Sunday, July 31, 2022

Horse Peak Loop - 7/30/22

Mummy's Nose and Forehead from Horse Peak

Horse Canyon Spring
On Saturday, three of us hiked up to Horse Peak at the top of Horse Canyon off of Macks Canyon Road. We used the right fork this time and climbed up the wash until we hit the peak and its ridge. Coming down, we looped around on the right side ridge climbing over Onyx Peak. Next, we descended a ridge that brought us too far to the west so we found a nice horse trail to help us traverse over to a familiar wash. The entire hike was an adventure as we try every year to learn a little more about this area. Btw, Horse Canyon Spring was filled with a small pool of water and sweet grass around it. Maybe the horses haven't been there this year! The maps below reflect a previous hike. Fun day!

Stats: 4.3 miles; 1300' gain; 3.75 hours

Three on Horse Peak

Friday, July 29, 2022

Wallace Canyon Work in Progress - 7/28/22

Sitting on the Middle Ridge of Wallace Canyon

Wallace Canyon beyond Deadwood

Starting out Upper Bristlecone Trail in Morning

Damp Upper Bristlecone Trail
This hike isn't meant to be a "completed hike." In other words, this hike was put together "on the fly" with questions and previous experiences in use. Three of us set out on a questionable weather day for a short hike from the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead. There had been monsoonal rain in the mountains for the last two weeks so the air was fresh and the forest floor was matted down. We were the only hikers on our trail even though there were a couple of cars in the parking lot when we left. We hiked up the trail for a mile noticing that the wilderness people had torn apart at least one of the huge log teepees and used the logs for blocking use trails that headed up onto the ski slopes. After one mile, we rounded the curve feeling good and turned left onto the No Name Trail. About a quarter mile up from this junction, Wallace Canyon Trail veers up to the left. This trail had also been blocked by limbs. Most likely, this trail was blocked to indicate that the No Name Trail continues straight. We stepped over the blockage and started a formidable short climb. After the main part of the climb, the trail curved to the right and led an ascending traverse over to Wallace Saddle, a bare area. On the other side of the saddle is Wallace Canyon.

Wallace Saddle

Mt. Clinton, Split Rock and Middle Ridge (below) from Wallace Canyon Saddle

Pahrump, Nevada from Game Trail

Following Game Trail below Cliffs
Wallace Canyon is known to local hikers because of a plane crash that happened there in 1978. The airplane stayed in almost one piece and the site became a nice hiking destination until the wilderness folks decided to take the plane out before the 50 year deadline to remove "artifacts." We still visit the site and have continued the game trail all the way out to Split Rock where a view of Pahrump can be enjoyed. Stepping over the saddle, on a whim, I turned to Rita and Ralyn and asked if they were in the mood for an exploratory. Met with large smiles, I started down the trail on the right side and kept going. I've always wondered what the heck was out there! The trail became a vague horse trail with tracks showing clearly in the soft dirt and rocks.

Among Old Bristlecones

Wallace Canyon from Game Trail below Cliffs

Rocketship Peak from Game Trail

Three Belles Exploring
As we followed the trail, we saw exactly three small cairns that were all in the same locale of the photo to the left. It was a pretty place. We continued following the "trail" as it led below the cliffs up to the right. The terrain became steeper and steeper so we gave up our curiosities and started back. On the way out, we had noticed a bare saddle down on the left side that looked interesting. So we made our way back to the saddle and, on the way, we saw that there was a middle ridge of Wallace Canyon that we had never really noticed. From the other side of the canyon where the crash site was located, the small middle ridge appeared as just a small rise before you reached the bottom of the very deep canyon. From our new viewpoint, we saw that the ridge is almost complete in and of itself however small. We passed through the saddle (covered with horse manure) and climbed the short rise of the rocky ridge. 

