Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fletcher Canyon - 5/29/10

What fun we had today! Twenty-nine hikers hiked Fletcher Canyon in the Spring Mountains today. It was quite an adventure since we didn't know what conditions to expect when we began. The air was cool and fresh as the wind blew up the canyon but, in the sunshine, it became warm. This hike is almost four miles with a small elevation gain of only 430 feet. The holiday weekend did not bring the crowds to the canyon so we were able to enjoy the canyon with minimal extra friends.

The first sign of the spring thaw was the large amount of water flowing down the wash beginning at the point where the trail begins leading up the hill to the left. Coming out from between the two large rocks which symbolize the turn in the trail into the slot canyon, we began seeing large patches of snow on the sides. The snow patches were rounded and drooping in Gaudi-ish fashion. Immediately, we noticed the lovely smell of cedar and pine and realized that we were standing in the middle of what must have been a large avalanche from the winter snows. There were trees down and the pine needles were carpeting the ground.

Soon, the canyon had narrowed so much that we were essentially hiking up the shallow creek. In a few places, it was necessary to cross over snow drifts which still sat frozen in the middle of the trail. The creek flowed underneath the snow and we had to take care that the snow was not going to collapse beneath our feet as we hiked.

The final "snow bridge" was a doozy! For around forty to fifty feet, it was necessary to climb the snow, hike up the canyon, then climb down the snow in order to get to the end game of Obstacle Rock. This part was slippery and the consequence of falling would have resulted in a ten foot steep slide down to a hole that would have been difficult to climb out of next to the canyon wall. We all made it, with much ado, and sat to enjoy Obstacle Rock which had a lot of water flowing on each side of it through the narrow opening.

Few by few, we began making the return hike which was no less difficult through the snow and water. The canyon was beautiful so we took our time getting out. Below, a picture of a deer which came running across the road when we were leaving was taken by Becky Anderson, a new guest photographer. Nice catch, Becky! Those critters are pretty fast, aren't they?

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