Tuesday, November 24, 2020

La Madre Double Arch v Pinnacle Canyon / Down Wash - 11/23/20

La Madre Double Arch

Pinnacle Canyon

White Rock Wash

Trail toward La Madre Mountains
It had been almost seven years since I made my one and only trip up to the La Madre Double Arch. Why? Too cold. Wrong hike leader. Wrong speed. Something along those lines. However, today, our whittled down pod of three AtBF hikers made the trip and added a canyon that had caught my eye on that first endeavor. At the top of the trail portion of the hike, I had looked over the side of the ridge to the right and seen a beautiful deep canyon with pinnacles sticking up within. It never left my imagination. Another idea I had on that same hike was to make the descent through the La Madre Wash. I had asked Don Caldwell, RIP, what that was like and he indicated that it wasn't too much of a problem. Not being sure what that means, I added it to our hike today.

View back to Turtlehead and Sandstone Quarry

Also on today's hike, Mike, had not done the climb up to the arches for several years as well. It sounded like he has several of his own route loops that he has experienced in the past.

Mike, Ralyn and the Sandstone Bluffs

And, our last but not least member of today's team, Ralyn, had never done the hike before. Always ready for a good hike, she enjoyed the day, weather, scramble, hike and not quite getting to the arches! (To be explained below.)

Trail down to Pinnacle Canyon (Challenge! Find Stag! Middle Right!)

Starting up Pinnacle Canyon
From the Scenic Loop, we drove up the White Rock Road to begin our hike at the top trailhead where the restroom is located. The road seems to be a little worse for wear. It is best to have a fairly high clearance vehicle or be very good at avoiding large embedded rocks. The latter was my personal strategy. Either start at the top or add 1 mile to the hike by parking at the bottom of the spur road and walking up. The hike started up the White Rock and Keystone Thrust Trails on a slow climb, passing a large agave roasting pit as the trail circled around to the left and right. Cactus Hill rose up to our right and, at the ridge, there is a trail that turns to the right to climb up. If you continue straight, the trail leads down into the Keystone Thrust above ground fault area. This is one of a handful in the world.

Good Scrambling in Pinnacle Canyon

At this junction, we turned to the left and continued hiking up the ridge following the trail. After about a third of a mile, we saw the small forgotten agave roasting pit on the right side. For many years, hikers have hiked right over the diminutive pit but, now, there is a trail that goes around it.

More Good Scrambling

This is where we turned to follow the trail down into the wash below. As we descended, we saw a large dark colored stag and doe making their way up into the hills among the trees. Before I knew he was there, I caught a photo of the stag but it is very difficult to find him. (See four photos above. You might need to magnify the photo!)

And ... More Good Scrambling

Dropping into La Madre Wash
(Up from Entry Junction)
There was a game trail to our left that we took down and over the next lower ridge and wash junction. This put us into the lower end of Pinnacle Canyon. We turned to the left and started up. This wash had flooded out a few years ago and it was beautiful with sandstone and limestone rocks. It wasn't long before we entered into the tall walls and pinnacles as seen from above on that previous hike. Then, we were faced with some great scrambling opportunities. Since this canyon is not well known, the scrambles are not worn down and there are small handholds and footholds that help. After a tenth of a mile of scrambles, we started leveling off and, soon, there was a good easy place to climb out on the left side. At the top, we saw the vague trail that we had exited from earlier and, immediately, began descending to the large wash on the other side.

View back from narrowed La Madre Wash

This is when the hike gets to the nitty gritty slog up the gravel wash sprinkled with some boulder hopping. After about one third of a mile, the wash makes a bend to the right and we started seeing the Double Arch appearing above. It is on the side of a small wash high on the hillside.

Small Wash leading up to the Arches

We saw it. We talked about it. We kept climbing. And, then, ... we passed its small wash without noticing. Hmm. We climbed a couple of fun walls. We lost sight of the arch. Turned up the very steep loose hillside. Clambered over to the right to see if we could see it. Got some outstanding views down canyon. Then I realized our mistake and came down the steep hillside and back down the walls.

