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Five rugged LVMC members plus seven hours of difficult driving plus four hours of hiking to climb one peak covered in thick brush plus one post-hike stop at Cracker Barrel equals... a long, but enjoyable day! Dave Luttman, Steve Newell, Alda Behie, Luba Leef and I set out to conquer yet another on the LVMC 50 Peak list. We met at 6 am and returned just before 6 pm. Our journey involved much driving on dirt roads, but except for a few short sections, the roads were in fairly good shape.
Mt. Bangs is southeast of Mesquite and is the highest peak in the Arizona section of the Virgin Mountains. Looking from Mesquite, it is the obvious high point. However, our route took us all the way around to the backside of Bangs via the thirty-something miles of dirt roads I mentioned before.
Most of the hike involves following old roads, but near the top, the roads disappear forcing you to scramble up the boulders and through VERY thick undergrowth to the summit. It was quite windy on the summit, but the views were spectacular.
Although the hike was not too long or too strenuous, we (Dave in particular) felt that we burned enough calories to justify a stop at Cracker Barrel in St. George (15 minutes out of our way) to replace said calories!
Alda and Luba looking fashionable in matching orange LVMC shirts
Since I had not climbed Sheep Peak before, and had difficulty finding a trip report from someone who had from the Hidden Forest cabin, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. I was joined by Dave Luttman of LVMC, and Peppe and Paul from the Sierra Club, who were also camping at the cabin.
Due to the uncertainty of the hiking time involved, and because I planned to hike out with Amy, Toby, and Sierra that night, we planned an early start. I awoke at 5:30 that morning to an overcast sky. I dismissed it as morning clouds, but I was surprised to find that it was actually lightly snowing! Fortunately, it lasted only for a few minutes, and we managed to avoid further precipitation, despite cloudy skies for most of the morning.
We finally set out around 7:00. With Peppe setting a Peppe-pace, we made good time. We followed a drainage from just below the cabin up to the ridgeline. From there our route was clear, even though we could not tell which peak along the ridge was Sheep Peak. Our destination looked deceptively close.
We followed the ridge west, and then south as it turned toward Sheep Peak. We still could not tell which peak was indeed Sheep Peak from this vantage point. There was a peak not far away that looked as if it could be it, but I felt that it probably was the peak about a mile and a half past it.
The ridge was a pleasant hike passing many colorful rock formations, some beautiful flowers, and several patches of snow. The ridge had many gentle ups and downs. Finally, we reached the peak that we thought might have been Sheep Peak.
As we arrived at this peak, Peppe said "the good news is that the view is great, the bad news is that we have another hour and a half to Sheep Peak." Somewhat disheartened, we continued on. Sadly, we had to descend about 600 feet to a saddle before making the final push up to the true Sheep Peak.
We finally summitted at about 11:15, and found that we were only about 50 feet higher than the previous peak! The view was quite amazing as we could see most of our route, as well as Hayford Peak, and a good view of Mt. Charleston area to the west. There were few entries in the register... we did find the entry by the LVMC trip in 2002 led by Bob Greer.
After a short lunch break, we headed down. Our fatigue made the ups and downs of the ridgeline seem magnified. Dave battled a bad case of leg cramps on the way down, but we finally made it back to the cabin just before 3:30. It was a good workout. According to Zdon's book, it was supposed to be 8 miles and 2500' gain, but according to GPS, it was 10.5 miles and 3900' gain (and it felt like at least that)!
Dave, Peppe and Paul camped at the cabin again that night, but my family and I packed up our gear, and hiked out the 5.5 miles to the car, reaching it just before dark. We were all tired (except for Sierra, who got to ride on Amy's back), but very happy after a fun weekend! Toby was proud to have completed his first true backpacking trip.
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Las Vegas Mountaineers monthly meeting this month
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Cure for the
Paleozoic carbonate rocks make up 22 of the LVMC "Classic 50 Peaks", including many of our highest mountains. These rocks are often designated by blue on geologic maps; in real life, they are dull grey, with lots of cliff bands and talus. The Paleozoic carbonate mountains pretty much all look the same, formed by the same overthrust process.
In contrast, in the northwest corner of Lake Mead is a wild variety; recent volcanic rocks and very old gneisses were juxtaposed during a violent period of geologic history. Erosion and faulting have left, colorful, seldom-visited, ragged peaks and canyons - often within view of Las Vegas. Not one of these mountains is on the "Classic 50 Peaks" list. If Nick N hadn't introduced me to this region, I would have ignored it in favor of the higher peaks. While deadly hot in summer, this region offers a nice respite during 7 months of the year.
We will review the geology of these mountains, explore how the geology is expressed in the current landforms, and describe some hikes into the maw of this rocky chaos. The diversity of flowers and wildlife may make you think twice about a region that initially looks less inviting than the surface of Mars.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Wind River Range with Gannett Peak