November 3, 2011

Liberty Arch Bell #2 10-11-2011

Standing inside the Liberty Arch Bell
It had been over a year and half since my husband and I did this hike. (see my blog from last year May 2010) We have been hiking with groups for a while now that we decided to do this hike by ourselves. It is not hard hike at all, but rather, so pretty. And we are more physically fit (as far as hiking goes) this year so we knew this hike was a piece of cake!
We saw a family of big horn sheep. They were really close!

The difference between the first time and this time around is season. It was in May and I remember it was really hot. We didn't have all the hiking gears and gadgets that we have now,,like CamelPak. Carrying CamelPak on our back for water and everything else makes a hundred times easier than carrying heavy water bottles. 

Secondly, we made a difference by going up all the way to the Liberty Arch Bell and back side of it. Last time we took a picture having the Arch as background because it didn't look like it was climbable. This time we were more exploratory so just had to go up to see what was there!
taking pic from where I stand (inside the Arch).  Hoover Dam bypass bridge is in distance
 As last time, we proceeded to the observation point for Colorado River. When you come to the Liberty Arch Bell, this spot is a MUST place to stop by. There, we had snack and took pictures! The Colorado River below seems so close but it is actually 1000 ft below us!

I love this picture below because my husband posted on the facebook titling "my wife my life" The sweetest thing to see from loving husband!
We have once mapped out where the route somehow connects to get on the Arizona Hot Spring hiking trail (see my blog). They both have a same trail head. This is on top of the hill, and the Hot Spring is down in the canyon. The theory sounds simple,, just get down the canyon. This is the third difference we made,, attempting on finding the Hot Spring trail. We derailed ourselves off of the current course and tried to find the path, but we kept getting to the dead end,, cliffs and drop offs.  Since we didn't want daylight to run out, we decided to get back to the original trail to go back to the car. Here we just created another challenge to come back to next time!

November 1, 2011

Charleston Peak via airplane gully 10-18-2011

This is a second post on Charleston Peak from 10-25-2011 via South and North Loop hike. The airplane gully is a shorter route to the peak but requires class 3 and 4 climbing. It is NOT a trail hike. I wanted to post some pictures that highlight this particular route and how they are different from the South and North loop hike. Although we were forced to turn back around near the peak due to the snow and ice, it still took us about 7 hours altogether. It was only because we kept going in shallow snow before turning around, which slowed us way down. 
family of deer passed by us
He is pointing the peak on the left

This route starts from MaryJane Falls trail head. Then it folks off to the left for the Big Fall, to the right for the MaryJane Falls. We take the left. This hike is to go through the rocks and boulders, going along side the wash. There were lots of debris of tree and branches. It seemed like it rained hard recently.
This is snow that has turned into permanent ice. This area never see the sun so it does not melt.
Hop, step, jump. Just following the wash for about 2 hours we get to the Big Fall. Normally there is a water fall but today we didn't see any.

After the Big Fall, we started climbing like this. These are sharp rocks, climbing up using upper body strength.

Ok. Climbed up the rocks. This is what we see in front of our eyes. And this is what we have to go up.
Now we crossed over a field from one mountain to the other, passing through another hill/small mountain. There is really no marked trail on this route so our good judgement of direction is required. In this case, my husband is an excellent navigator. He has done this route once and remembers really well. At some parts, we are going up steeply in the middle of branches and fallen trees.
On top of this particular hill we took a break. It looks like camping site for people who pass through. Camp site has been set up on flatter ground and camp fire pits have been built.
Ok. Break time is over. We went down the hill and back on another hill. One side has snow, the other side has none. Do you see the contrast!? Where sun shines and where sun doesn't shine.
We kept moving, going into the mountain side below the Charelston Peak. But the side we had to go up to was where Sun doesn't shine. Lots of snow was still there and it gave us hard time proceeding/ ascending. Snow has turned into ice and it was really slippery. On top of it, because it was mountain side, our footing was unstable.
I stopped at one spot. He proceeded a little further just to see if it was climbable. NO. After the point where he stands, it is a long steep scree with big loose rock. When he hiked last time where there was no snow, the scree rock was so loose that every 2 steps made one. No way to be on it where snow covers the scree and who know the snow has turned into ice there as well. It was our turning around point. We don't take risk if there is even a slight doubt. Bummed but we were satisfied with the decision to turn back at this point.
We are determined to come back this route next summer where there is absolutely NO snow!!!

