Monday, March 8, 2010

Ride 23: Pierson Gap Loop - Pt 2 (The Trail)

Lets see… where were we before we were rudely interrupted? Oh yes, the Pierson Gap Loop (former) Trail! The most scenic trail on Gold Butte.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 23: Pierson Gap Loop Trail]

From the, now inactive, Treasure Hawk Mine we traveled… southeasterly to Pierson Gap. It is an easy, clearly marked, designated trail through the trees common to the upper elevations of the Butte desert.

It is an area replete with Pinons and Cedar in addition to desert succulents — including the mounds of Hedgehog Cacti known as "Claret Cup" or "Mojave Mound." Most of the mountain cliffs are monzogranite, weathered over thousands of years into "globules" as though they were mere pebbles on a stream bottom.

Starting just past the gap you begin to see, progressively disclosed, vistas of the "Grand Cliffs" beyond. Cottonwood Wash comes into view and eventually even the lake known as "Mead."

The trail was once a mining trail to the town of Eureka, which is now a mere "wide spot in the trail" like so many others on the Butte. But, what a place to live! A mile or so beyond Eureka is a side trail which runs up a short distance to a "Heaven's Peak" and its breathtaking views.

That's where you better get out your camera (you did remember to bring it didn't you?) However, as great as it will be to show those you left at home where you've been — the photos won't even come close to the view that you saw with your own eyes.

At the peak, you begin your descent into Cottonwood Wash in earnest. Although it is quite stable and not difficult if taken slowly, the trail becomes steep enough to be glad you don't have to go back up it – or so you think! At the bottom of the descent is yet another in the series of "Grand Views," this time the water of Devil's Cove comes to the forefront.

The last decline into the wash is down a 70 or so inch wide, high walled, gravely chute where there is the first indication that something is not right. Some completely incompetent, mean-spirited, brain-dead idiot had placed a cable at about chest height across the outlet! I hope no one was maimed.

Even if someone had escaped being decapitated or destroying their rig, there was no way to turn around and possibly no way to even stop. No wonder it had been been ripped completely out of the ground (posts and all)!

Down at the outlet into Cottonwood Wash there was another post and cable blockaid. Apparently you are expected to merely turn around and climb back up out of the canyon.

When we got back to headquarters I combined the track with another taken down Cottonwood Wash from the top end to form what USED to be a premier loop trail (which from everything I've been told should have been "grandfathered").

Additionally, I found that only the last 3/4 mile of trail ran through the recently formed "Jumbo Springs Wilderness" area. I plotted the coordinates on the map that I'm making available. If you haven't loaded one of them before, this would be a good time to do so. This map even has some photos geocoded with it.

This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”
Will Rogers

Click on the box for the "wilderness" and the area will show up in red. You can plainly see that at least some thought went into making the western border of the area; but, the right side is "cookie cutter, straight edge ruler" square and cuts off the "should-have-been grandfathered" trail.

Having seen how these things are done before, a very likely scenario was that neither the legislative representative proposing the bill (Harry Reid-Dem NV), nor his personal assistant with the ruler, ever even set foot in the area – or, if so, you can bet it wasn't on foot like they expect us to do now!

Needing to draw a line on the map they most likely accepted the advice of the "proposers" (gee who might they have been) who truly never miss an opportunity to back-handedly close another trail – by "accident" of course.

Notice that portions of the trail are also one of the several where the Lake Mead NRA allows existing trails to continue access through the area. Likely a major reason why the "S" and "F" clubbers took another run at the area via the "Wilderness Area Act" which has different and more convoluted and obscure requirements for including citizen input.

The entire issue could have been made "win-win" if the blockaid had been moved 100 yards to the west. The "spring" would still have been "protected" (as if it needed it) AND those who depended upon using the historic connection would have no reason to complain and even been happy to support and even police the routes.


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