Steep Off Course Excursion

Incredible Views down Canyon
Yep. There it is! One more canyon wash over. Of course, by that time, we no longer had the desire to climb any more steepness! So, we took our break at the arch wash junction and just looked at it ... way up there! I found some archive photos from that previous hike in 2014. These show how large the bottom arch is. The other arch is a small window laying on top of the large limestone arch. From where we were on break, we could only see the upside down teardrop shape of light that indicated the opening. (We have already decided to make another trip up there in a few months.) After the break, we started down the wash from boulder to boulder. After the wash bend to the left, we found a wash route that Mike had used in the past as he followed Don. It was another very steep loop route.

Meanwhile, Don Caldwell (RIP) waits for us at the arch! (Archive Photo)

We came to the entry junction where the bank on the left side flattened out then we kept going down the gravel wash. Coming up, was another exciting exploratory. (New stuff is always exciting!)

Don's View from the Arch (Archive Photo)

The first "obstacle" was a limestone wall with an overhang. There was a trail on the right side of the wash that showed the preferred route around the wall. Next, the wash started to deepen a little.

Returning from Excursion

Break at Arch Wash Junction
As it deepened, it also narrowed. This was a pretty area. Then the wash dropped down about ten feet into a limestone narrows. There were probably ways around the obstacle but we decided to drop down with it and go through the nice slot. Those were the two obvious obstacles but there was also a little bit of easy scrambling, too. We made quick time of the 1.25 miles of the La Madre Wash before the White Rock Hills Trail crossed our path. Choosing to complete the wash descent, we crossed the trail and hiked on down to the White Rock Wash that flows at the base of the White Rock Hills. A left turn into this wash showed a gorgeous change in rock and colors. Here, there was red and white (mostly white) sandstone leading us down toward the trailhead.

View up to Arches

We enjoyed the colorful sandstone display for almost half a mile before we hit the White Rock Hills Trail again and climbed out on the right side.

La Madre Wash Narrowing

Dropping into Narrows
At the trailhead, there were a lot more hikers milling about and I lifted up my buff over my nose. It is Thanksgiving week and Red Rock is already buzzing! Carefully, I drove my car down the spur road and rode around the remaining of the Scenic Loop. This is a good hike made better by adding Pinnacle Canyon and the La Madre Wash descent. I'm already looking forward to our repeat hike this winter!

Stats: 5.4 miles; 1950' gain; 4.5 hours

La Madre Wash Narrows

Descending La Madre Wash

Finishing with White Rock Wash

Friday, November 20, 2020

Cheyenne Triple - 11/19/20

View to Summerlin Peak from Cheyenne Peak

Cheyenne Peak (L) and Star Carlton Bluff (R) from Reverence Point Summit

Sun Rising on Secondary Cheyenne Peak

Leaving Gilmore Park
Cheyenne Peak is located across the CC-215 beltway from Lone Mountain in the northwest of Las Vegas. There are three parks found at the base of Cheyenne Peak and ridge. They all can be accessed from Cliff Shadows Parkway. The first park, Buckskin Park, caters to equestrian activities along with hikers and bikers. It is recognized by the white "ranch" fence surrounding it. The second park is the newest called Trigono Park. This park is very nice with exercise equipment and a "nature walk." The third park is located at the western terminus of Alexander Drive. It is called Gilmore Park. This last park is the smallest and it is, also, where we begin our climb to Cheyenne Peak. We prepared for our hike watching several walkers and joggers milling around before or after their Base Loop excursion.

View of Lone Mountain from beginning of Cheyenne Peak Ascent

Climbing the Limestone Slabs

Lone Mountain and Desert NWR from Saddle

Meeting up with Laszlo
Viewing the high ridge in front of us, it appears that the peak to the right is higher than the one in front of us. Au contraire! The peak to the right is the secondary peak! We followed Mike down the cement path to connect with the Base Loop Trail. A right turn on the trail brought us to several choices for an ascent climb. We chose a route that was around 150 yards from our right turn onto the trail. This put us on an easyish climb up sticky limestone slabs. There is a vague trail to follow but just climbing the slabs upward to the saddle above works. At the saddle, there is a great view of the city if it isn't enveloped in residual California smoke like it was today. The route turns up the ridge and follows a fairly clear trail to the flag and then the peak. 

