Thursday, July 30, 2020

Montgomery Peak (50th Peak Finale for Jerry & Cheryl) - 6/30/20

Summit Photo for Montgomery Peak
Around the Bend Friends club members, Jerry and Cheryl Thomas, completed the Las  Vegas Mountaineers Classic Fifty List on June 30! Their 50th peak was Montgomery Peak. Congratulations to both of you!!  😃 👏👏👏

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

South Sister - 7/27/20

View across South Sister Peak Ridge

North Side of Peak Ridge

West Peak from East Peak

Rain Washed Pavement at Old Mill
Five AtBF club members parked on Lee Canyon Road just below the traffic circle and Lee Meadows. We should call this the Pay Phone Trailhead! We drove though a couple of rain showers on the way up from Las Vegas and it had rained at the trailhead just before we arrived. There were several showers in the area and north of the Spring Mountains. But, the clouds were on their way out and everything was freshly washed. We crossed the road and began hiking up through the Old Mill Picnic Area. The picnic area road is paved. Just after passing the restrooms that are directly on the road to the left, there is a rock-lined trail that forks off to the right. This is the Old Mill Trail.

Climbing the South Sister Trail - Phase 1
If you continue to follow this trail, you will pass the ruins of an old mill then junction with the Lower Bristlecone Trail.

Lee Peak and Charleston Peak from South Sister Saddle
But, before you reach the mill, the trail forks, again to the right, into a pine glade. We took this trail.

Climbing Phase 2

Starting Phase 3 of South Sister Trail
This is the beginning of the South Sister Trail; a beautiful trail that leads up through a wooded ravine. Before you begin the gentle climb, there is an old home foundation to the right near the bottom of the canyon side. It is rumored that this home was used by the mill worker family back in the 1930s or 1940s. If you visit the mill ruins, you can see the aspens that were engraved with old names possibly of this family.

We continued up the clear ravine trail. At one point, the ravine leads into a multi-ravine junction. The trail leads up the ravine to the right. It is here that the trail begins to steepen.

South Sister Looming Ahead
The last part of the ravine trail is quite steep and, at the top, we found ourselves on the South Sister Saddle.

Starting Phase 4 - The Scree Climb
The saddle is at the end of Phase 1 of the climb to South Sister. There is evidence of horses using this area.

We tried the left side!

Newbie on the Peak Ridge
We took a short rest then began Phase 2 by turning right on the ridge. There is short but steep climb up along the top of the ridge until you reach the next saddle. The "trail" that takes you up the ridge is becoming more and more clear. But, from experience, it is good to leave the trail and head up to the right when you get to a point where you can see the saddle. For some reason, the trail continues up the left side of the ridge and takes you over the top of the highest point. Not necessary. The group had stayed together and we took a short break at the beginning of Phase 3.

McFarland, Bonanza, Macks, South Sister, and North Sister
Phase 3 circles around a connecting ridge to the right. This part of the trail goes up and down, up, up and down, up, up and down!

Gorgeous Views in every Direction
The views from this part of the hike are fantastic! To the right, you can see the Lower Bristlecone Trail, Charleston Peak, Mummy Mountain and Lee Peak. To the left, you can see Macks Peak, McFarland Peak and the desert floor.

The 3rd Class Route to and from the Peak Ridge

Climbing onto the East Peak
As we hiked along the ridge, we focused on the steep in-your-face peak rising up in front of us. Ralyn, a South Sister newbie, thought we were kidding when we told her that we would be climbing THAT! Lol! Yep! We reached the bottom of the scree-filled steep slope and took on Phase 4, the last phase of the climb. There are a couple of use trails that guide hikers up the hill and we forged ahead in the deep sandy rock. There is also a used route on the extreme left side after about half way up. A few of us tried this route today. Finally, all five of us were at the top of the scree slope.

Darn fire rings! They're everywhere!
The West Peak of South Sister is found on top of the peak ridge to the left. It is the most popular "peak" of the mountain.

View West from East Peak (South Sister Peak Ridge to Right)
To reach this, hikers must use their scramble skills on a 3rd class climb that also contains a bit of exposure.

McFarland Peak from Scree Descent

Horse Poo Ridge! (Phase 3)
On top, we balanced across the rock peak ridge and signed the log. As seen by the photos, there was a gorgeous sky decorated by clouds. We returned to the scramble and carefully climbed down. To give the newbie the "complete experience," we hiked on over to the the East Peak of South Sister. On this end of the mountain, we discovered a fire ring on the edge of the cliff. It's not there anymore. Then we returned to our cars the way we came. When we reached the Old Mill Trail again, we saw three wild horses munching about twenty-five yards off trail in the glade.

South Sister is a tried and true hike in the Spring Mountains. And, on a beautiful day like today, it can't be beat!

Stats: 5.5 miles; 2000' gain; 4.5 hours

Horse Poo Saddle! (aka South Sister Saddle)

Descending the South Sister Trail

Wild Horse (1 of 3) off Old Mill Trail

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Wallace Canyon Point - 7/23/20

View to Pahrump, NV from Rock Peak above Split Rock

Split Rock on Wallace Canyon Point

Beautiful Morning on the Upper Bristlecone Trail

Starting up Wallace Canyon Trail
Still down to three hikers, this AtBF pod did an adventurous hike to the end of Wallace Canyon where there is a rocky outcrop ridge and a view of Pahrump, Nevada in the distance. This hike has one, two, three game trails that lead from the Wallace Canyon Saddle along a traverse on the left (south) side of the canyon. This canyon is famous for the downed small aircraft that landed here in 1978 almost in one piece during a snow squall. One person died in this unplanned landing and a makeshift memorial is located here now. The memorial is made up of tiny pieces of the plane that were left here when the plane was taken away. If you find any small pieces of the plane when you are visiting, just place the pieces inside the ring of rocks nearby. For a look at what the plane looked like at this location before the wilderness folks cleaned it up, go to:

Approaching Wallace Saddle
Two of the three of today's group had done this hike previously but, now, only had the track to follow.

