We did not wake up for an alpine start… the sleeping bags were too warm and after a night of tossing and turning it was nice to sleep in a little bit. After driving out Thursday (read about that here) and a full day hiking up to camp (read about that here) we took out time getting up, that was a good thing. After a hearty breakfast of power bar and coffee we packed up and headed towards the summit.
We made really good time along the ridgeline to the Devil’s Thumb and it was some great views. When we got to the beginning of the accent to the summit, we could see the vegetation begin to drop off as we began the switch backs to the summit. We worked our way back and forth up the trail, we had plenty of rest and made good work of the trail as we crested the top and hiked to the flag and register for the obligatory pics and a break.
After the magic of the summit was over it was time to get back on the road, we had originally planned to camp up there, so we had a little extra to go as we came down the South trail. Coming down from the summit was. Nice and the trail was a gradual decline not the sharp switch backs we had just come up. We diverted to the crash site of a military plane from decades ago and checked it out and payed our respects. The trail and sweeping views made for good time as we hiked along.
It was really pretty the back side of the mountain and you could see for miles. One of the interesting views was the devastation of the forest from a wildfire a few years back and made for an eerie kind of beauty walking among the burnt-out trees. This seemed to be the more popular route as we ran into a lot of day hikers looking to bag a peak and get out for the morning.
Having not taken this route up and it being my first time here it kind of lured me into a false sense of ease since the trails where relatively flat and followed the ridge line, one of those “oh this isn’t so bad” kind of parts of the hike. Mike and Mike made good time and where far ahead of me and I was really just enjoying the moment. As we came into the tree line and it became a little denser, I finally caught up to the Mikes taking a break at a fork in the trail, this was the magical spot here we began our decent into the canyon and towards the parking lot.
Dropping into the switch backs kind of pulled me back into the reality that there was no easy way up or down. This portion of the trail was steep with it zig zagging down the mountain and into a steep canyon. Downhill should be easy but it never is ha-ha, I’m very glad I brought my trekking poles. That’s not to say it wasn’t great hike and the yellow aspen of fall made for some great pictures and breaks on my way down. It was fun too talking to all the people coming up.
I was tired and enjoying the hike, but I was smelling the barn and ready for some beer and pizza. Like most of these trips it gets a little harder as you can start to see more people then see the buildings and parking lots, hear the noise, I wanted to speed up but that wasn’t in me, I need to get out more, I was out of shape ha-ha. I was stoked when I finally passed all the trail signs and ran into Mike resting at a bench by the trail. They had made it down about fifteen minutes before me.
Other Mike was the hero of the trip not only for driving but the trail Loop doesn’t actually loop to the same parking lot, we were just outside of the Cathedral Rock Trailhead so about a half mile plus from the Mary Jane Trailhead, Mike was kind enough to run back to his truck then come and get us, we were very happy about that. After getting loaded up in the car we were happy to have done the loop and experienced the whole Charleston experience. This was the highest altitude the Mikes had done so far, and they did great it’s always fun to be along for firsts.
I would definitely say this hike is worth doing and the loop gives you a great exposure to the whole area. Mt Charleston reminded me a lot of the Eastern Sierras and a great off strip adventure for Las Vegas. With only one water point on the North Trail I will defiantly advise taking extra water and plan on chilly nights between the altitude winds and exposure. I was really happy in the year of lock downs to grab a new peak with friends and highly suggest Mt Charleston. As always thanks for taking the time to give us a read and we can’t wait to hear you stories of “Getting The Fox Out There”!