Star Carlton Bluff & Reverence Point from Cheyenne Peak Climb

Six with Sticks plus Laszlo at Cheyenne Peak Flag

Starting down along the Ridge

Small Favorites
When we reached the flag, we recognized the hiker that was just ahead of us. It was Laszlo!! We spoke (keeping our social distancing) and he joined our group photo. Next, we climbed on up to the peak, took a couple of photos and continued down the ridge on the other side. This ridge is bordered by cliffs on the left and a long steep slope on the right. There is a rocky trail to follow, if you wish. To our left, we had a great view of Summerlin Peak. To our right, we saw Lone Mountain and out to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. The ridge descended then flattened out. Next, we faced the first of the two rocky tors that led up to the Secondary Peak. Both of these provided exciting climbs up walls and/or up rocky knife edges.

Hiking along Cliff Ridge to Secondary Peak

First of two tor Climbs

Climbing Fun!

A Break at the Cave
A little further and we came to another smaller "wall." Here, we followed the trail to the left and began our descent. This trail passes by a large cave that is somewhat furnished with a chair and a wind chime. We stopped here for our break and a photo. From there, the route chooses the trail that starts down the hill to the left via a couple of switchbacks to the Base Loop Trail that encircles the ridge. On this backside of the ridge, the base trail is about half way up the hillside. Our pace increased in speed as we followed it around to the southern end of the ridge. The trail is in good shape. We passed a handful of hikers, joggers and dog walkers on this section of the hike.
Hiking the back side of the Cheyenne Base Loop

Rounding the South End of Cheyenne Peak (Reverence Point in Background)

Star Carlton Bluff (L) and Reverence Point (R)

Jesse's Cave in Reverence Point
As we rounded the bend, (see what I did there?), we dropped down to the wash on our right and passed the cave (Jesse's Cave) in the small hill across the wash. This small hill is Reverence Point, named after the park on the other side of the hill. A beautiful white dog barked at us from his yard as we began the short climb. Although this hill seems a bit insignificant, there are a couple of very nice views from the top. The short drop down the other side led to a land bridge above Reverence Park. The trail up the next, larger hill is very clear. We started up using the slab next to the trail as much as possible. This climb was longer and more strenuous. There is another flag on this small peak which is visible from the freeway below.

View from Reverence Point below Summit

Jerry and Cheryl on Bridge between two small Peaks (Summerlin Peak in Background)

Starting up Star Carlton Bluff

Star Carlton Bluff Ascent
We continued hiking toward the northeast on our steep descent down to the wash below. As we hiked, Mike and Ralyn picked up trash from the adjacent hillside. Picking up trash has become a side occupation of ours. There is certainly a lot to pick up! At the bottom of the hill, we turned to our left and made our way over to the Buckskin Park, hiked through then connected with the Base Loop Trail again. This side of Cheyenne Peak is not so beautiful. The trail runs alongside office buildings and roads. But, the trail is still in good shape and provides a good way to go between parks. When the trail arrived above Trigono Park, we exited down a slab and entered the park on a picturesque walking bridge.

Star Carlton Bluff Peak Flag - Las Vegas Strip in Background

Steep Descent off Star Carlton Bluff

Hiking through Buckskin Park to connect with Base Loop Trail

Cheyenne Peak Base Loop
In Trigono Park, there is a short nature trail that has desert plants with signs telling what they are. It's wonderful except for the fact that they are in desperate need of a dousing of water. I think several of the plants are not going to make it. After the nature walk, there are a few exercise/ fitness stations. Jerry and Cheryl demonstrate one of them in a photo below! From there, it is only a walk up the hill to Gilmore Park. This was a really good new hike and workout for us. And, we always have a lot of fun!

Stats: 5.1 miles; 1550' gain; 4 hours

Cheyenne Peak Base Loop

Hiking into Trigono Park

Jerry and Cheryl practicing their Climbing Skills