The month of July brings hot temperatures and the Monsoon season. The Monsoon season is another name for the stormy season. Normally starting during mid- July and continuing through August the Monsoon season is in full force. The southern winds bring moist air from the Gulf of Mexico into southern Nevada. Once here, our summer sun heats this moist air causing thunderstorms. Generally, the Monsoon season starts in late July and lasts till the first or second week of September.
Unfortunately, storms are more common in the mountains. This applies to the mountains in Mt. Charleston. Red Rock Canyon is not subject to the Monsoon season, but it’s too hot for most people to hike during summer. However, this doesn’t mean you should stop hiking. By following the suggestions below, you can have a safe time hiking during the monsoon season in Mt. Charleston.
The main rule is: Be off the peaks by noon. Thunderstorms do not normally start until the afternoon. Get an early start if you are doing a long hike. You can start hiking anytime in Mt. Charleston. There’s no Scenic Loop gate that limits access to the trailheads.
If Caught In A Lightning Storm:
Get off of peaks and ridgelines. – They are very exposed and susceptible to lightning strikes.
Stay out of shallow caves. – Ground lightning runs through caves.
Stay away from water. If a trail turns into a stream, stay off. – Water is a good conduit for lightning.
If you’re hiking with a group, spread out. – Lightning can travel from one person to another.
Stay away from tall objects (trees). – They are frequently struck by lightning.
If you feel charged, squat down on non-conductive material. Your backpack is normally an appropriate choice.
The best rule of thumb is to listen to the weather forecast the night before and watch the sky while hiking. Always have a rain jacket with you when hiking Mt. Charleston during the Monsoon season. Keep it in your daypack so you can’t forget it. Many times, during our hikes the sky looked threatening, but we never felt a drop of rain or saw a flash of lightning. As always, common sense and preparation are the keys.
Hike of the Month
Hike: Cathedral Rock — up and back
Trailhead: At the endo of SR 157 — marked
Distance: 3 miles — round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Elevation Peak: 8,600 feet
Time: 3 hours — round trip
How easy to follow: 1
Driving Directions: Take Highway north 95 to State route 157. Go left on 157, drive 21 mile and park next to the signed trailhead sign. The signed trailhead is on the west (right) side of the road. There is no fee to park or hike.
Overview: The trail starts easy, flattens out, and then becomes steep before reaching the peak.
Comments: Cathedral Rock, the second most popular trail in Mt. Charleston, is the perfect hike for beginners. You can see Cathedral Rock, the huge pinnacle that looms above the Mt. Charleston Lodge, by looking at the imaginary 10 o’clock position as you approach the hairpin turn on 157.
The Hike: From the trailhead, the trail starts in a westward direction at a slight grade. It winds through thick patches of aspens and evergreens. The trail turns south and heads toward the magnificent Echo Cliffs. The Cliffs have a sheer drop of almost 800 feet. As the trail snakes to the west of Echo Cliffs, a side trail leads to a small seep. Water flows almost year-round, making the 100-yard walk worth the effort.
Once past Echo Cliffs, the trail heads west and the grade becomes steeper as it makes its way across a slope. As you traverse the slope, you can see the destruction an avalanche can wreak on a mountain. Many trees and boulders are still misplaced by an avalanche that happened years ago.
The trail flattens out as it heads toward the backside of Cathedral Rock. This is the easiest and most enjoyable part of the trail, a cakewalk through a forest, and you forget that you’re 8,000 feet above sea level.
Save your energy for the last quarter mile of the trail–it’s steep. Take the signed right fork when the trail divides. About a half- dozen switchbacks take you to the top of Cathedral Rock. Once on top the view becomes more spectacular with every step. Mt. Charleston Lodge lies almost 1,000 feet below and farther to the east you can see the desert floor. To the north is Mummy Mountain; to the NW is Mary Jane Falls, and to the west is Charleston Peak.
Watch children closely at the top; the drop-offs are more than 100 feet at the edges. Railings have been erected, but they seem to entice people to climb down to them.
To Descend: Retrace your steps.
After the hike you can visit the new Visitor Center. It’s located on the south side of the round-about that you drove past on your way to Cathedral Rock trailhead.
Join The 52 Peak Club and take your hiking to the next level: http://www.52peakclub.com/
Branch’s bio here: http://www.hikinglasvegas.com/about.html
Branch’s Facebook Hiking Group: facebook.com/groups/HikingLasVegas/ +