Thursday, July 15, 2010
Trail Canyon / Fletcher Canyon - 7/15/10
Ann coordinated today's hike which began by climbing the Trail Canyon trail and ended by descending through the complete Fletcher Canyon. The hike was a mixture of climbing a steep incline, "skiing" down a steep treacherous scree field, enjoying an enchanting canyon with intermittent water flow, sliding through a "rabbit hole" and, finally, hiking back out into civilization.
After leaving a car at the Fletcher Canyon trailhead, we hiked from the Trail Canyon trailhead with twenty- four people. Three hikers had already begun the climb at an earlier start time. Two hikers decided to do a partial hike and return the way they came. So, at the saddle where Trail Canyon met the North Loop, we had twenty- five hikers ready to make the descent behind Ann.
We took a break on the saddle then hiked down the North Loop trail toward Raintree for only around twenty- five yards. Suddenly, we took a hard right ... down. The scree field that we found ourselves in was very large and very steep but we were assured that this was the funnel which led into the source of Fletcher Canyon. Amazingly enough, a small path appeared before us and after a couple more stretches of scree "skiing," we approached a humongous boulder lying in the woods. This was a landmark for Ann. We had found the springs which produced a nice flow of water for the target canyon.
We sat along the water and took our snack break, thankful that the "serious down" had been accomplished. Lo and behold, the trail appeared again and we were soon on our way. We followed the water while being careful not to slide on the steep trail and creek bank. Bushes and trees covered the path sometimes.
About half way down the upper canyon, we were surprised to recognize the beautiful landmark of the waterfall which falls beneath a towering ponderosa pine. We had arrived at the junction of the usual upper Fletcher Canyon route of the Stanley B / Fletcher Canyon hike. There was some relief in the air from Spring Mountain hiking veterans as we now made our way down a familiar trail. Up until this point on the descent, we had made a concerted effort to stay together but, from this point forward, there were many hikers leading in a few directions. Some of us were a little confused as to which hiker was thinking of going the easiest way!
It mattered not because we all made it down through the tiny beautiful slot canyon and into the larger slot which held Obstacle Rock with a minimum amount of slips and falls. (A few slips and falls are simply all in a day's enjoyment!) When we entered the larger slot of Fletcher Canyon, the water had disappeared. Remember the fateful hike that some club members were on when they had to turn back because of the heavy snow? Then, a couple of hikes from the bottom showed water flowing heavily through the Obstacle Rock area? Well, that's over now! Obstacle Rock was dry as a bone!
One by one, the twenty-five of us slithered through the rabbit hole that is created by the huge boulder against the side of the canyon. First, we handed over our pack to Larry who had created a zip line to send our packs down to Joseph, who was on the other end of the rope, to catch them. Then, the larger cameras had to be handed down by Chris who was overseeing the slithering. Last, we reached down through the hole between very slippery rock surfaces and found a log placed on a bed of rock. This was the easiest descent through the hole that we had experienced, thanks to the architect of the log and rocks.
We all got through the hole with around five newbies and finished hiking out through the more recreational portion of the canyon. The drivers retrieved their cars and after it was all said and done, we had hiked six miles including 1500 feet up and 2000 feet down.