Hoover Dam had been diverted south to a river crossing near Laughlin, Nevada, in an effort to safeguard the dam from hazardous spills or explosions. ~ Wikipedia

Climbing up to the Manganese Mine Area
Thus, the history of Highway 93 between Boulder City, Nevada and Kingman, Arizona. White Rock Canyon Trailhead is a signed turn to the north at mile marker 4 from the new bridge. Now, if we can just get the Lake Mead NRA park service to add a pit toilet, we would have it made!

Arch Shadow
So, today, seventeen hikers converged for a club hike on one of Lake Mead NRA's official trails to a large arch that resembles a Liberty Bell on its interior outline. We hiked down White Rock Canyon until we found the right turn signed junction.

Passing Skiff from Old Mine

Standing outside the Mine
The first climb of the hike took us up to view an old mining skiff. The manganese mine itself is, basically, in the ground underneath the skiff with an entrance on the other side of the hill below. Manganese, a chemical element (Mn), is a hard, silvery and brittle metal. It is roughly similar to iron but harder and more brittle. It is essential in making steel and essential to the plant world and animal / human bodies. This particular mine was a small operation and some of the equipment they used still lies around. Fumes from manganese mines were toxic but perhaps all the manganese toxicity in this mine is gone!

Mine Buckets
From the mine, the trail leads down the wash. We found many "green" colored rocks in this area. The rocks are shaded green because of the abundance of copper ore in the area. Many times we have seen bighorn sheep in this area but not today.

Climbing up to the Arch View
The wash trail turns to the right near the bottom of the wash and climbs uphill curving around to eventually reach the base of the arch on its south side. In the past, our hikers have climbed up and around the arch on its left side to precariously reach the inside of the arch. There were no takers today!

View Back at Arch

Bypass Bridge in View from Trail
The best photo opportunities of the arch are up the trail past the arch as you head toward the Colorado River Overlook. As you get higher, the best shape of the Liberty Bell comes into focus. The colorful landscape that includes Fortification Hill appears in the lens in the distance to the right. And, as you climb a little higher, you can get the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge included in the whole panorama. The first panorama of the arch above was taken from a short overlook trail near the top of the traverse before the arch goes out of sight. After this, there is a shortish climb up to the plateau above that winds among the rocks with views of the bridge and the river below.

Triple Barrel down to Two
I took my usual photo of the red barrels above and was somewhat disappointed to find that one of the three barrels had bit the dust. A nice snack break above the river was enjoyed by all on the river overlook.

Seventeen Strong
We watched as canoes, kayaks and a pontoon swam by almost 1000 feet below. A no-selfie zone for sure! After our rest and reverie, we started down negotiating the somewhat treacherous rocky path beneath our feet to the arch area.

The Descent back to Arch Area

Dropping down to the Wash
We took a small break at the arch then followed John W. down to the wash, up the wash, up the hill, over the rock-hop, down the slippery slope and back through the White Rock Canyon connection. The last part is not so pleasant trudging up through the deep loose gravel but we covered our discomfort with plenty of conversation! Back under the bridge and up the hill to the cars. It was a great day of hiking! Fun group!

5.5 miles; 1200 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Climbing out of Wash

Dropping down to the White Rock Canyon Trail Junction

Climbing up to the Trailhead