Sunday, September 17, 2023

Mountain Springs Ridges - 9/16/23

View from a Block on Block Ridge

Juniper berries to Wilson Peak

Making our way from Gully Crossing to Upper Cairn Trail

Old Road to Gully Crossing
It was another delightful morning up in the peaks and ridges behind Mountain Springs, Nevada. Our hike would take us up a ridge to the escarpment rim, on up to Mountain Springs Peak and back down via a ridge north of the ascent that we will name Block Ridge, for lack of a better name. This particular ridge is marked with four rock outcrops that block the way of anyone hiking down. The top "block" has a square side that runs along the Mountain Springs Trail and is used as a weather shelter at times. We started out from the Mountain Springs Pass Trailhead, climbed up the first hill of Heartbreak Hill and found our shortcut trail to the next dirt road. About half a mile into the hike, we crossed the large gully to the left.

Mt. Potosi from Roundabout

Starting up the Upper Cairn Trail

Following the Upper Cairn Trail

A Cairn on the Upper Cairn Trail
We continued by following the trail on the other side up to a small roundabout. The Lower / Upper Cairn Trail leads out on the opposite side. A little further up this trail, the Upper Cairn Trail turns off to the left. The trail is fairly well marked even though many of the cairns have been knocked over. The best rule of thumb is to adhere to the top of the ridge all the way up. At one point, you may discover a trail veering down to the north side. Supposedly, this trail leads down to the wash and road that we would eventually descend. However, our route continued up our ridge until we junctioned with the Mountain Springs Trail. Turning to the left, we followed this main trail past the top of Block Ridge and on to the familiar Mountain Springs Peak.

Mountain Springs, Nevada from Ascent Ridge (Pasrump Peak in distance)

Connecting with the Mountain Springs Peak Trail

Top of Block Ridge

Windy and Black Velvet Peaks from Trail
As we hiked the escarpment trail, we admired the Sandstone Bluffs below us to our right. At the peak, we sat for our break to enjoy this always magnificent view. After a snack and a few photos, we started down the same way we came until we reached the upper side of Block Ridge. There is a vague trail where several hikers have come before us that leads around to the ridge and starts down. There is a nice clear saddle then the second block rock outcropping forces you to find your way around. Next comes a descent and another outcrop.

Taking our break on Mountain Springs Peak

Starting down Block Ridge (Second Block ahead)

Surveying our route from the Third Block on Ridge

Descent to a Low Saddle
Making our way around this blockage, the trail seems to be undecided. We hemmed and hawed a little but decided to continue down the ridge toward a deeper saddle. Just before reaching the low point, a sort of clearing appeared to our left where there is a cluttered wash. The west side of the small wash seemed most appropriate to descend so down we went to the main wash below. Even though the work we did on the way down was foreboding, the main wash was surprisingly welcoming. There was a faint trail running through the pleasant, albeit narrow, wash leading us directly to a road junction below. We turned left onto the road, climbed a hill to the top of the next ridge, curved to the right and climbed up the road lined with a grove of prickly pears. At the top of the next hill, there is a large cairn with rocks spelling out "354." 

Easy does it into the wash Below

Following the wash to a road Junction

Mt. Potosi from the Road Junction

Road and cacti lead to the 354 Cairn
The rain washed road continued down toward the town and after a while, we noticed a small trail on the left side. The suggestion of a shortcut down to the mess of roads below where we wanted to go was enough to get us going on a small adventure. The trail was very vague and seemed to have been made by an equestrian. Finally, after several arroyo crossings, we connected with our target road and continued on our way back to the car. It was a fun morning full of adventure and good friends while welcoming Charlie back from his "epic" adventure on Mt. Kilimanjaro!

Stats: 5.1 miles; 1400' gain; 3.75 hours
354 Cairn
354 (?)
Following the Road down to the mess of Old Roads

Mess of Old Roads!

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