Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Hummingbird Gulch Short Loop - 7/24/23

AtBFers descending Hummingbird Gulch

Spring flowing well just above Lower Narrows

View from top of Pourover

Climbing up to North Loop Trailhead
Eleven club members started out from the Robbers' Roost Trailhead on Deer Creek Road for a 5.3 mile hike loop that would end in a descent of Hummingbird Gulch. Everyone was excited about the big finale but we had to begin with an interesting climb up to the Hummingbird Wash. We crossed the road and turned to the right onto Old Deer Creek Road, a track that is mostly used by mountain bikers now. Passing the first left turn, a path that leads steeply up to the North Loop Trailhead, we took the second left turn on up the old road. This trail, the Pixie Trail, zigzags up to a place below the North Loop TH. When we reached the paved road again, and turned to the left, we walked along the road to connect with the North Loop. Below us to the left, we had an overlook of our cars at the trailhead. Already, we had gained a lot in elevation!

View down to our cars at Robbers' Roost Trailhead

The Memorial Teepee

Hiking the "Trail" along the rim of the Gulch

Breaking in Hummingbird Wash
Nearing the Teepee route junction, we met up with two more club members who had missed the start. Amazingly, they had climbed up Brian's Gulley to reach us! That's steep! Anyway, we headed out to the Teepee and took in the overlooks on the way. A quick photo at the Teepee and we continued up along the rim of Hummingbird Gulch mostly on a vague game trail. As the trail became clearer, we were hiking along the upper wash of Hummingbird and found a gentle way to drop down for a break. This put us just above the Upper Narrows portion of the gulch. After the break, we enjoyed the Upper Narrows and on down to the spring which was flowing very well. Next, we took on the up and around for the Lower Narrows Pourover. I promised the newbies that the "fun" was just beginning! So, down we went.

Starting through the Upper Narrows

Deadfall on the wash Trail

Dropping down to the Lower Narrows

View from bottom of Pourover
Anyone who has been in Hummingbird Gulch (up or down) knows how much "fun" can be had here! There is a bit of scrambling, a whole lot of scree hiking and views out the wazoo! I went slow since that is my speed ... but the line behind me was understandably even more cautious. There were a few minor falls but that is also to be expected. I've done my share of falls in the steep scree when I was a newbie. Just remember that falls on the butt don't count ... only falls on the face deem really scary stories! (I believe all the falls were of the former kind.) We slowly made our way down the gulch following the trail which is in good condition. The weather had cooled about 5 degrees from the previous week and there were clouds and a breeze that passed by occasionally. We didn't suffer! At the bottom of the gulch, we hiked down through the pine glade and turned left onto the Old Deer Creek Road. A known route took us back to the trailhead and everyone was exhilarated about what we had accomplished. To them, Hummingbird Gulch was no longer a big mystery ... just some hard work! So much fun!

Stats: 5.3 miles; 1900' gain; 4.25 hours

A lot of Scree Hiking in the Gulch

Trail through the Scree

Near the bottom of Hummingbird Gulch

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

North / Black Sisters Loop - 7/17/23

Sisters Arch and Black Sister

North Sister from Sisters Ridge

Black Sister

Hiking up Galium Road
There were twelve club members parked at the chain-up area trailhead in Lee Canyon on Monday morning. For most of the hikers, this was new territory. Everyone was very excited for the hike and revved up for the steep climb to come. On the uphill end of the trailhead, there is an old mining road called Galium Road. We headed up this road until we passed the spring on the right and came to a trail leading up diagonally to the left. This trail put us on the ridge where we continued following a vague horse trail on up the ridge. The trail faded in and out but got us through the trees and up onto a bare ridge above. This bare ridge is a trailing ridge from the Sisters Ridge and the horse or elk trail continued up after hiking a saddle with amazing views end to end.