Rita below the Cliffs

Following Game Trail on Steep Terrain

Returning to Bare Saddle

Bare Saddle with Middle Ridge Behind
At the top, we looked over the edge of a very high crumbly looking cliff. The high cliff was a large outcropping that we had seen from across the way. The outcropping was located at the top end of the middle ridge as the remaining part of the ridge dropped slowly down to the right. We explored this area for photos and after taking our break, we returned easily to the Wallace Saddle on a convenient horse trail and decided to find another horse trail that Lettie took us on a few times. This horse trail traverses between the Wallace Saddle and the No Name Saddle around the 10,000' High Point Peak above. 

View over edge of Middle Ridge Outcrop

Side of Middle Ridge

Deep Wallace Canyon from Middle Ridge

Bristlecone Love
It had been a long while since I had hiked this trail so I had no landmarks per se. Therefore, we followed the horse prints as best we could and ended up on the No Name Trail a short distance down from the Saddle. We climbed up to the saddle and took a breath then turned around and started down. We descended No Name Trail and Upper Bristlecone Trail easily, excited about our adventure. The weather was beautiful with no raindrops! In the future, we hope to expand on this hike staying longer in Wallace Canyon. We would also like to perfect the horse trail traverse over to No Name so that we come out right at the saddle. In spite of all the tracks, we did not come across any horses! But the evidence is clear ... they still come around. Great day in the fresh air!

Stats: 4.3 miles; 1300' gain; 3.75 hours

Scenes from the Horse Trail Traverse

South Sister from No Name Saddle

Descent on No Name Trail (Lee Peak above)

Friday, July 22, 2022

Foxtail Grand Loop - 7/21/22

Foxtail Ridge

Foxtail Spring

Pinnacle Point on Pioneer Rock Loop

Seven Strong on the Forest Road Ridge
Finally ready for prime time! The Foxtail Grand Loop has been completed with an enhancement of the horse trail leading down from Foxtail Ridge to the Girl Scout Road that parallels the steep rocky pipeline road up to Foxtail Spring. To run a short history of the development of this hike, I will begin by saying the complete loop was made by efforts of Brian D.'s group and our group. Jerry and Cheryl started it all by exploring up the craggy Foxtail Ridge hoping it would be a good alternative up to the North Loop Trail Ridge. In August of 2020, they took our group up the ridge giving us the first glimpse of the abandoned Girl Scout Foxtail Camp and the majestic Pioneer Rock. We climbed the ridge for about 2 miles until the going got pretty messy. But, by then, we were sold on the quality of the views and hike possibilities. We returned down the ridge to the water tank and dropped into Foxtail Camp. At the time, all we knew was that there was a pandemic and that probably the camp was not open. So, we quickly connected with the access road that runs through the Foxtail Picnic Area and hiked out.

Climbing up to rim of Foxtail Ridge

Climbing along rim of Foxtail Ridge

Happy Faces on Foxtail Ridge

Obstacles on Foxtail Ridge
About a week later (September 2020), Rita and I decided to explore further into the camp. I had learned that the camp was abandoned and the forest service owned the land. I was especially interested in what appeared to be a trail that led up to the back of Pioneer Rock. To our amazement, we found that the trail continued around the rock on a traverse across Mummy Mountain and down a trailing ridge back to the camp. The trail was absolutely beautiful although some maintenance was due from a fallen tree. We thought it was a fantastic find and showed it to all the hike leaders of the club. Soon, Brian's group got in on the new area. For their first endeavor through the camp, they climbed up the road through Foxtail Camp and past Pioneer Camp where the Pioneer Rock Loop begins. Their objective was to reach the North Loop Ridge from this wash and descend down the craggy Foxtail Ridge. Along the steep climb, they came across Foxtail Spring. (At first, we all called it Pioneer Spring because we didn't know it was officially called Foxtail Spring!) He sent photos of the grotto and in October 2020, our group followed suit and climbed up the steep rocky pipeline road. Pioneer Rock Loop suddenly took a backseat to the new find of the spring grotto. But, it still added to the hike royally!

