Thursday, June 11, 2009
Stanley B / Fletcher Canyon - 6/11/09
What a great bunch of hikers, huh? There were thirteen of us today hiking up the Stanley B Trail all the way to the top of the ridge, crossing over and dropping down into Fletcher Canyon through Obstacle Rock and out. We parked at the Fletcher Canyon parking area, hiked up the road to Stanley B and came out at the Fletcher Canyon trailhead. The hike was a little less than six miles with an elevation gain of around 1400 feet. Due to the difficulty of the terrain, the hike took us about 4.5 hours. It might would have taken longer but the dark clouds above us kept us going.
On the way up to the ridge, we passed by the three entrances to the old lead mine. A spring comes out of the first one which is pictured to the right. After viewing the mine entrance, we headed on up the wash which became more and more steep and a little brushy. We followed the wash as long as we could then we had to head straight up the steep hill to the right covered with loose rock. The going was tough here but ... as you can see below ... the tough kept going.
At the top of the ridge, we had this view of Mummy's Toe with Fletcher Canyon descending below. The dark clouds above presented an ominous warning that we were in rain country and hiking down through Fletcher Canyon in the rain was not our first choice for a morning out. We decided to forego the snack break for after we got down past Obstacle Rock. So, down we went.
The first part of the descent was a steep slippery hike down a wash, climbing over rotting logs and stepping down rocks and gravel among the trees. The most fun part of this section was this tree we had to negotiate shown to the left. After crossing the terrain in a couple of places working our way to the left, we found the stream the flowed into Fletcher Canyon proper. At that point, we began crossing the stream over and over again while listening to the beautiful sounds of a good bit of running water.
We reached a high dry waterfall and had to hike around it to get to the bottom. It was then that the scenery exploded with interesting canyon formations. You could see where the water had smoothed out a high rock wall. There were two slot canyons, one of which had a tall ponderosa pine growing seemingly out of the rock next to it. (Did you know that a ponderosa pine smells like vanilla or butterscotch? Try it!)
The picture above shows one of the slot canyons and the picture to the left shows the waterfall inside the small slot that had the pine growing above. This blogger wanted to spend the next hour taking pictures but the train was leaving. (And, oh yeah, a little bit of camera trouble prevented pictures of the large slot canyon which leads the hiker gracefully to the top of Obstacle Rock.) One by one, all thirteen of us climbed down through the rabbithole created by what we call Obstacle Rock. The hole slides down between the canyon wall and a huge boulder which tends to move a little some years with the snow melt. Because of so many people sliding through the hole, the surrounding rock has become very smooth and slippery.
We slid through the hole, crouched through the opening then stepped down a log ladder which is also very slippery from excessive use. But there are not a lot of obstacles that thirteen people cannot conquer when they help each other. After all thirteen of us appeared on the other side, we finally sat for a snack break and some conversation.
Two more miles and we were back at the cars. Not a single drop of rain was reported. Below, you can see the route we took.