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Mount Wilson
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona
April 28, 2011

Distance: 7.3 km (4.5 mi)
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 819 m (2687 ft

Looking for an excuse to climb in Arizona, Dinah and I found it in Mount Wilson, a mountain just minutes from the Nevada-Arizona border. For this trip, we met with Shin. Shin had Wilson on his “bucket list,” but he didn't have a high-clearance vehicle required to get to the trailhead. We drove our rental SUV up Black Joe Mine Road and after much jolting and bouncing – and a bit of bottom-scraping – arrived at the trailhead. After determining the correct ridge to start up, the way to the summit was obvious, and we soon dispensed with the route description. We stuck to the ridgeline and steadily drew closer to the summit.

The hike was more beautiful than we expected. Each section of the ridge held its own delights whether they were unusual rock colours or tall yuccas. We also saw an assortment of lizards and one snake. Except for the sluggish horned lizards, all wildlife quickly disappeared into rocks or bushes. Along with the eye-catching desert scenery, twists and turns and ridge undulations kept us engaged the entire time.

Two hours and 45 minutes after starting, we reached the summit. As we relaxed, a pair of swallows soared and swooped about the peak. They were so swift and flew so close to us – as close as two or three feet – we could hear the “swoosh” of air.

We spent a delightful 45 minutes on top before heading back. The return trip was uneventful until we reached the last section of the ridge above the trailhead. There two swallows suddenly appeared and sped towards us. They zipped so close to our heads that we flinched. And then they were gone. It was as if the birds were giving us a farewell flyby as we left the mountain.

KML and GPX Tracks

The trailhead: we ascended the ridge on the left

Starting up the ridge

Within minutes of starting, we were scrambling

Looking back, our car appears as a black dot in the road on the left

We investigated a mining area

Flowing cactus

Following the ridge crest

Shin waits for us on the ridge. The summit rises above him in the background.

Hiking through enjoyable desert landscape

The summit (left) remains far off

Lake Mead and Fortification Hill in the background

On a striking ridge section (mouse over to look back)

Another area we enjoyed

Desert mariposa tulip so brilliant I spotted it a hundred metres away (mouse over for a top view)

Continuing along the ridge

Looking back

Studying the summit

Arch Mountain in the foreground on the right

Steep, rocky slopes below the summit

I scrambled up a chimney but Shin and Dinah easily hiked around it

Nearing the summit

Chia wildflower

The summit is just past this rise

Climbing a chute to reach the summit

Dinah follows

Relaxing on the summit

Heading back down

Passing a gendarme

We left the summit behind

While other lizards quickly disappeared, horned lizards were slow enough for us to photograph

We saw four horned lizards in all including this baby (mouse over for a close-up)

More great desert scenery

Ringbolt, Mount Wilson (4.5 mi, 5,433 ft, 2,457 ft)

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