Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, NV (Trail Canyon and Vicinity)

It's been a decent hiking month for me, so far. I've been able to hike some each of the last three weekends, so there are quite a bit of hikes I need to blog, still. This is my most recent hike, but it has some time value, so I'm blogging it, first. Spring Mountains National Recreation Area is generically referred to by the locals as just "Mount Charleston." Mount Charleston is the highest peak in the area, at just under 12,000 feet, but there are plenty of other high peaks nearby. (Funny, I was going to put a link in to my blog entry from when I summited that peak, but it turns out I hiked that long before I started this blog! Tough climb, too. Oh, well.).
Hiked this area on Sunday, October 11. From Downtown Las Vegas, you take U.S. 95 north, through Summerlin, past the Beltway, and on towards Reno. Then exit at NV-157 and head west. The last times I drove up this way, U.S. 95 was a divided, but not limited-access, and you had to pull over into a left turn lane to cross over to NV-157. Now, however, it's a regular, three-lanes in each direction freeway, with a regular off-ramp on your right. There's a diverging diamond interchange underneath the freeway, however, so you do need to pay a little attention as you exit, then go under the freeway, towards Mount Charleston.
The off-ramp is labeled as Exit 96, Kyle Canyon Road. That exit is about 16 miles north of the "Spaghetti Bowl." From the exit, it's about 21 miles on NV-157 to Trail Canyon trailhead. That'll be on your right, just a little after the fire station. From NV-157, I followed a sign to turn right, and drove the tenth of a mile or so to the parking area for Trail Canyon. Even at about 4pm, the lot was still mostly full.
Just before I got there, and right after I passed the fire station, I noticed a splash of color, on my left. There was a bit of a ravine on the left side of the road. Tall mountain peaks were further that way, and the sun, while still hours from officially setting, was about to be blocked by those high peaks. If I waited, those aspen would be in shadow. So I turned around, found a place to park, and walked along the ravine, past the fire station. Walked within 1/2 mile of that area for well over half an hour, just clicking at the trees. Lost the light before that. Then headed up canyon again, and decided to try Trail Canyon.
Most of the pictures here were from that hike. Probably went about a mile and a half up the trail. Not far, because of my late start and slow pace, as I kept stopping for pictures. Most were taken around a spot with a nice overview of a ravine, towards and outcropping, and a high ridge, beyond. Colorful trees on the intermediate ridge, and also colorful trees behind me. Because of my short little hike, there weren't many open vistas, so it was mostly just individual trees, or a couple of trees, lined up, providing the color. Still, I enjoyed the hint of a Rocky Mountain fall, even not in the Rocky Mountains.
Most recent years, I feel as though I've headed to Cedar Breaks for fall, around Columbus Day, or, as is more common, Indigenous People's Day. However, in reviewing my hiking blog, I don't see a lot of color until I go back to 2015. This was Cedar Breaks, and this was Kolob Terrace Road. I have more recent hikes, but not a lot of color. I do recall that last year up there seemed pretty un-colorful.
Not sure if I'll try to make it up to the Spring Mountains again this weekend. The trail seemed pretty crowded, even with my late start. That's not my confort zone, right now. May try to hit some of the lower altitude areas of Zion then, or maybe a few weeks after? Not sure. I really want to try to hit the east slope of the Sierra. I've been wanting to do that for several years, but that just hasn't worked out. Lots of fires and stuff to deter a trip there, and, now, both fires and COVID.
Funny thing about this last hike was that I've hiked in the Spring Mountains, before, and, on one of those hikes, I remember walking through a thick stand of aspen, and thinking, "I should come back here in the fall." But I don't recall which hike that was! Another weird thing about this post is that I've managed, without knowing how, to return the post to the format I used to prefer. I don't get it. Oh, third weird thing was as I started driving down and came to the fire station, the outline of wildlife crossing the highway made me slow down. I assumed "deer," but when I got closer, the outline looked very feline, with a long, skinny tail. I'm pretty sure that was a mountain lion. That would mean weird guy on the mountain bike I saw making dog noises as he road almost make sense. But, more likely, no, the weird guy was just a weird guy.

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