Saturday, March 15, 2014

Global Peak - 9 of Clubs - March 15, 2014

On a lovely, sunny and somewhat windy Sunday in March we set out to conquer Global Peak: a longish, challenging peak located in the southern part of Red Rock.

The hike started out in exciting fashion when we encountered this little desert tortoise friend.  He (or she, I have no idea) wasn't feeling very friendly and stayed burrowed in his/her shell while we stood around and gawked.  It was the first time I had seen one and I was pretty excited.  These guys are so fascinating to me; they live to be 50-80 years old!!

After that excitement, we continued along our way through a fairly long wash until we got to the scrambling.  It was a bit brushy, which resulted in quite a few scratches on my legs.

After you start scrambling, you gain some decent elevation pretty quickly.  Although exhausting, this quick ascent can make for some dramatic pictures.
About half to two-thirds up the hike, it gets a bit more challenging, beginning with a rope climb.
Climb that rope
Husband action shot
There were also a few ledges that don't look bad in the pictures, but I remember being a bit freaked out by them.

The amazing thing about my friends is that we are all out on the hike because of our love of fitness and nature.  Most of the people on this hike didn't even need the 9 of Clubs that you get for completing this peak.  In fact, at least three of the people on this hike were already 53ers (they had already completed all 52 peaks) long before this day.
My husband is able to hike with me less than half of the time, so we like to get pictures together when possible.  Plus, the backdrop is so amazing to me!
On our way down, we realized that we had inadvertently done a remarkable job at coordinating our outfits so we could create a lovely rainbow!!  Rainbow is my favorite color!!
Finally, just a note that when you're down climbing something that seemed so doable on the way up, sometimes you just feel more comfortable scooting down the sandstone on your butt.  If you choose this course, which I often do, tearing pants is just a risk you have to accept at that point.  
Seriously, my friend Richard used to go through about a pair of pants every weekend until he started getting kevlar patches sewn on the backs of his pants.  I'm not even joking.  **kevlar, the stuff tout of which bullet-proof vests are made**

This was kind of a quick post, but if I'm being honest, the hike wasn't super memorable.  I'd probably do it again if my friends were going to be out there because I like spending time with them.  At the same time, there are other hikes (like Rainbow, Pine Creek, Turtlehead Jr., Oak Creek Overlook, etc.) that I'd much rather do.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bridge Vista - March 9 - Queen of Diamonds

So, this second weekend in March, I was apparently not satisfied to hike to Eva's Tower and celebrate my birthday.  I obviously needed to do another, even harder hike.  For Sunday, Bridge Vista for the Queen of Diamonds was on the menu.

The Bridge Vista hike is approximately 8 miles (roundtrip) with 3150 feet elevation gain and starts from the Pine Creek Trailhead.

The first 30-60 minutes of the hike we were hiking and scrambling over boulders to the back of the canyon.  We even had to maneuver around some rather large puddles.
The fun of boulder hoping through the wash was soon over and it was time to get to work climbing out of the canyon.  We started ascending the sandstone on steep sandstone slab.  And before long, we arrived at "the black wall."  It's a really great little free climb (no ropes or harnesses of course).  It's maybe 15-20 feet tall and if I were to rate it, I'd probably say it is in the realm of 5.2-5.3.  It's definitely in the realm of class 5 for sure.
Now, you can totally take a slightly different route to work around the wall and it's just as fast.  But, where's the fun in that?  That being said, I definitely availed myself of this work around on the way down.  There's no way that I was going to down-climb this wall.
After the wall and some additional light scrambling, we came to what seemed like a never ending slab of sandstone.  Maybe I'm exaggerating, but I would guess you gain 1000 feet trudging up sandstone and, oh yeah, the slab is fully exposed to the sun.  Sounds fun, right?  There aren't many more pictures because I started getting a bit grumpy.
Anyway....  once you get to the top of the never ending slab, you reach a saddle.  If you turn to the right, you'll head out to Bridge Point (more on that another day).  To get to Bridge Vista, you have to descend the other side of the saddle/ridge and head to the right.  You have to hike through some loose rock (not my favorite), but eventually you arrive at this lovely rope to climb:
At the top of that rope is the peak!  Yes!!  Another one in the bag.
Several of my friends list this hike in the "not doing again" category.  It's definitely not one that I would recommend on an even remotely warm day.  And that slab requires some serious work.  But, I definitely wouldn't put it on my not-doing-again list.  More importantly, it couldn't go on my not-doing-again list because I still needed to do Bridge Point, which follows the same route until the saddle at the top of the slab.

Plus, I can never complain when I spend a day hiking with some of the best friends I've ever met.

My 30th Birthday Hike to Eva's Tower (aka the best birthday eve

I decided that I was disappointed about not keeping up with posting pictures and a bit of a narrative about my various outdoor adventures.  So, I'm going to attempt to recall what I can and hopefully backdate the posts for posterity.  I'm more than 15 months behind at this point....we'll see how this goes.  

First up:  That time back in 2014 when I celebrated my 30th birthday with some of the best friends possible doing my favorite thing (hiking).
In my quest to get as close as possible to finishing all 52 peaks before moving from Vegas, next up was Eva's Tower for the 10 of Clubs.  The hike is 5 miles (round-trip) with about 2000 ft of elevation gain.

