Hiking the S. Loop Trail. The summit of Griffith as seen from the S. Loop Trail.
So, aside from Charleston Peak, Griffith has been a name that has been popping up on my "to-do" list for the last couple of months. While Charleston was my main target, I figured Griffith would be an easy peak to bag as well from the S. Loop Trail to Charleston. On my first two hikes to Charleston I had side goals of double tagging Griffith, but my first bid was interrupted by my friend's altitude sickness and the second was interupted by my own fatigue and lack of time (after having just summited Charleston). Seeing my window of opportunity closing, I started to worry that I wouldn't be able to get back out to tag the Griffith summit.
That's where my crazy friends came in.
You see, at my alma mater, we had an outdoor recreation group which I was heavily involved in. The leader of this group would organize trips throughout Western PA and, once a year, to some National Park. He also coaches a field hockey team on the side and, as part of this, he had to attend a field hockey convention in California. Being the adventurous type, he decided to drive (with two friends) from Western PA to Southern California, happening to pass right through Las Vegas, where I am now working.
So we planned to hook up for a couple days, climb some mountains, go wakeboarding on L. Mead, stuff like that. I convinced them that they wanted to summit Griffith Peak so they could get a unique view of Las Vegas.
And that's what we did.
The sun was beginning to set as we ascended the final 100 meters to the peak. Preaching atop an ancient pulpit.
We started off rather late since I had half of a day of work to complete. We got to the trailhead at about noon and started hiking soon thereafter. This was their first time hiking in any mountains like these, so we repeatedly stopped to take photos and breaks at various lookouts and vistas (of which there are many).
We saw a few patches of snow, but not much. From what I've read, this is surprising for late November. I expected to see more snow at these altitudes by this time of year. No matter, the hiking was still great and the weather was perfect for reaching the summit; nice and cool with no wind.
We reached the summit ridge just as the sun was starting to descend towards the horizon. Perfect timing to summit for the sunset. We climbed our way up, nearly missing the small summit trail (I mistaked the Harris Springs Trail for the summit trail, assuming it looped around and ascended from the other side), but we made it to the top just as the sun penetrated the edge of the horizon.
It was rather cold on top, but we stayed up there for 10 minutes or so. We noticed the shadow of Griffith Peak was being cast by the setting sun on some mountains off in the distance, and that was a cool sight to see. We signed the summit log and descended back to the car. On the way down, the trail was lit by the nearly full moon, and it was a very surreal experience. Very quite and calm, with only the crunching sound of our boots on the gravel and whatever small talk we were making. Every once in awhile we'd hear a dog bark down in town. I love the Charleston area.
The shadow of Griffith Peak was cast by the setting sun across the valley.
All in all? A great hike with some great friends in a beautiful area. What more can you ask for?
The moon soon replaced the sun as our primary light source.