Thursday, October 1, 2009

Stanley B / Fletcher Canyon Loop - 10/01/09

Today's hike was a loop which began at the Fletcher Canyon parking area, lead up the roadside wash to Rainbow, crossed the Kyle Canyon Rd. to the Stanley B trailhead, up to the lead mines, up to the ridge, down through upper Fletcher Canyon, through the "rabbithole," and, finally, out.

The climb up to the ridge from the lead mines, went steeply up the wash which has been recently "washed out" from thunderstorms. At times, the going seemed easier than before. Other times, the route was interrupted by fallen trees or moved boulders.

The closer we came to the ridge, the steeper the hike became. We headed out of the main wash at a point where there were two fallen trees ahead. Climbing up to the right, we found another smaller wash and followed it to the top where we gladly took one of two snack breaks with a gorgeous view of Mummy's Toe. (For future reference, always be prepared for two snack breaks lest you run out of food!)

After this first break, we crossed the ridge and headed steeply down into the wash which becomes Fletcher Canyon. We carefully hiked down the slippery slope, walked the tree which was lying in the way of the trail from root to limbs, and came to a screeching halt at a 30 foot dry waterfall. The view was nice but the obstacle meant we needed to go around. In the picture to the left, you will see a portion of the trail we encountered as we went around the waterfall. The hillside was very steep and slippery but everyone got down with hiking aplomb.

Scenery in the next portion of the hike was some of the best that the area has to offer with waterfalls and slot canyons. The picture at the beginning of this entry comes from this segment. Since October is rather late in the season for this hike, the sun was not shining on a lot of this segment and the shade provided a new look. We could also feel it getting colder and colder as we neared the narrows of Fletcher Canyon.

The stream provided accompaniment to the song birds which seemed abundant throughout the hike. The eight hikers were cool and happy as we strode through the fairyland of an alpine scene. Finally, we arrived at the narrows feeling like we had been funneled into a whirlpool of cold air. One by one, we literally slid through the "rabbithole" created by Obstacle Rock. The rock surfaces were extremely slippery from use and there was very very little stopping you once you committed to the jump of a foot or so onto the pile of rocks meant to catch you at the bottom. We kept knocking the rock pile over and each time, we reset the rocks as best we could. After the last hiker came through the hole, we sat for another break.

The hike back out to the road and our cars was uneventful except that we were thankful for the sun as it hit us at the end of the canyon. As a side note, the graffiti that had been marked on the canyon walls is now cleaned up. The people who did the cleaning did an excellent job and you could not even see where the graffiti had been.

The hike, as we hiked it today, was around 6 miles with an elevation gain of around 1700 feet as the graph below confusingly shows. (I'm not sure how we ended higher than we began!)

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