Peak 4,109ft P500
Cottonwood Overlook
North Potosi Peak P500 RS
Mesa BM P750 RS

Mon, Feb 14, 2022
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profile

Continued...

After an enjoyable weekend with my wife, my cousin, and his wife, I drove them to the Las Vegas airport for an early morning flight back to San Jose, leaving me on my own once again. I headed to the southwest side of town, south of Red Rocks NRA, primarily for a climb of North Potosi Peak. I hit up some other summits before and after, keeping me occupied for most of the day.

Peak 4,109ft

This standalone summit lies sandwiched between SR159 and SR160, immediately southeast of the small community of Blue Diamond. There are a number of GPX tracks on PB that utilize a trail system from the north, off Arroyo Rd. The trails appear to be use trails developed over the years, without signs or other indications along the roadway on where to find them. The Blue Diamond neighborhood sign along Arroyo Rd wasn't exactly welcoming, but at least it wasn't threatening, either. I parked off the road, wandered south across the dry, somewhat brushy wash, and found a trail soon after. The trail climbs southeast up the modest slope, then mostly follows the edge of the North Ridge. It took about 25min to find my way to the summit. With more than 600ft of prominence, it has good views overlooking Blue Diamond, Red Rocks NRA, and Mt. Potosi. On my way down, I spotted a party of four making their way up, and paused briefly to exchange greetings with them. They looked to be retirees much like myself, happy to be out enjoying a Monday morning hike while most adults are working.

Cottonwood Overlook - North Potosi

North Potosi lies on the crest of the Spring Mtns, roughly halfway between Mt. Potosi and SR160. There is a trail network that reaches Cottonwood Overlook, a lower point on the ridge and my first stop. I believe the trail network was built by the adjacent private camp that owns several miles along Mt. Potosi Canyon Rd. My route a poor attempt to follow Paula Raimondi's GPX track found on PB. I didn't really pay much attention to it, having it along more as a backup, and didn't realize it was using an actual trail. Where I parked and started from had no trail of any kind, just a cross-country effort that went steeply up semi-brushy slopes and through moderate limestone cliffs. Certainly not a route I'd recommend repeating. I eventually landed on the trail traversing orthogonally across the slope, ignoring it as I climbed higher to a saddle west of Cottonwood Overlook where I stumbled upon it once again. I then followed it the rest of the way to the overlook, about 50min for the effort. The summit offers a nice view to the northwest overlooking the highway and the snowy higher elevations of the Spring Mtns.

I returned on the trail to the saddle, leaving it to follow the crest south towards North Potosi. There is no trail past the saddle, but the travel is not difficult. There is some limestone scrambling to be had if one looks for it above the saddle, but it is easy to bypass on the east side. There are two PB-only points on the way to North Potosi, Meditation Point and Namaste Hill. The former had a register placed only a day earlier, the second had none. Just south of Namaste Hill is a saddle with North Potosi. There is some telecom equipment installed just south of the saddle, amateurishly done, no longer looking viable, and equipment trash and wire all over the place. I suspect it was done by the private camp folks to get communications to their HQ back in the day. This part of the hike is on their property, so no legal reason to complain, but it looks pretty crappy. I spent another 30min above this second saddle to reach the summit of North Potosi, now back on public lands. There was some snow on the shaded facets, but no hindrance. One could continue on the increasingly forested ridgeline going up to Mt. Potosi, but that would be a bigger effort - and I'd already been there, back in 2008. A register dates back to 2005 with 8 pages of entries, most of them since 2013. Harlan Stockman was the most recent visitor, signed as "Hugh de Q" back in September.

After a short rest, I reversed the route back to the trail at the lower saddle, then followed the trail back down for much of the way. The trail splintered into something looking more like use trails and poorly maintained the lower I went on the north side of Cottonwood Overlook. I eventually abandoned all pretenses of following a trail and descended a gully more directly back down to where I'd parked. I was back by 1:40p, having spent four and a quarter hours on the effort.

Mesa BM

This summit has more than 850ft of prominence and is one of the crappier ones I've found in the Las Vegas area. It appears in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles (along with North Potosi), but has few redeeming qualities. It is found west of Lovell Canyon Rd, on USFS lands. The shortest approach is from the east off Lovell Canyon Rd, aobut 3/4mi each way. The summit is located on the edge of a steep escarpment that must be surmounted to reach it. The initial part of the route follows through rolling, semi-brushy terrain that is easy enough. Once starting up the escarpment, one finds terribly loose slopes that sap ones patience and will to live. Being closer to the end of the day might have had something to do with it, but I suspect it would be unpleasant no matter what time of day. I spent a full hour getting up the escarpment from the Jeep, the final hike along the summit mesa an easier five minutes. One might do better looking for ways up from the south or west sides. There is a benchmark dating to 1950 and a register to 2016 at the summit. Views were so-so. The return would go much faster, taking less than 45min, but I felt no love for this one when I was done.

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