The starting point for this Red Rock Canyon hike is at an unmarked pull-off before you reach the Pine Creek trailhead.  We began with an approach hike across the desert that seemed to be of average length (~1-1.5 miles).
After the approach hike, the fun began with some great scrambling.  The route travels through a rabbit hole (which was a perfect opportunity for a group pic)
The route also requires traversing a ledge:
I was intimidated when everyone was talking about this ledge, but it ended up being almost nothing.  The "ledge" was wider than I expected, had great handholds, and the drop off didn't seem all that far.
Ledge Photo Op
Adam traversing the ledge
After the ledge, we had to climb a 10-ish foot tall chimney:
And, after 30-45 minutes of additional rock scrambling, I found myself at the final scramble: the summit block.
On this day, I figured out that one of the best thing about having friends that have far superior athletic abilities is that they can surprise you with a birthday celebration at the peak!
Streamers and cupcakes!! Courtesy of the wonderful Jenny!
After lots of snacks and the obligatory peak photos, it was time to descend.  But, because it was my birthday, we had decided to descend a different route that entailed a rappel!  It turned out to be a little bit of an underwhelming rappel and we probably could have down-climbed it, but we brought our harnesses, so we used them.
It was actually Adam's first rappel and he was a rappelling champion.
The rest of the descent was pretty noneventful.  But, once we returned to our cars, the fun was not over.  My wonderful friend Jenny hosted a breakfast for dinner (my favorite kind of dinner) birthday celebration at her house! I'm pretty sure that I'll remember this birthday as the best one in recent memory for many years.  I felt really lucky to have an awesome husband (who told Jenny how much I love funfetti cake) and such amazing friends!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

East Peak (6 of Diamonds) - February 2, 2014

So, this is going to be a short post, for a short hike, that we decided to do at the last minute.  Specifically, East Peak is a peak on the south end of the red rock peaks.  To get the peak requires a quick little approach hike and a lovely scramble up 1500 feet over 3 miles.

It was a quick trip because this hike also happened to be on Super Bowl Sunday and we all had plans to watch the game.  So, for that reason, there aren't many pictures.
Because this peak is so far south in Red Rock, the view from the top is quite a bit different than most other peaks that I've done so far.
The hike itself wasn't anything too terribly exciting.  It was a bit stressful at times because lots of the rocks that we scrambled up were a little slanted and it sort of felt like the mountain was trying to throw you off of it.  Not exactly a comforting feeling.  However, I had good sticky shoes on my feet and I had great, helpful, encouraging friends with me.  I was in good hands =)
I made it to the top, but I'm not sure I'll be back to this one anytime soon.
This is definitely one of the shorter hikes that I've done with Hiking Las Vegas, but it was super enjoyable and had a couple of challenging spots.  Most of the challenge was mental because of the slanted rocks, but, as the Beatles said, I g[o]t by with a little help from my friends. =)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lost Peak - March 2, 2014 - 8 of Clubs

Like many peaks in Red Rock, there are multiple ways to get to Lost Peak.  And, as with most of the peaks in Red Rock with multiple routes, I chose the wimpy least scary route possible.  The alternate route is called "Lost with the Ledges."  I've seen pictures of those ledges and they definitely don't look big enough to even deserve to be called ledges.  The only downside to choosing the "safe" route is that the pictures aren't exactly the most exciting pictures you'll ever see.
All that being said, this is a great hike, especially when you're looking for something a little less technical.  I've actually done most of this hike previously when I got the card for North Peak in February of 2013.

The trailhead for this non technical route is located approximately 2 miles up Rocky Gap Road inside Red Rock National Conservation Area.  If you're not familiar with Rocky Gap Road, this means that you'll only be able to reach this trailhead by foot or in a high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle.  Once we found the right place to start, we just hiked up the unmarked but very well defined trail and trekked up to the ridge line.  When we started getting near the ridge line, the route became less of a dirt path and required more following cairns up the sandstone slab.  The route finding wasn't that difficult because we were literally aiming for the ridge.

After we made it to the ridge, we simply traversed to the south and a little east along the beautiful ridge line.
If you look closely, you can see hikers coming across the ridge line in the upper left corner.
The views from the ridge line and the peaks (we did both Lost Peak and North Peak) were stunning!
Looking south towards Ice Box Canyon and Bridge Mountain.
Looking more to the North where you could see Griffith Peak covered in snow.  Later in the day, on our way down, you couldn't even see Griffith because there were thick snow clouds covering the peak.
After traversing the ridge line, we did a teensy bit of scrambling to make it out on to Lost Peak (yay! my 27th card!!) before heading towards North Peak, the tallest peak in Red Rock.  Lost Peak is sometimes referred to as Lost Creek Peak, and on our quick jaunt over to North Peak, it wasn't very difficult to find lost creek.
Okay, this is where this post gets a little bit ridiculous in the length department...  After we got back down to the cars, a couple of my very good friends agreed to teach me how to rappel!!  It's been six months since I first learned to rappel and it still scares the crap out of me, but I'm glad that I have a few rappelling experiences under my belt.
The most uncomfortable part of rappelling is the first few steps when you're convincing your body that it is totally normal to be parallel to the ground walking down a wall of rock.
On top of the rock is the best, most trustworthy teacher.  I feel so fortunate to have such wonderful friends!
Rappelling makes me think of Ender's Game when Ender orients himself in zero gravity by saying "the gate is down."  I just kept telling myself that "the wall is down," and it was surprisingly effective.
Before long, I felt surprisingly comfortable with rappelling on that particular rock (it was only about 25 feet...I'm still working my way up to longer rappels) and I was ready to ham it up for the camera =)
Wow.  Before I started re-writing and editing this post tonight, nearly 6 months later, I hadn't remembered what a great day March 2, 2014 was!!  Just another day of getting a great workout with amazing friends and learning a lot of new tricks along the way!  Reliving these days now that I'm very close to moving away from Vegas is making me feel very blessed to have had the experiences that I've had in this amazing community and extremely sad that I won't have additional experiences like this every weekend next winter too.