Tuesday, July 7, 2020

AtBF at Raintree - 7/6/20

AtBF at Raintree (2 "Pods" of 5)
Two of the small groups of club members that have been roaming the mountains in the past couple of months coincidentally met up at Raintree on Monday. It was very nice to see everyone, including Kay T. and Charlie & Peggy M., out and about. Virtual hugs for everyone.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Stanley B / Fletcher Canyon (variation using Middle Ridge) - 7/2/20

Mummy's Toe from Stanley B Saddle

Dry Fall into Fletcher Canyon (Foreground) Fletcher Peak (Background)

Small Slot in Fletcher Canyon

Wild Horse Pair at Rangers' House
With three of our small social distancing group out of town, we welcomed a new addition. Mike, Ralyn and I parked at the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead early Thursday morning in a very quiet Kyle Canyon. When we passed the Visitor's Center which is closed right now due to the virus, we noted a herd of fire and rescue vehicles parked outside. The Mahogany Fire now has around 400 personnel working on its containment. This includes helicopters with water buckets as well. Later, on my way out, I watched as a helicopter came back to the visitor center area to fill its bucket. Upon leaving right after, the helicopter swung wide around the Harris Peak ridge and the long cable and bucket may have missed the ridge by about 20 or 30 feet! Firemen everywhere ladies!!! ... Just kidding. (Good luck on getting their attention right now!) They are doing a great job at containing this fire that burned out of control in 50 mph winds on Sunday. Thank you to the fire crews!

Very Young Foal - Trying to get Up!

So, we left the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead to hike up the Acastus Trail. Along the way, we passed the rangers' quarters where the Kyle Canyon wild horse pair were munching on the lawn. Next to them, laying on the grass, was their foal. Adorable! He/She appeared to still be having a difficult time getting up onto its feet. My photo above shows just how far he/she was able to raise up!

See the Sign!

We passed the Rainbow community's entrance then found a small trail that leads up to Kyle Canyon Road. Here, we crossed the road to the Stanley B Canyon Trailhead. ... Marked by a sign that reminds visitors that wood and charcoal fires are prohibited.

Climbing up Stanley B Canyon

Washing Stick Tips
Just yesterday, the fire investigators of the Mahogany Fire deciphered that the fire was begun by a campfire located outside any official campground or picnic area. As hikers, we often come upon fire rings that are off the beaten path. Might I reiterate to those who think that they are immune to causing a wildfire: If it says you are prohibited from using wood or charcoal to start a fire, it doesn't matter where in the mountains you have set up shop. Dry wood and brush burns everywhere! (Even where rangers can't see you!) ... The investigation continues.

I digress.

So, we climbed up the Stanley B Canyon wash and turned right onto the old mining road. Soon, after passing several newly trod trails, we turned left onto our shortcut trail that cuts off the big circle out that the mining road makes.

Starting Steep Climb up to Middle Ridge

At the canyon fork, we took a left to go view the pipe spring. Venturing up this canyon a little further, we saw a trail leading straight up the steep hillside to the right. This hillside rises between the two canyons that form the fork. For our purposes today, we'll call it the Middle Ridge.

View down Canyon from Point of Middle Ridge

Not being able to resist the challenge of finding new stuff, we started the climb. The trail petered out but the route continued sometimes with cairns. We passed a makeshift campsite on the lower point of the ridge ... see what I mean ... and continued following cairns up the ridge. It was a steep and tiring climb but, finally, it leveled off with a display of rock outcroppings.

Steep Climb to Rock Outcrops on Middle Ridge

Top of Middle Ridge (Cockscomb Peak in Background)
After this, the ridge dipped and changed into a pine forest. This is where we were able to traverse down into the canyon on the other side of Middle Ridge. We dropped down right at the meadow created by a convergence of two ravines. Recognizing our location, we continued up the left fork and came to the landmark rock outcropping. This told us to take the right fork up to the Stanley B Saddle. A break was well deserved! We sat for several minutes with the view seen in the first photo of this entry.

After our break, we made our way down the wash in front of us. The trail is very vague at this point but suffice it to say, it leads down diagonally to the left, then you start down the wash below running into a couple of steep sections before you can find another vague and hard-to-find trail leading over the ridge to the left.

Rock Outcrops on Middle Ridge

Upon reaching the next wash, we followed it down to a high dry fall as seen in the second photo of this entry. We retraced our steps about 30 feet, climbed the next ridge and found another vague trail that leads over this ridge and down to Fletcher Canyon proper. Some steep stuff here. Just make sure you don't go too far to the right. Cliffs ahead!!

