Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fletcher Peak & Wild Horse Ridge - 5/29/14

Fletcher Peak from North Loop High Point

North Loop and Wild Horse Trail Junction at Meadow

 We were sixteen strong as we exited our cars at the North Loop trailhead on Deer Creek Road this morning. We had had a long wait at the Kyle Canyon Road construction so we were anxious to get started. The air was fresh and the sky was blue. Perfect weather for a climb up to one of the Spring Mountains NRA smaller peaks called Fletcher. Fletcher Peak rings in around 10, 270 feet in elevation. This is considerably less than Mt. Charleston, any Mummy parts and Griffith Peak.

North Loop Trail just Below Meadow
 The group started up the North Loop Trail and eventually separated as the different speeds and abilities took over. Our first regrouping would be at the meadow, we all knew.

Twisted Bristlecone Tree

 The meadow is 1000 feet up in elevation and 1.5 miles in distance. There is a log shelter built there and large views are all around. The prominent pointed mountain above us was Mummy's Nose, a difficult hike which is on the schedule in June. After a small rest, we turned to begin the twelve switchbacks that would take us up to the North Loop high point on this side of the Trail Canyon junction. Again, we separated but we could hear each others' voices from time to time.

Mummy's Nose from Meadow
 The high point would be our second gathering spot. It is here that we got our first view of Fletcher Peak as seen in the first photo of this entry.

Last Switchback Below North Loop High Point

 From the high point, the hike descends around 50 feet in elevation before the Fletcher Peak trail turns off to the left. We stopped again while we got word if the last two hikers were going to continue all the way to the peak. As it turned out, one hiker decided to wait back at the high point and return to the meadow. So, we stepped over the log and started around the hill. From there, we lost a lot of elevation (another 150 feet) going down to the saddle and connecting with the summit climb.

Hiking the Fletcher Peak Trail
 Over the course of the past seven years, the Fletcher Peak trail has improved greatly. It is now easy to follow whereas, before, it was anybody's guess!

Maze of Old Bristlecones

 The views to the right of the trail were wide open from Mummy's Toe all the way to Harris Peak. Mt. Charleston is in there and, today, there is very little snow left on its slopes as you can see in the photo to the left. When the last hikers arrived on the peak, the log book was being circulated. We sat for a well-deserved snack break and took in the view. It is from this peak that the writer saw the best view of the fire and flood destruction from the summer of '13.

View of Last Year's Destruction from Fletcher Peak
 It is amazing that the fire fighters were able to save the little community of Rainbow. The photo above shows the inlet of still green trees that are filled with nice mountain homes.

Desert View from Fletcher Peak

 After the break, we headed down. Fletcher Peak trail was followed by the North Loop trail and its switchbacks. At the bottom of the switchback section and just before we traipsed into the meadow, we hung a left onto the small Wild Horse Trail. This wooded trail leads hikers to both a canyon and a ridge that are good options for descent. They are named Wild Horse Canyon and Wild Horse Ridge respectively. Today, we headed over to the ridge for an adventure.

The Group Drops Down to Wild Horse Ridge
 No one was really sure of the route even though we had been down the ridge several times so .... When we ran out of "small wooded trail" we bushwhacked down while knowing we were heading in the right direction!

Ridge Overlook High Above Deer Creek

 The trail is there somewhere, we knew. However, this was not a group that necessarily needed a trail! At any rate, we found the ridge right where we had left it. The ridge was, as always, very impressive sitting high above Deer Creek. We followed the length of it then dropped down off the end. Most of the group continued dropping all the way into Wild Horse Canyon while two others decided to take an easier route over to Deer Creek and down. Both groups hiked up the road to end the hike. A great morning was topped off with perfect pilot car timing at the construction on the way down!

Descending Wild Horse Ridge
 7 miles; 2500 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Nearing the End of the Ridge

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