Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Turtlehead

A prominent escarpment, Turtlehead rises several thousand feet above Red Rock Canyon. The adventurous are given a panoramic view of the rock formations below as well as the snow-covered mountains to the north, Las Vegas to the east and even a glimpse of Lake Mead in the distance. A rough trail, 2.5 miles one way, leads around the formation and up to a saddle on the back side from where its an easy but steep hike to the top. From the parking lot, you climb 2000 feet.

We hit the trail at 9:30 AM. The weather was warm, promising to be in the upper 70s by mid-day. At first, we hiked along a wash and by sandstone formations, a blending of red and white rock, that lined both sides of the dry wash. This winter has been very wet for the Southwest. Grasses are out, but it’s still a bit early for too many flowers at this elevation. We spotted a few Indian paintbrushes, growing in the shade of some greasewoods. Plant-life here is typical Mojave: cactus, a few Joshua Trees, some hardy shrubs, yuccas and such. After making our way around the escarpment, we left the wash and climbed up a steep canyon. By far the most difficult section of the hike as there was plenty of climbing and rock scrambling and little hiking. Several times we stopped to catch our breath and to look at the desert landscape around us. Geologically, the rocks changed. In addition to the ubiquitous sandstone, there was evidence of volcanic activity from a long ago era. As we climbed higher, nearer to the saddle that connected Turtlehead to the ridges to the north, the plant-life also began to change. Junipers first appeared, then they were mixed with some pinion. The more hardy shrubs of the Mojave were replaced by sagebrush. At the saddle, we turned south and headed for the peak. Invigorated by the scenery, we quickly scrambled up, making it to the top in an hour and forty minutes.


The wind blew strong on the peak, cooling our sweat-soaked bodies, forcing P to quickly put on a jacket and me to done a long shelve shirt. We sat and enjoyed the view, taking pictures, eating a Cadberry Chocolate bar, and basking in the sun behind some rocks that shielded us from the wind. We had approximately 30 minutes on the top before two men who we’d passed about halfway up joined us. A few more joined us shortly afterwards. We stayed nearly an hour, before heading back down. It only took an hour for us to make it back to the car.

2 comments:

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  2. Oh my goodness sounds like a lovely trip...when we first went to Red Rock Canyon it wasn't as developed with the complete state park winding through it...but it is a treasure and everytime we go we bring people there that had no idea it was even there....they fly in to Vegas and just hang out about the strip maybe tour downtown and the fabulous grave yard for old billboard signs and old casino signs from years ago, and many haven't even made it out to Howard Hughes old place...and the German actress Vera or something like that owned it before he bought it...the mountains in the background out there are lovely!Thanks for sending me this post! :)

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