Charleston Peak via Southloop and back on Northloop 10-25-2011

This is a second attempt from last week. Except, last week we were trying to get to the Charleston Peak via airplane gully, which is a lot steeper but shorter distance. Because we were so bummed that we couldn't reach the top, we are back for the same summit but different route. Since there is still or already snow at the peak area, we've decided to go on safer, and well-marked trail. Since we've been doing lots of class 3 and 4 hiking, thought this was going to be boring trail hiking. WELL, we were wrong! The night before, we mapped it out. There are Southloop and Northloop. Southloop shows 8.2 miles but very strenuous. Northloop is 10.8miles and strenuous. We've decided to climb up Southloop trail and come down on Northloop. This will be about 19 miles round trip. When we got to the trail head next morning around 7:30a (we were already behind the schedule), it was closed but they have created an alternate route TO the trail head. This was about 1 mile addition to the 19 miles. 
Cathedral Rocks
Anyways, for those who know about Mt Charleston hiking courses, the trail starts as if you are going to Cathedral Rocks, then the trail folks off to the side which takes us to the Charleston Peak.

Nice view!
Our goal was to be at the peak around 12p for lunch, allowing ourselves about 4-5hours climbing up. The trail is on the Mt Charleston hiking map, and well-marked. From the trail head to the peak was about 4200 elevation gain. Since there is no rock climbing, this was more about extreme cardio exercise. We took lots of pictures on the way up since the Southloop goes around the mountain edge and we could see our surroundings on how high we were gaining in elevation quickly. I must admit that the trail keeps going forever and every so many minutes we had to rest to catch our breath.
Here, I still look fresh!

At this point, it was about 9:30a, climbing about 2 hours. We noticed that the trail was going like switchbacks. And this gets steeper and steeper. This is an extreme cardio I have NEVER done on any hikings. I'm telling you, this switchback is brutal! I work out 4 days a week, cardio exercise every time. I should be used to it. But my heart was going really fast. This goes on for next 2 straight hours! I thought I was gonna die!
Observation point in between switch backs. 
We took a short break in the middle of the switchbacks, which I realized was not a good idea. It made me more tired starting back the climbing on switchbacks and took me a while to get back in the rhythm again. When the switchback was done, we were on top of A mountain top, not our peak yet. From there we could see Griffith Peak on one side and another long ridge to the Charleston Peak on the other. The trail that go through the mountain ridge line is pretty flat, as if we were going through field of shrub and woods. This ridge line is on top of a mountain and so it was VERY windy and cold. We got windbreakers out, doubling up the gloves and kept walking. 
After long long and cold trail walking, we came out to the observation spot. The view was great, but so windy and cold! We know that we've come to quite far and have been walking forever, but we see the Charleston Peak still SO FAR AWAY!!! At this point it was already noon and seeing at least 1-2 hours to go was very tiring thoughts.
 After a certain area, the mountain becomes bald all of a sudden.
It's cold. It's extremely windy,, probably 60-70mph wind. I weigh 100lb. I could barely hold myself on the ground. This condition lasts for good another 1 hour and half. We passed the airplane crush site that killed 14 people from 1955 Cold War era. Some debris are still there.
Leaving the crash site, all we got to aim was the summit. The final push to the summit was beyond what I have expected. So cold, So windy, So steep. I am getting wind burn on my cheek. I could have stopped but we were to the point where there was no turning back. My thigh joint was hurting from the brutal switchbacks earlier. I blanked my brain out and just concentrated on moving one feet forward at a time for next excruciating 45 minutes. All of a sudden, my tear came up and had hard time breathing right. Not only crying but also thinner air made my breath even chokier. My husband was right behind me so he didn't know that my tear was streaming down my cheek till we reached the summit. I had hard time catching my breath. He said at later time that he thought he had to call for a rescue.  Thinking back now, I was overwhelmed of misery in hiking in such a condition and my body was tired. He has done this hike twice previously and said it was nothing like this brutal.(the weather condition makes it 100 times worse). There is a bunker that blocks the wind at the summit. It was filled with snow but we managed to sit down for a while and rested. Thought we didn't want to stand in that wind for one more minute, we had to take pictures!
It was 1:30p. Soon after we signed in the log book, we hurried down via Northloop. We have another 10.8 miles to hike down. So we were really in hurry trying not to lose daylight. At times we had to pass through area that had ice and needed extra caution. Those part slowed us down but as we descend, trail becomes easier and we were practically jogging down.
no more snow
Jogging down at times, still took us 4 1/2 hours to get back down to the trail head. Northloop is daunting long and not as pretty as Southloop. We are basically in a valley of Kyle canyon and couldn't see out. It was 10hours shift. Hiked 20 miles! This is my record. Feeling of accomplishment was so great that I can think about my half-giving up emotional crying as comical. 

We planned to have dinner at Quiznos using groupon. We don't normally eat fast food, something clearly labeled as "not healthy" food. But we chugged down that 8 inch sandwiches and chips. The creamy broccoli soup was so yummy.

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