South (L) and North (R) Sisters from Approach

The Steep Ascent by the Numbers

Visit to the Sisters Arch

Climbing the last Section
To the south, we saw South Sister and North Sister. To the east, we saw Mummy Mountain across Lee Canyon. All the places we were familiar with could be seen in 3D. Our steep ascent eventually brought us to the Arch below the Sisters Ridge. It is found on the right side of the trailing ridge we were climbing. It is quite impressive and a few of the hikers followed Mike out to it to get the full experience. We waited in the shade of trees then continued up when they returned. The trail rides the top of the ridge until just below a white rocky tor. Here, the trail veers to the left and traverses up to the main Sisters Ridge. A well-deserved rest ensued! We took a look at North Sister and the "disaster gulley" that is used for its ascent then turned to hike north on a game trail. This part of the hike is the most amazing. The slope on either side of the narrow ridge is very steep and views are found everywhere! The trail traverses a small peak or two then drops down to a saddle. From there, we climbed up to the top of White Sister. Finding a seat among the rocks and view of neighboring Black Sister, we took our break. We were comforted that the remaining half of the hike was mostly downhill!

Peaks on the other side of Sisters Ridge

Mummy Mountain from Sisters Ridge

Sisters Ridge Trail

Black and White Sisters
After the break, we took the small trail that circles around the back (west) side of the huge black rock called Black Sister. On the north side of the black rock, a few of the hikers scrambled up the rock to catch the views from the top. We waited down below until they joined us again. From here, we took the traditional route down off of the Black Sister Ridge. The descent trail was very well worn ... even more than I have ever seen it. Near the bottom, we veered to the right on a diagonal trail down to the right side saddle.

Taking a break on White Sister

Black Sister on Approach

Back side of Black Sister and climb to Top

Leaving Black Sister

Again, we rested and drank some water. The temperatures were not terrible. Even though we are going through a significant heat spell, clouds were coming in and a cool breeze swept by often. The entire hike was very comfortable, weather-wise. Next, we started dropping down the scree hill until we located the horse trail on the right. A pre-hike done two days previously, told us what we needed to know here. The horse trail is still visible and I believe that a horse or elk had recently come by leaving tell-tale signs. We reminded ourselves of the usage of the nearby shallow wash and only lacked clarity on the final trail section before reaching the target saddle.

Starting Descent view Up Lee Canyon

Steep Trail down from Black Sister

Connecting with Saddle Below

Starting down Horse Trail

Down the Scree Field
Regardless, we did attain the small saddle on the trail and dipped down the other side into the scree. This trail is clear until a certain point so we turned down to the right there and "rode the scree" the rest of the way down. Next, it was a pleasant traverse through a large pine glade until we reached Lee Canyon Road and the chain-up trailhead. Our group of club hikers were a lot of fun to be with and took the whole challenging day in stride. Fun! Fun! Fun!

Stats: 3.5 miles; 1670' gain; 4.25 hours

Through the Pine Glade

Almost back to the Cars

Friday, July 14, 2023

Split Rock - 7/13/23

Mike and Chuck on the Lower side of Split Rock

Ralyn at Upper side of Split Rock

Split Rock from Wallace Saddle
Four of us went out for a pre-hike over to Split Rock in Wallace Canyon. We were a little worried about the scant horse trails that we use for that hike after leaving Wallace Saddle. We hiked up to Wallace Saddle in the usual fashion and dipped down over the side to find the trail that leads over to the plane crash site (sans airplane) is vague but still there. We found the memorial remnants of the airplane where they were before then moved on to find the horse trails. Almost out of the gate, we ran into problems. The four of us found three horse trails. I know. It happens. The problem was that none of the trails continued for very long and our hike became a wander up and down from trail to trail.

Remains of the Plane Crash
Most likely, the best route to Top Rock and down to Split Rock is by following your nose. At least, until the trails become worn again. The Spring Mountains had a good snowy winter during 2023. Horses and hikers have not been into the upper elevations for long due to lagging snow. The vague little trails that we often follow have suffered. Regardless, the four of us eventually found the Top Rock and the Split Rock as seen in the photos. Not much was learned as far as the pre-hike was supposed to teach since we had several routes going on at the same time. This is, unfortunately, the nature of this hike. After our lengthy return to Wallace Saddle, our tired legs decided to take the (also obliterated) horse trail traverse to No Name Saddle. Come on, folks. We're all in this together! Get out there and help revive the trails. More feet on these trails mean more worn trails and more pleasant hikes. You know where they are. Go get 'em!

Stats: 5.4 miles; 1560' gain; 5 hours (!)
View down from Top Rock

View to Pahrump from Split Rock