From Middle Ridge to Saddle to Mummy's Toe

Right after dropping into Fletcher Canyon and following the trail down for about 30 feet, you arrive at the Ponderosa Waterfall. This waterfall requires an up and around on the left side. We saw that there are numerous trails made to circumvent this but, really, the circumvention isn't that long if you begin it 5 feet before the waterfall. Any way you do it, this scramble is the most difficult of the hike because of the slippery rock.  Oh yeah, then there is Obstacle Rock. I digress again.

Mike in the Crow's Nest

Ralyn climbing at the Landmark Rock
We started down the canyon trail finding various new fallen trees and debris crossing our path. Every year, Fletcher Canyon presents a new canvas. The wild roses are in bloom but so are their thorns which blocked the way throughout the hike. We also saw several species of butterflies enjoying the wet summer conditions of the canyon. Also blooming as we speak are the Mt. Charleston Angelicas. These white lacey flowers are found in abundance on the Stanley B Trail and the lower Fletcher Canyon Trail. They are an offset of angelicas that are found only in the Mt. Charleston area. These flowers can also be viewed along the South Loop Trail and at Little Falls. We saw and heard a lot of birds. And, lizards scampered at our feet. Fletcher Canyon is probably the closest thing to a tropical rain forest that the Las Vegas desert has going. Yep. Not that close.

Arriving at the Stanley B Saddle

We sidled around the small slot that had sun streaming into it from straight above then weaved our way along the flowing stream. Next, we started into the upper Fletcher Canyon narrows.

Griffith Peak from Stanley B Saddle

We enjoyed the high walls surrounding us. Throughout the hike, we stayed at a slow and steady pace stopping when we felt like it. And, here, we stood looking around. Something seemed different. Was that a new tree crossing the canyon above our heads?

Crossing over to Fletcher Canyon

More steep Stuff
Next, the much anticipated Rabbit Hole. So, we had heard through friends that someone has built up the opposite side of Obstacle Rock with trees into a ladder-like structure. We thought, "Okay. We'll check it out." We reached Obstacle Rock and peered over the edge down to the new "ladder." Hmm. At first glance, the ladder doesn't appear negotiable from the top. It appears slippery and confusing. We immediately opted to do the Rabbit Hole dance and ignore the work of the ladder. This proved to be doable but somewhat hampered by the new construction. When sliding under the rock after slipping through the hole, the space is much encumbered with the placement of one of the large logs. But, nevertheless, we got through ... especially since we were all of medium or slight build. The whole process was quite comical and the comments were hilarious!

Arriving at Fletcher Canyon above Ponderosa Waterfall

When we got down far enough to be able to look back up at the constructed ladder, we saw that it might be usable for going up more than for going down. And, going up was always a very difficult endeavor in the past.

Now for the Fun and Beautiful Stuff in the Canyon

Also, when we got down to the bottom of the obstacle, we were somewhat relieved that there were no observers lazing about at the bottom! Yes, it wasn't a pretty maneuver but we had a lot of fun!

Down through the Rabbit Hole at Obstacle Rock

Obstacle Rock
Shockingly, we hiked the remaining two miles of lower Fletcher Canyon only passing 4 couples. We didn't see even one other hiker until we were out of the shaded canyon and into the warm sun. We hiked swiftly not wanting to lollygag in the sun longer than necessary. It had been a hard hike with the change in route using the Middle Ridge but it is always fun to learn new stuff! The maps below do not indicate today's route. These are maps of the usual route used by the AtBF club. Fun day! Resting now!

Stats: ~7 miles; ~2000' gained; 4.75 hours

Ralyn sliding down the Chute

A look back at Fletcher Canyon Lower Narrows

Hiking down into Kyle Canyon

Monday, June 29, 2020

Mahogany Fire Map Overlay - 6/29/20

Mahogany Fire Overlay as of 6/29/20
There are no AtBF trails that are directly affected by the fire at this time.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Mummy's Toe Loop (with Horse Ridge) - 6/25/20

Mummy's Toe from Deer Creek Ridge

Southern View from atop Mummy's Toe

Scenes from Deer Creek Trail (Dennis, Bruce & Don were in the area)

Climbing Deer Creek Ridge
The social distancing fearsome foursome rounded out their second week of two strenuous hikes per week with the steep hike up to Mummy's Toe. This would be only the second summit of this peak for Cheryl and Kay but Mike and Jerry, no doubt, have summited the smallest Mummy Peak many times in the past. It was a fun hike enjoyed by everyone at a slow pace not pushed by anyone. That's the way we like it! 

We parked at the Deer Creek Picnic Area parking lot for a 7:30am start. There were 3 hikers there from the Lone Mountain Hiking Club who were preparing for their first attempt at Mummy Springs up the Deer Creek route. We showed them the way as far as we could before our paces un-synced but not before we got a photo of the trio.

