Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cold in Red Rock in the Middle of June!

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The title sounds crazy and probably gets your attention, which is good. I have been following an interesting weather trend for the last 14 years. For 13 out of the last 14 years for a few days in June the temperature drops drastically. Yesterday (6-12-2010), the high in Las Vegas was 79. That's 20 degrees below the average high for June 12th. Wow! This emphasizes an important point: keep track of the weather forecast. Forget about the season. Normally it's too hot to hike in Red Rock during June. By keeping track of the weather forecast I knew it would be plenty cool to get in one last hike in Red Rock. I also knew there was a chance of rain so we were prepared. Since it was cool, we wore polypro instead of cotton. You do not want to wear cotton when it's cold.

I chose the Bridge Mountain official trail.  In my opinion the Bridge Mtn Trail is the best official trail in Red Rock Canyon. It's well marked and very easy to follow. The trail ends well before the summit, but travels just west of an incredible overlook into Pine Creek Canyon. Unfortunately, the trailhead is a five mile drive up the Rocky Gap Road, which requires a decent 4-WD vehicle. You can drive about 2.4 miles in a high clearence vehicle and then walk to the start of the official trail.

We started hiking around 11 am with overcast skies. I am guessing the temps were in the mid fifties. The trailhead starts at almost 6,400 feet, some 4,000 feet higher than Las Vegas. About a half mile up the trail it started to rain hard enough to put on our rain gear. I had an emergency poncho which kept me dry and fairly warm. They are very lightweight an inexpensive. It's something every hiker should carry in their daypack.

Once we reached the ridgeline the wind picked up enough that we were all glad we had multiple layers on and not cotton. We continued on the trail as the rain diminished to a mist. We soon reached the overlook where you get your first view of Bridge Mountain. I figured with the rain and wind it felt like the temperature was in the low 40's at the overlook.

There's several spots to sit and look down over 1,500 feet into Pine Creek Canyon. Although I have scrambled through Pine Creek to the summit of Bridge Mountain the route looks impossible from the overlook. You can see all the way from Bridge Mtn to Mt. Wilson. This is one of the best views in Red Rock. I highly recommend this hike.

Here are the stats:
Difficulty: 2 (out of 5)
Distance: 4.5 miles - round trip (starting from the official trailhead)
Elevation gain: 1,400 feet
Highest point: 6,900 feet
Time: 2 hours (round trip) + time spent at the overlook

Note: This overlook is a little south of the overlook at the top of Piuate Wall and I feel it's better.
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