Six Sunday hikers arrived at the North Loop Trailhead on Deer Creek Highway this morning around 8am. Already, the parking lot was filling up. It was a busy day on the trail to Raintree which was our scheduled destination. Our fearless coordinator, Lettie, allowed us to ascend at our own speed but we re-gathered at the Meadow and the high point of the hike. We were in no hurry and it was a very pleasant day so no one got too far ahead.
Hiking the North Loop just below the Meadow
Mummy's Nose (Chin) from the Meadow
We climbed the 1000 feet of elevation to the Meadow (seen in the photo to the left) then counted the switchbacks from there to the high point. There are twelve switchbacks before the last climb to the high point. We didn't see any snow in the upper elevations of this hike except for a little at Mummy Springs ... we'll get to that! In order to break the monotony of taking the same photos of this otherwise photogenic trail, we began trying to find animals in the bristlecone tree roots.
Tree Animals from roots of Bristlecones
So, we got to Raintree and we weren't there long before we saw at least ten other hikers pass through. What do you do when the traffic seems thicker than you wanted? You find a different route! Off we went down to Mummy Springs, a somewhat quieter trail. Then ... five other hikers were there. Okay, so yet another route had to be imagined and off we went down the side of the mountain following Don. Sometimes its not good to follow Don! But, today, he did a stellar job of getting us down to the canyon below.
Shelter camp area on Descending Ridge
View from Descending Ridge
Instead of descending down the regular trail found further out from Mummy Springs, we retraced our steps to a ridge found to the east. We started out the ridge, found a camp site, then disappeared over the edge on a steep decline. The footing was loose so our steps dug into the ground just enough to keep us from sliding. At the bottom of the ridge, we were deposited into a canyon that merged with the regular Mummy Springs Loop trail. Descending further, we reached the Deer Creek (dirt) Road and followed it out to Deer Creek Highway. Here, about a third of a mile of pavement lay between us and the cars. What a delightful surprise of a hike today!