LA MADRE PEAK
PAUL'S PADDLING ADVENTURE
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LA MADRE PEAK
This trip can be easily summed up in one word …. “Windy!!!!”
La Madre Peak is the highest limestone peak to the north as seen from Red Rock. Harlan organized this trip to take us to the peak from the backside originating from a dirt road off Kyle Canyon Rd. We hiked the peak on December 13th. This was the day before the first in a series of snowstorms to blow through the region. Thus we got to experience very very strong winds. We estimate the winds were up to hurricane force if not more.
Jose Witt, Fred Longacre, Doug Hladky, Frank Simpson, Susan Rufkahr, Ali Haghi, and I met Harlan at the Walmart parking lot on the SW corner of Rainbow and Cheyenne at 07:00. We then carpooled into two vehicles. Just as we turned onto Kyle Canyon Rd, we met Courtney Purcell and his girlfriend, named DB, who followed us. We turned onto a dirt road after about 8.5 miles. At this point we noticed the teardrop-shaped scar below the ridge of a peak. It is a large block slide/landslide below La Madre. Our route was to take us above that slide area following the ridgeline to the peak. The first part of the road was very smooth for any type of vehicle. After about 2.75 miles we turned onto a different dirt road that required a high-clearance vehicle and 4-wheel drive. We traveled up that road for about another 2.75 miles until we reached the point were we really couldn’t travel safely any further. The road did continue if you had a really good vehicle.
View of the block slide near the summit ridge
We started the hike at about 08:25. The temperature was about 34 degrees with some light winds. The entire route was through chaparral following hills and ridgelines on the way to the peak. As we continued higher, the winds got stronger. Also, the storm clouds over the Spring Mountains kept getting darker, bigger, and moving closer to us. We were easily experiencing tropical storm-force winds. At one point while I was taking a movie showing how windy it was I asked Susan for a quote, “Right now Ed Forkos would say 'this is what mountaineering is all about!'”
The winds continued to increase as we went higher. At one point I was walking on a flat area only to be blown off balance by the strong gust. Good thing I was not on a ridge during that gust. Also while ascending the last stretch, a few of us simply stood up straight, put our hands out, and let the wind literally push us up a bit. All of us were having a great time with the hike, amazed with the strength of the winds.
Harlan's Halloween face... run children, run!
DB and Ali didn’t make it to the peak. Ali was a good man by staying behind with DB since she was getting cold and it was only going to be colder on the peak. Courtney went on and summited another peak or two beating us back to the car.
We took our time getting to the top at around 10:55. Most of us hunkered down on the peak trying not to be blown off. We tried to get good pictures, but it was hard. At one point while I was taking a movie, I was blown over. I laughed through the entire experience and I got it all on tape. Any of us taking pictures had very cold hands due to the wind chill. I had discovered later that the weather station at the Red Rock Visitor Center went down at 60 mph winds. Therefore, we have to assume since we were 4,000 feet higher that we were experiencing hurricane force winds at about 8,200 feet elevation. We did not have lunch and only spent about 15 to 20 minutes on the peak. I made a phone call to my wife and parents letting them know I was fine. Even though it was windy and about freezing up there, I managed to stay warm.
We descended fairly quickly meeting up with Ali and DB. We got back to the cars about 13:00. Thanks to Harlan for a great memorable trip. I definitely want to go back up there again when it is not so cold and windy.
PAUL'S PADDLING ADVENTURE
The ten-person December kayaking trip down the Colorado River with Paul Des Roches as river guide and trip leader, and Snafu Mueller as anchorman and sheep herder, was “perfect”. The day was a complete success, right down to seeing the one person who really deserved a bath in the 52 degree Colorado River water (Doug Faust), get it.
An appreciated thank you goes out to all participants for their timely arrival skills (Boulder City 5:30 am).
After signing release forms and such, we loaded up in the 15 passenger van for the beginning of what turned out to be a beautiful and fun-filled day. The weather was not so bad while we packed our dry bags and prepared for the launch, but as launch time (7:00 am) drew nearer, our forecast became more and more bleak.
I was pretending not to notice. I was slightly shell-shocked from phone calls beginning at around 4:15 am from people still snug in their beds looking out of their bedroom windows seemingly looking for any excuse not to go do pre-dawn water sports in December, telling me that flags were standing horizontal in the wind like they had been decoupaged. My excitement waned a bit but I hid that with what turned out to be my default response for the day: ”Perfect!”. I couldn’t think of anything sensible to say, so it seemed appropriate to sound crazy! Maybe the root-word is somehow related to confidence.
Anyway, we got to the launch site after Kylie from Desert Adventures had scared the hell out of everyone with promises of refunds if anybody wanted to back-out of the trip…..and that she runs this trip daily year-round, and that she wouldn’t herself go in this wind…creating a sense of impending doom (and that silence you get that can only be associated with a bunch of people wondering to themselves “What the heck am I doing here?”). All I could say was “Perfect!”
Down at the water, the wind was not whipping up much, and we had blue skies teasing of a potentially beautiful day…somewhere. I taught the basics of sea-kayak maneuvering in a little bay just below the dam.
Then off to Sauna Cave! Sauna Cave is a 170 foot deep tunnel that was dug into the bedrock below the dam so that the bedrock could be evaluated for stability in preparation for the building of Hoover Dam. The tunneling crew hit a hot spring vein and was forced to abandon the project as very hot water poured out into this tunnel, flooding it. The bedrock evaluation was never completed, leaving the structural integrity of the Dam in question (just a test to see if anybody is even reading this). Today, nearly a hundred years later, the tunnel remains, and is now part of the Black Canyon tour. Everybody in our party waded into the hot knee-deep water and walked to the back of the tunnel, flashlights in hand, to check out the solidified salt formations that have accumulated on the walls over the many decades.
Wide-eyed with wonder, Kahmien exits Sauna Cave
After leaving Sauna Cave, we had glorious sunshine and very mild winds for the rest of the trip. We stopped at Arizona Hot Springs for lunch and stayed there for about an hour. The water was just right and once settled in, nobody wanted to leave.
We paddled our way to the destination take-out "Willow Beach" and found Kylie amazed that we had arrived safely. The winds at Boulder City were gusting to over 50 miles per hour and we were informed that our land support (van and driver) had accepted our plight to be lost-at-sea. Somehow the winds never got to us!
Paul needs some serious interest to pull another one of these off, so bug the heck out of him if you are interested in this kind of fun and want more of these trips!
CLICK HERE FOR LVMC EVENT SCHEDULE
The Las Vegas Mountaineers monthly meeting this month is on Tuesday, February 24th at Sahara West Library, 9600 W. Sahara. Meeting time is 7:00 p.m.