Bruce climbs the Ridge

Taking a Photo Break

Dipping under a Rocky Obstacle on the Ridge

View from the Horse Trail Saddle
The grotto continued to amaze us with its different seasons of beauty over the next year. The shooting stars and columbines turned yellow in the fall creating a colorful masterpiece. When we visited in the spring (May 2021), we saw the ice sculpture created by the spring emanating from the cliff side and grotto. This repeated itself the following spring. In September of 2021, we decided to follow Brian's lead and search for a connection between Foxtail Ridge and Foxtail Spring. This connection is complicated by a neighboring wash that appears to have been the victim of an avalanche several years ago. Aspen thickets grow between that wash and about halfway up the ridge and are difficult to wade through. Brian and our group made a couple of attempts to hike down from a particular saddle on the ridge. We located a couple of old horse trails that were stopped by the aspens. On one trip, we made it through the aspens and across the wash and accidentally discovered the Girl Scout Road. Another great find! We assume that this road was constructed and used by the girl scouts to climb up to the spring. It is friendlier than the steep rocky pipeline road that it parallels. We followed it up and came out just below the grotto and ran into Lettie's group who had come up the pipeline road the same day! 

Horse Trail from Ridge to Wash Below

Girl Scouts Road up to Foxtail Spring

Seven Strong at Foxtail Spring

Bee on one of many Shooting Stars at Spring
In June of 2022, after much research, Brian's group mapped the easiest way between the horse trail coming down from the ridge to the Girl Scout Road. They enhanced the trail with cairns and asked other groups to use the trail in hopes that the path would be made clear. Therefore, we gathered together seven hikers and debuted the Foxtail Grand Loop in July 2022. The following is the story of this hike. We began at the Pay Phone Trailhead and climbed up to the Forest Road Ridge. Along with us were two newbies. What fun! When we reached the water tank, we continued straight and climbed the steep hill up to the rim of Foxtail Ridge. Staying on the rim of the ridge as much as possible, we enjoyed the views of Mummy Mountain and Pioneer Rock across the canyon below to our left. At the second "dip" in the ridge, we stopped the steep climb and found the Horse Trail down. Brian's work is doing its job leading hikers all the way down to cross the avalanched wash and over to the Girl Scout Road. The road was still a workout after the ridge but we finally reached Foxtail Spring and its grotto.

Second Large Cliff Band above Foxtail Spring

Last part of descent on Pipeline Road

Pipeline / Snowplay Road

Climb up to Pioneer Rock Overlook
While three of us sat at the grotto, the other four hikers climbed up above and found a gorgeous new area of the wash that has another couple of cliff bands to photograph. After our break, we decided to descend back down the Girl Scout Road instead of the steep rocky pipeline road until we emerged at the latter only one hill up from the trees. Down the last hill and down the more gentle part of the pipeline road through the trees passing the pump station and the aspen lined section. We arrived at the Pioneer Camp junction and turned to the right. More climbing took us up through the camp and up the hill to the saddle behind Pioneer Rock. Five of us climbed up to the overlook outcrop that sits behind Pioneer Rock for a look see. Pioneer Rock is a little bit difficult to get to from behind but you can see it. We returned to the saddle and began the loop trail around the rock and out to Pinnacle Point lying at the top of a trailing ridge. Views are great here but Bruce and Ralph seemed more interested in searching out ways to climb Mummy Mountain from this vantage point! I don't blame them. It does seem rather intriguing.

Overlooking the back of Pioneer Rock

Pioneer Rock Loop traversing side of Mummy Mountain

Tree obstacles on Pioneer Rock Loop

Pinnacle Point and view of The Sisters Ridge
We continued down the beautiful trail and returned to Foxtail Camp. Passing the Peace Pole, we climbed the log steps up to the water tank and hiked down the Forest Road Ridge picking up a few bits of trash along the way. In town, the temperatures were reaching 113 degrees! We were very comfortable here in this shaded canyon all day until we came back out to the cars. The Foxtail Grand Loop was well received and is now official! Great day in the mountains!

Stats: 5.4 miles; 1725' gain; 4.25 hours (with explorations at the spring and the rock overlook)

Peace Pole at Foxtail Camp

Climbing camp steps back to Forest Road Ridge

South Sister from the Forest Road Ridge