Monday, July 27, 2009

Bonanza Peak Trip Report

On Sunday (7-26), I led hikers to Bonanza Peak in Mt. Charleston. This is a remote peak in Mt. Charleston. We met at 7 am and arrived at the trailhead by 8 am. Although a passenger car can make it to the trailhead, a high clearance vehicle is recommended. The last two miles is a good gravel road.

The hike to the 10,400 foot peak is almost all trail with the last few hundred yards being an easy class 1, cross country, trek. The Bonanza Trail actually goes all the way over to Lee Canyon ending near the ski area. We made good time to the saddle which is a decision point. To the south stands Bonanza Peak, to the north Willow Peak. In my opinion Willow Peak is the least desirable peak in Charleston.

From the saddle it's about one mile to the peak. Since the official trail does not go to the peak, it's always a challenge to know when to leave the trail. Here's the trick: Continue on the trail ascending several sets of switchbacks. The trail levels and you pass a huge cairn. You can depart here, but there's a better jumping off spot. Continue on the trail until you see a drainage marked with several cairns. Simply follow the cairns a little over 100 yards to the summit.

The summit actually offers some nice and very different views of Mack's and Charleston Peaks. As we started to leave the peak, it started to rain and hail. Everyone put on their rain jackets and started down the trail.
: Make sure to veer way to the right as you descend from the peak. If you don't, you will hit the trail too low and actually have to ascend a series of switchbacks before the trail levels out.

The rain stopped after 30 minutes and the sun came out. We took off our rain jackets and continued on the trail. About 20 minutes from the trailhead the rain started again, but this time it was much harder. This is just another reminder to bring a rain jacket on all Charleston hikes for the rest of the season.

On the drive out there were two wild horses in the road. Action Boy stopped and one of the horses put it's entire head in the car! Action Boy grabbed an apple and fed the horse. Now that was an amazing sight.

Notes: There's an ammo box at the summit. The sign-in book has lots of room for new entries.