Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hummingbird Gulch / Fletcher Peak Loop - 7/8/12

                                           Hummingbird Gulch

                                Window seen from Hummingbird Gulch

 Seven hikers went up to the Spring Mountain NRA's Deer Creek Highway for a Sunday stroll this morning. The relaxed hike began and ended at the Hummingbird Gulch parking located on the left as you drive up toward Robber's Roost. The hike would have a 2600 elevation foot climb and descent over the course of 6.5 miles. Did I say "relaxed?" Well, it was certainly a tough hike, however, the pace was not pushed on this very warm day.

 There is a fairly clear trail leading up through the rocky gulch but at times, it was very steep and covered with loose limestone scree. It was only a little brushy and, at one point, there was a small amount of water running from a nearby spring. After the water, we climbed out to an overlook area where we saw the scene pictured below. At the overlook, there is a shelter built with limbs.

                                Overlook approximately half way up gulch.

 Climbing past the overlook area, we came to what is known as the "split rock" as seen to the right. The trail continued up through the forest as we passed by a dry skeleton of a horse's head. We took several breaks in the heat. But, the small trail continued to wind up and around and around and up until the Fletcher saddle came into sight.

 At the saddle, three hikers decided to take their break there while the remaining four hikers continued the climb to Fletcher Peak. While resting, a small exploration was made down the canyon on the other side of the saddle. Someday, we would like to take this new trail down to Fletcher Canyon but, today, the decision had already been made to change the planned hike to a loop down the North Loop Trail.

                View of Mt. Charleston and Mummy's Toe from Fletcher Saddle.

 After a prolonged break, the three hikers decided to climb up to the North Loop Trail and wait for the other four hikers at the North Loop high point. On the way, both groups of hikers met up with another group of Around the Bend Friends who had decided to climb Fletcher Peak the regular way using the North Loop. At any rate, we regrouped at the high point and began our descent.

 Quickly, the group spread out as old injuries took their toll. Halfway down to the meadow, the leaders called back through the switchbacks and offered to reach the cars at the gulch parking ahead of the last person in line and drive up to meet that person at the North Loop Trailhead. (Don't mind if I do!) And, off they went.

                          Mummy's Toe as seen from Fletcher Peak trail.

 The six hikers put a lot of space between them and the last hiker as they continued through the meadow and down. At the trailhead, they hung a right DOWN on a maze of bike paths which were filled with bike jumps and banked curves. It was reported that the bike trails were steep and very slippery.

 One mile downhill and the six hikers reached the gulch parking while the last hiker made her way down the road where she could see the bright red truck pull out in the distance. The offered ride was much appreciated when it arrived and the Sunday stroll was in the history books.

                                       North Loop Bristlecones.

                                          Lower North Loop Trail.

                                   Elevation graph for hike point to point.

                                 Elevation graph for loop hike.

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