Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Foxtail Spring & Pioneer Rock Loop - 5/29/23

Foxtail Spring & Waterfall

The Sisters Ridge above snowy road from Spring

Lee Peak above Ski Slopes and Upper Bristlecone Parking from Loop Trail

Starting up the Foxtail Ridge Road
Often when it is a holiday or any other really busy day, our hike will take us up to the Foxtail area. Here, you can find a challenging ridge, a beautiful spring, Pioneer Rock, and the abandoned girl scout camp named Camp Foxtail. Today, Memorial Day, six of us parked at the traffic circle on Lee Canyon Road and headed toward the picnic area on the south side of the road. Before we entered the picnic areas, we turned right to follow a horse trail up to the top of Foxtail Ridge. Up there, we followed an old service road up to Lee Canyon's water tank and Camp Foxtail's fireside amphitheater. A trail led us down to the main camp and its dining hall. The girl scouts no longer lease the property from the forest service.

Some sights at Camp Foxtail

Aspen-lined road to leading to Spring

Climbing road through Snow Patches

Nearing the Wash Crossing
On the left of the dining hall, a road starts uphill through the rest of the camp. We followed it up past the turnoff to the left, through the aspens and past the camp water/ utilities station. Here, the road continues up going steeper and steeper. This is where we began to hit large snow patches. We reached the wash crossing and I decided to put on my microspikes. The snow was steep and few people had been there blazing the trail before us. It was my first time wearing them and I decided that I love them! We crossed the wash, climbed the first hill then turned to the right. Weaving our way through the woods, we found the somewhat less steep parallel road which was completely snow covered. 

Kay shows off her MicroSpikes after crossing Wash

The parallel road is snow-covered, too!

Steep Snow up to Spring

Foxtail Spring Waterfall
Our steep climb continued until we came back to the original road that was constructed when the water pipe from the spring was laid. We crossed this road and continued up a short way to get a view of the spring area above. It would be very difficult to get to the spring like we usually do so I took a few photos from where I stood. Usually, this spring flows through the cliff walls into a cave under the cliff. Today, the water flowed over the high cliff above. A beautiful sight! Turning around, the view was of the Sisters Ridge, Nevada's Mt. Everest and Wallace Saddle. It is quite the perch! After we had our fill of gawking, we returned down the hill the same way we came up. The microspikes worked very well for me but, Cheryl, Jerry and Bob all tried their talents for using the glissade technique. Cold butts for all three! When we got back to the camp's water station, we sat there for our break. We were in no hurry so I believe the break was extended a little. Next, we headed back down to that turn on the road; now a right turn. The last hill of the day ensued. We climbed up through some more of the girl scout camp and on up to the saddle behind Pioneer Rock. We had expended a lot of energy on the climb to the spring so no one wanted to explore the humongous rock outcrop.

Cheryl and Jerry glissade down the Parallel Road

Safely back across the Wash

Pleasant Break at the Camp Water Station

Mummy Mountain from Break
After a rest, we continued along the trail up the hill and left. The top portion of this loop trail traverses laterally below the west side of Mummy Mountain; a monstrosity of a mountain. Every year, we see newly fallen trees on this trail. This year wasn't different. I don't believe anyone is maintaining this trail and it does require hikers to cross fallen trees over and under. It is a shame because everyone that we have shown this trail to falls in love with it and wants to do it again and again. We stopped for a breath at Pinnacle Point then started down the opposite side of the loop. We didn't find any snow at all on the entire loop. However, the views of the snowy north ridge were grand. We saw that the Upper Bristlecone parking lot was pretty full. Our descent return into Camp Foxtail put us right back at the dining hall. It appears that a few large trees were taken down over the winter. One of them still resides near the dining hall. It is laid in a vacant area near the road and chopped into long pieces. It was so big that we had to get our photo with it! Maybe it had been dead and needed to be thinned out as the forest service is ever vigilante about fire hazards. All that remained for the hike was to walk out the access road through the Foxtail picnic area. There are a couple of alternatives to this final portion of the hike but we wanted to walk through the picnickers on this holiday.

North Ridge from behind Pioneer Rock

Pioneer Rock Loop Trail

Rocky Outcrop on Loop Trail

Pinnacle Point and Sisters Ridge
Well, there were no picnickers at the Foxtail Picnic Area on this fine holiday, so we just walked on down and back to the cars. It was a very fun and adventurous day.

Stats: 4.7 miles; 1480' gain; 3.5 hours

Lee Peak from Loop Trail

Looping back down to Camp Foxtail

Gathering at a Felled really Big Tree

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Nuclear Loop - 5/27/23

Mummy's Nose and Mummy's Forehead from Champion Ridge

View up into Lee Canyon from Champion Ridge

Primitive Campsite on Champion Ridge

Informative start to the Hike
 Seven hikers avoided the Memorial Day weekend crowds and took our Saturday hike to the Desert View Overlook off of Deer Creek Road. At this overlook, there are many signs (all in terrible condition due to weathering) erected to explain a lot of interesting facts about the Spring Mountains and the views around. Truly, someone needs to replace these signs.) This overlook is also where many people of Las Vegas gathered to observe when one of the first atomic bombs was exploded down in the desert below. (They all may have lived to regret that.) Therefore, when I created a loop hike that began here, I named it the Nuclear Loop. We walked down the cement path to the end and climbed behind the signs to start down. Finding our way down through brush and scree, we reached the wash at the bottom on the left side of the ridge.

Elk (or Deer) remains in Wash

Seven Hikers at the Plane Crash

Newbies on the Dry Fall Cliff

The Dry Fall from Below
Our first point of interest was the remains of an elk / deer head (antlers and all) in the middle of the wash. After climbing up to the right a few feet, we started down the old trail that runs along the wash. Next, we came to an old airplane wreck. There isn't much left of it. Not long after that, we came to the very large high dry fall that always impresses the newbies. (We had two newbies today.) Around to the left, we found the way down to the wash and trail again. A large delta area indicated that we were starting into another wash that runs east. Right away, we began looking for the red survey marker in the trees on the north side of the wash. Finding this, we turned steeply uphill and found the rocky end of the ridge above.
The Wash from Overlook to Red Stick

Seven Hikers at the Red Stick (Baton Rouge)

A little Rock Climbing on the Ridge Above

Hiking alongside the Cliff on Champion Ridge
This rocky ridge is Champion Ridge. It rises above Champion Road and its primitive campsites on the other side. This ridge offers beautiful views of Mummy's Nose, the Sisters Ridge and the upper reaches of Lee Canyon. We walked along the cliff side to the top where we took our break and photo. The next section crossed Deer Creek Road and climbed the long hill of the old Deer Creek Road passing the "Staircase to Nowhere" and an old rusted Plymouth. A short climb up Rocky Peak afforded more great views before we completed the dirt road down to cross Deer Creek Road again. Here, we started down the Orange Trail Loop into the wash on the left until we came to the base of the ridge that holds the overlook signage above.

View down to the Desert Floor

Seven in Heaven

A Visit to the Old Plymouth

Desert view from Rocky Peak
The last hill of the hike is a doozy! We chose our path to the left and started climbing steeply up the ridge until we reached the cement overlook path with the signage. (There were several visitors at the overlook ... probably disappointed with not being able to read the signs.) It was a deliciously cool day with a little breeze. This is a great workout hike in only 5 miles with several interesting things to visit. A great holiday!

Stats: 5 miles; 1200' gain; 3.25 hours

Hiking Old Deer Creek Road

Down the Deer Creek Loop Trail (Orange Trail)

Hiking last steep Hill to Overlook