Monday, August 17, 2009

Carpentar Canyon Overnighter


Almost 40 people spent the night sleeping to the sound of running water in Carpenter Canyon this past weekend. The canyon always has water flowing from Peak Springs some 4,000 feet above the canyon. This is one of the most scenic areas in Mt. Charleston. It an hour drive on a gravel road and you need a high clearance vehicle to reach the campsite.

Our group arrived around 6 pm on Saturday and set up tents, well at least most of us. Sasha slept in a hammock without a sleeping bag or blanket. It was a cold night for him with temperatures dropping down into the fifties! Those Russians are tough! We all remember Valentina. We all sat around (hard for me, but I did it), ate and listened to music. Most of us stayed up late, since Sunday's hike was an easy one and we did not have to get up early.

Sunday morning came as it always does and we were on the trail by 8:30. Our original goal was to make a trail to the best waterfall in the canyon. This would have put an end to the numerous paths that currently exist. The US Forestry Service did NOT want us making a trail. I thought one of their duties was to protect the land, guess not. We amended our goal and picked up trash instead. There's really not a lot of trash once beyond where people camp.

It took us about 90 minutes to reach the waterfall and pool. It's slow going with almost 40 people and with multiple paths it's not easy to know which one to follow. There's not a lot of room at the waterfall because of brush (it would have been nice to clear the brush and make room for people). The cold water stopped most people from jumping in the water. The water flows from Peak Spring, which sits at 11,000 feet.

As people sat and enjoyed the waterfall, seven of us took off to find the arch I have seen as I hiked to Charleston Peak via Carpenter Canyon. It was a steep and loose ascent to the ridge. We found not one, but two arches, to be more correct, an arch and a window. After taking photos we descended to one of the paths and we had an easy hike back to the campgrounds.

Notes: It's about a two hour drive from Las Vegas to the campsite.From the intersection of SR 159 and SR 160 it's about 35 miles on SR 160 to the signed turn off for Carpenter Canyon. SR 160 narrows to two lanes about a mile before the turnoff. The gravel road is in good shape and only a high clearance vehicle is needed. There are two main forks as you drive the gravel road. At the first fork stay straight and you immediately descend into the canyon. At the second fork veer right.