Mummy's Toe from Switchbacks above the Ridge

Our route would sneak up the Deer Creek Picnic Area paved trail before the picnickers flooded the area and connect to the Cougar Ridge Trail. Deer Creek is still running but not quite as much as it was a couple of weeks ago.

Mummy Springs in Gulley Below

This is the third time we have used the Deer Creek Trail and Ridge this short season. It is usually quiet and is a quick way to the elevations. So, up we went on legs that were still somewhat tired from the previous Big Falls Overlook hike!

The Steepness has Only Begun

Water break at Fork - We turned left!
By the time we climbed the trail and ridge up to the Mummy Springs Trail, we were finding our stride. A short breather and we turned right onto the older trail to begin the seven switchbacks up to Mummy's Toe. Mike and I both decided to stash one of our two water bottles in this section. We knew that steepness was coming and a small jettison of extra weight was welcome.

After the switchbacks, the trail crosses through a large gulley that culminates in the Mummy Springs area below. The trail is easy to follow but there is a fork that you have to watch out for. The trail seems to continue straight toward the base of Mummy Mountain way above but a double cairn should point out a turn to the left here. We turned left and continued climbing as the terrain got steeper and steeper. 

Lettie's Route (Very Picturesque)

Just before we reached the first of the cliffbands, I asked Mike to show me Lettie's Route that turns to the left here. The trail hikes along the base of this band of cliffs passing a couple of interesting alcoves and optional chutes up.

Mummy's Nose peeks up over the Ridge

The Lettie's Trail continues almost all the way to the end of the cliffband before we came to a well-worn chute up to the next level. This chute is somewhat easier than the famous Class 2+ chute on the traditional route. At the top, there is a trail you can find that first leads to the left then makes short switchbacks up to the traditional trail where Jerry and Cheryl were waiting for us.

Hardy Bristlecones guarding the Peak
A left on the older trail kept us climbing toward what looked like a peak behind the trees at the top of a very steep slope. This was the final push on a very steep dirt and scree trail. We climbed very slowly to reach a covy of very old, very hardy and very much still alive bristlecone trees. These trees mark the "entrance" to Mummy's Toe Peak. Finally, all four of us were standing on a small peak at ~10,800' in elevation taking in one of the most amazing views in all of the Spring Mountains NRA! We signed the log book then took several photos. Many of these photos are displayed in this blog. Then, we took a leisurely break before our treacherous and exhausting descent began.

The Rest of Mummy Mountain Parts

We started down and, perhaps, the descent of the steep stuff was even more slow than the ascent had been. Carefully, we took it step by step. What a workout!

A Summit Photo Fest!

View toward Fletcher Peak
We came back to the place where we had joined the last old trail and transferred down to the old trail that leads to the traditional chute. Following this trail, we hiked down across the Mummy Springs gully and made the fun descent down the chute. The steep stuff wasn't done yet, but it was getting better as we traversed across the hillside to the 7 switchbacks. The stashed water bottles were recovered and we took another break at the campsite found at the top of the Deer Creek Ridge. Ready to continue, we hiked down the ridge and down the trail along the creek. Veering to the left (north), we passed the old sawmill and connected with Cougar Ridge Trail. A left turn started us climbing another 300' of elevation on the road up to the Mummy's Nose Overlook. A last rest break was in order!

Following a Trail down past the Steep Stuff

Ready for the last phase of the descent, we got back on Cougar Ridge Trail to continue around the mountain. As we hiked, a hiker visiting from California hiked along with us to share information.

The Chute on the Traditional Route

Just as the road curves around to the left and an old road track is seen just below the edge, there is a descendable ridge with a game trail on it. I'll call this Horse Ridge since it seems that wild horses were the first the establish the ridge's trail.

Leveling Off above Mummy Springs

Cheryl strikes a Pose at the bottom of Deer Creek Ridge
We started dropping down onto the ridge where it is at first steep. The horse trail appears quickly. As we did once before, we just followed the trail all the way down. At first steep, next flattish, then, finally a gentle slope. You are spilled right down onto one of the old abandoned roads found in this area. By dropping down right off the end of the ridge, we ended up on a road that we needed to turn left onto. A little further down, we took a sharp right onto another dirt road that leads down to the area exactly across Deer Creek Road from the parking lot we started in almost 6 hours earlier. The parking lot was packed with picnickers so we were pretty happy that we took the long way around for our descent. Fun hike! So glad to have climbed the Toe again!

Stats: 6.5 miles; 2850' gain; 5.75 hours

Mummy's Toe from the Old Sawmill

300' More Gain on Cougar Ridge Trail

Gentle Horse Ridge Descent