Saturday, July 25, 2009

McFarland Peak


Today (7-25), I led 10 hikers to the summit of McFarland Mountain in Mt. Charleston, just 60 minutes from Las Vegas, NV. We got an early start and that paid off as you will soon read. Our trailhead was Lee Canyon; McFarland can also be done from the Cold Creek Area.

We followed the Bristlecone trail a little more than one mile before taking the shortcut path. We realized we did something wrong once we got to the top of the path. After hiking and looking around for about 20 minutes I knew we were too far west. We descended to the correct trail and soon were at the junction with the Bonanza Trail. Shortly after the intersection we saw wild horses.

We followed the trail to the turnoff for McFarland Peak. As we were taking a break, my cell phone rang. I couldn't believe it! We were in the middle of nowhere. After a quick conversation with Dave, we started up the gully. The route is in great shape and very well cairned.

The sky became darker as we reached the top of the gully. We knew time was running out so we made a mad dash for the peak. Our plan was to sign the book and get off the peak fast. I had started down when a lightening bolt struck just 30 feet from the summit. Kenny, Nancy, and Kathy felt the hair on their arms stand up. They were charged. Luckily no one was hurt. This photo was taken less than a minute before the lightening strike.

Although we thought we were going to be in for a scary trip down, it was actually uneventful. Once we reached the shortcut path I found where we made our mistake. There's a new path marked with a cairn where the shortcut path goes into a drainage and disappears. We cairned the correct way as seen in this photo.