Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fletcher Peak - 6/24/10

The twenty- one hikers who showed up for the Fletcher Peak climb divided into two groups; a small group of five who elected to make the climb up through the more difficult route of Hummingbird Gulch and the larger group of sixteen who hiked the more traditional route which begins at the North Loop trailhead located on Deer Creek Highway.

We climbed up to the meadows taking only one small break and after resting for just a minute, we began hiking up the switchbacks toward Raintree. Making good time again, we stopped at the 10,000 foot corner for another break before heading down toward Mummy's Toe. Just before reaching the old bristlecone tree named "Raintree," we turned left onto an obscure small trail which lead down to a saddle at approximately 9800 feet.

This is the saddle located at the top of the Humming- bird Gulch route. The other five hikers were not quite there yet so we continued our climb up to the peak. This final part of the climb was the steepest and took us up to the 10,280 foot mark in elevation. For many of us, the altitude was taking its toll and heavy breathing could be heard from fellow hikers as they found their way up. The trail was faint but unnecessary as the blue sky beckoned us from below.

The view from the peak was 360 degrees of familiar Spring Mountain landmarks. We saw Griffith Peak, Kyle Canyon, Mt. Charleston Peak, Mummy Mountain, the old testing site in the far desert and, yes, even Wilson Peak and Bridge Mountain in Red Rock. The sky was clear and a blustery cool wind blew as we sat for our snack and wrote in the log book.

After about ten minutes, the group of five hikers made their appearance on the peak. Being very strong hikers, none of them seemed worse for the wear. (Translation: they still looked fresh and ready for the next challenge.) And, soon, we all headed back down via the traditional route. At this point, much to our coordinator's chagrin, we became very spread out as we made our way down the now familiar route.

Those hikers that were still far enough back in the long broken line heard that the coordinator had intended to take a slightly different route down from the meadows utilizing the Wild Horse Canyon trail and twelve hikers turned left at another old bristlecone when the coordinator caught up. We took a delightful descent through the canyon and came very close to seeing a large animal that hurried through the brush when we approached. Was this the fabled wild horse who lived in this area? We thought he was dead. Oh well, perhaps it was only his ghost!

This hike climbed from 8500 feet to 10,000 feet to 9800 feet to 10,280 feet. Then it reversed over an out and back distance of 7.6 miles.

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