South Sister from Wallace Saddle
We used the track often to make sure we were not to high or too low on the traverse.

Wallace Canyon Trail

Wallace Canyon
We began at the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead and followed the trail up for about a mile to the No Name Trail junction. It was a beautiful morning on this side of the ridge as seen in the third photo of this entry. Not even a quarter mile up the No Name Trail, there is a trail that forks up to the left. This is the Wallace Canyon Trail. As we stood for a moment, a man walked by with a chihuahua named Squirrel! How cute is that?! We started confidently up the trail but somewhere after half way to the upper traverse, we lost the trail and got going on another use trail. No worries! We could see the saddle and forged on. This is a beautiful saddle that opens out to Wallace Canyon with a large rock outcropping on the right side jutting out into the canyon. A trail-less route over to the No Name Saddle can be made from this point. And, some more vigorous hikers might find the climb up to the Pahrump Overlook Peak ridge to be exciting. That ridge is to the right (north) of the saddle.

Plane Crash Memorial
We took in the view then headed down the other side of the saddle looking for the trail that turns off to the left. This trail takes the hiker across the bowl of the canyon.

Starting Across and Up Wallace Canyon Traverse
This is a pretty good trail that can be followed almost all the way to the old plane crash site. Note: almost! Don't turn high and you will walk into the memorial among a nice woodsy glade.

Pine Cone Gully - One Gully of Many!

Following a Game Trail up to Rock Peak
We walked around the large glade that is located directly across from the large rock outcropping on the north side of the canyon. The place where the airplane had come to rest is no longer apparent. Eventually, we gave up the search and re-found the trail that we had come in on. Here's where the trail goes in and out of focus. The main course of action is a traverse on the horseshoe shaped canyon side. However, there is a lot of brush. Therefore, it behooves the hiker to try and find the trails that wildlife and other hikers have left behind. There is a lower trail, a medium level trail and a higher trail. These paths are difficult to follow unless you are more familiar with the route. I recognized a few landmarks from my previous hike with Lettie and patched the remaining part of the hike together with the help of my GPS. One particular landmark that was very helpful is a wide flat wash. The desired trail crosses this flat wash near the bottom of the flat area.

Arriving on Outcrop Ridge
We continued following the trail as best we could and ended up on the high trail. We had kept climbing trying to get out of the ground cover junipers to continue our traverse.

Rock Peak on Outcrop Ridge
After that, it wasn't long before we looked up to our left and saw a large rock. This is the top end of the rocky Outcrop Ridge.

Outcrop Ridge

Hiking down to Split Rock next to Outcrop Ridge
The next large rock offered a nice little peak to climb and take in the view. Being familiar with the terrain, we knew we had to continue down the Outcrop Ridge to get to the Split Rock formation where the hike is supposed to end. The next opening of rock turned out to be the place! It is basically the "point" of Wallace Canyon. Here, there is a great view of Pahrump on one side and Wallace Saddle on the other. Looking back from where we hiked, you can see the "horseshoe" shape of the traverse. ... And, the many washes that we had to cross. We sat here for our break and enjoyed the breezy weather. The southwest wind had been blowing up through the canyon from the time we started the traverse.

Pahrump View from Split Rock
Our plan now was to find the medium level "trail" that we thought we had missed on the way out.

Wallace Saddle from Split Rock - Mike climbing Split Rock
So, we started down and out the trail that is clear for a few yards from the Split Rock.

Wallace Saddle in Distance

Split Rock to Pahrump Overlook Peak
Yep. After a few yards, we were back to deciphering the out-of-focus trail and ended up retracing our steps from the hike out. Well, at least things looked familiar! We crossed the wide landmark wash and found the trail on the other side. On the way out, we had not come in this way because it is the high route that leads above the plane crash site. Still, the trail jumped from here to there and from there to here! Sure would be nice to have a good trail for this hike! The views are beautiful! Anyway, eventually, we crossed the last gully wash and began circling around the bowl of the canyon. I think it is best to go down to the clear trail that you use on the way out. And, that's what we did.

Recognizable Wide Wash on way Back
Climbing back up to the saddle, we found relief that this was the last uphill of the hike.

Approaching Wallace Saddle on way Back
On the saddle again, we noticed that the Split Rock can be seen from here. See photo below.

Split Rock can be seen from Wallace Saddle

Mummy Mountain view from Wallace Canyon Trail
We followed the real trail back from the saddle to No Name Trail junction. (It's very clear the other way around!) Then, we turned right onto No Name and junctioned with the Upper Bristlecone Trail. At this same time, we met up with another AtBF club member, Liz and her friend. While we were talking, Janet L. came down the trail, too. It is always so nice to see friends out on the trails where everyone is keeping their social distance and staying healthy. If you aren't hiking during this down time, email a friend. Drive to a trailhead and start hiking! As an AtBF club member, you should know the rules of the wilderness. Bring plenty of water and, at least, your phone. Do not go off trail and keep your eyes open for landmarks. It matters not, if you have a particular destination in mind. Just hike! (Nature is a necessity.) If you have no sense of direction, forget what I just said!

5.5 miles; 1650' gain; 4.25 hours

Back on No Name Trail

Approaching Bristlecone Trail Junction

Meeting up with AtBF Club Member and Treasurer Liz