Monday, March 14, 2011

Postholing...



...the act of breaking through the top layer of snow crust into the soft mushy stuff below, typically up above the knees and into the crotch.







It was another beautiful day in sunny Las Vegas, with the spring time temps forecasted in the upper 70's F, and we decided to venture up high above the desert floor to Mt. Charleston. Most people don't expect to see the natural beauty of our local mountains just 40 minutes from downtown Las Vegas.


Popular Trail Canyon runs 2 miles and 1,500 feet up to join North Loop Trail, which leads to 11,918 foot Charleston Peak, the highest in Southern Nevada. The snow bent trees drooped over the trail in many areas, making it difficult to negotiate.


Juggy, JP, and I were up for a fun filled adventure, how far we really didn't know.


Not far up we lost the trail due to the deepening snow, but I had been up here a ton of times and thought it would be not be any problem to navigate. After all, it's just straight up a canyon.


It's amazing how snow can make a familiar place so different. While this place was familiar, it wasn't Trail Canyon familiar.


Young and fearless, or maybe just trusting of Dad, JP was good to go! Juggy labored up the steep hill out of breath.


Stopping to look around at the base of a steep rocky obstacle that ended up being Mummy Mountain (past Mummy Springs), I finally realized where we were. This is the old burn area you go through on North Loop Trail heading towards Charleston Peak. Looking back down, we were high above the saddle that we had intended on reaching before venturing further. That's Fletcher Peak past the saddle. No wonder it took us so long to get up there!


I know the trail was around here somewhere, but it was far below the surface and nowhere to be found. Below, Juggy climbs up a steep snowbank, now getting softer in the late morning sun.


JP waiting for the old folks on the steep hillside.


Juggy was trailing behind, but no worries, were were just out for a fun hike and weren't going up any higher since were didn't have snow shoes.


If you are familiar with the junction of Trail Canyon and North Loop trails, then you might remember this sign in front of Mummy Mountain standing much taller. At first we thought the large logs in this area that we normally sit on to take a break were gone, but actually they were just completely buried in snow. We found a small branch sticking up through the snow and were able to confirm the fallen trees were in fact still there.


After postholing for a while, we had to laugh and get my picture. The first photo at the top of this post prompted my favorite quote of the day "I got to see my dad half disappear" after JP watched me fall on my face!


We headed back down Trail Canyon trail...


...and lost the trail almost immediately. Postholing led to crawling and glissading through some areas.


Looking across the valley and up the other side, that's Charleston Peak completely buried in snow. Our summer training route is currently only accessible to more experienced snow trekkers than us!


After about 5 1/2 hours, we found ourselves eating a late lunch down at the lodge, our muscles feeling like we had hiked 20+ miles. What a fun filled day of postholing and glissading!

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