Thursday, August 12, 2010
Raintree (via North Loop)
Raintree was the focus of today's hike up the North Loop Trail and down Wild Horse Canyon. Seventeen hikers made the 1500 foot climb to sit under the old tree which, by some estimates, is 3000 years old and counting. The total distance for the hike was somewhere in the range of six miles and the weather was gorgeous.
From the North Loop Trailhead to the Meadow, the trail climbs up through the woodlands and into limestone and bristlecone territory. It ends with a few switchbacks as we near the saddle area. After a small break, we continued up through the next set of twelve switchbacks which climb a little steeper up through more pine forest. At the top of this section, we were close, if not over, the 10,000 foot elevation mark. This required another small break.
From this peak of the hike, we descended around 200 feet of elevation as we hiked along the ridge line with Mummy's Toe peak rising in view in front of us. Raintree stood majestically at the foot of the Toe still living heartily as seen in the first photo. Here, we took a snack break and discussed which way to go down the mountain. Democratically, the most votes went to Wild Horse Canyon so we began our descent; which actually began as a climb back up to that 10,000 foot elevation mark.
Gathering at that high point then again at the meadow where a humming- bird hovered about two feet from this blogger for about 3 or 4 seconds ("WOW"), we turned left and began our adventure on the Wild Horse Canyon Trail. Several of the attending hikers had not hiked this trail and this always makes a hike even more enjoyable to the veterans. Showing the rookies the "ropes" makes the hike seem new to everybody!
We hiked down the small switchbacks, circled around Marg's "Secret Garden" of springs and columbines, and passed through the small slot canyon to come out at Deer Creek Highway. A small walk up the road brought us back to our cars.