Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fletcher Peak via Deer Creek Loop - 8/8/13

View From Fletcher Peak of Griffith and Harris Peaks

Mummy's Toe from Fletcher Peak Trail

 The hike for today began at the first turnout on the right after the North Loop Trailhead on Deer Creek Highway in the Spring Mountains NRA. Fifteen hikers exited their cars and breathed in the fresh cool mountain air. After making our preparations, we began hiking up the nearby dirt road that leads up beside Deer Creek. Our first gathering point was where the dirt road took a 90 degree turn to the right and the Deer Creek Wash Trail continued straight.

Climbing to the Deer Creek Ridge Trail
 We followed our navigator, Paul, up the wash trail past the cool lean to then turned right at the appropriate time to climb up to the ridge trail. There is a small cairn balanced on a fallen tree that lies on top of a large boulder here.

Hiking the Deer Creek Ridge Trail

This climb up the ridge is steep and was somewhat of a rude awakening for a few of the hikers. However, when we got to Mummy's Toe Trail, we knew that the most difficult part of today's hike was over. At our fourth gathering point, we enjoyed a fairly dry Mummy Springs. (The trail up to the springs has recently been blocked by logs and limbs. We climbed over them!) After a few photos were taken, we continued on up the trail to Raintree.

Hiking Between Mummy Springs and Raintree
 At Raintree, we sat for another small break. The pace was very pleasant and no one was running today. So every chance we could stop for a moment, backs were relaxed by sitting.

Taking a Small Break at Raintree

 As we left Raintree, there was a line of pretty young girls approaching on the North Loop Trail. They were from a nearby girls' camp and their smiling faces added to the freshness of the air. We turned onto the Fletcher Peak Trail and dropped down to the saddle where Hummingbird Gulch intersects. Two hikers stayed behind here and waited for the remaining thirteen hikers to return. We continued along the ridge that held three or four small rises before the final big one!

Hiking Along Fletcher Peak Trail
 The wind picked up noticeably along the ridge. We followed a good trail all the way.

Fletcher Peak Trail

 The view from the ridge showed us Mt. Charleston, Griffith Peak, and the small fire near the South Loop Trail that has been burning for a couple of days now and was growing. Limestone and bristlecones decorated our path and we climbed up to the peak through the trees. By the time everyone had summited, the log book had been passed around. There were two or three hikers who were new to the peak and their awe refreshed our awe of the surrounding views.

On Fletcher Peak
 Many peaks could be seen from Fletcher Peak including Mt. Charleston, Griffith Peak, Harris Peak, Mummy's Nose, Mummy's Tummy, Wilson Peak, and Mt. Potosi. In addition, on one side, the desert floor colored the horizon.

Mummy's Nose from Fletcher Peak

The line of hikers stayed together for the whole descent ... somewhat unusual. We came down from the peak then climbed back up to the North Loop Trail where we talked to one of the young girls who was lagging behind her friends. We especially liked her T-shirt that read, "Keep Calm and Hike On."  She bounded up the trail full of energy and we followed ... with a little less energy! Gathering again at the North Loop high point corner, we began descending the switchbacks full of conversation.

Back on the North Loop Trail
 The lively conversation quickened the descent and we were down at the meadow in no time.

Reaching the North Loop Meadow All Together

 There, we found the two hikers that had not summited. They had gone on down because the wind at the ridge saddle was quite cold. We decided, as a group, to finish our descent on the Wild Horse Canyon Trail. Following our navigator again, we talked our way down the little switchbacks and on through the canyon. When we arrived back at the cars, three GPSes had three distances; 6.4, 6.5, and 6.6 miles with almost 2800 feet of elevation gain. A great workout at a nice pace. ... And, we stayed together!

Finishing the Hike in Wild Horse Canyon
 On our way out of the area, we spotted a helicopter carrying a load of water towards the smoking section of the South Loop Trail.

Helicopter with Load of Water for the Fire

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