Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mummy Springs via Cougar Ridge Trail - 6/19/14

Mummy Springs (2011)

Today's Coverage

 Sixteen wonderful hikers (fourteen men and two women) set off from the Deer Creek Picnic Area parking lot in the Spring Mountains NRA for a new loop route that would pass by Mummy Springs and Raintree. We crossed Deer Creek Highway and mounted the old dirt road that leads up to the right. Many of us had never even seen that this road was there. It was probably an old remnant of the original Deer Creek Road. We circled around to the left as we got a little further and started following another dirt road up a small canyon.

Well, we don't want to get shot or anything!
 This dirt road appeared that it was still in use even though it was very steep with loose rock. We climbed the tough hill and were stopped cold by a gate. "Private Property," the sign said.

Cougar Ridge Trail Road

 Knowing the lay of the land, we hiked around the posted territory on steep terrain and connected with the road up further, past the national forest boundary signs. A little more climb up the road and we were junctioning with Cougar Ridge Trail Road, a public dirt road that is in a lot better shape. We were now up in the area of several summer homes. The views were fantastic in many directions as we hiked directly toward Mummy Mountain. Soon, we were at the Mummy's Nose Overlook.

Passing Cabins on Cougar Ridge Trail
 After a break, we turned from our first high point of the day and began hiking down the Cougar Ridge Trail past the summer homes and resort cabins.

Remnants of Old Sawmill

 We took the right turn off that goes to the old sawmill ruins then continued out to connect with the familiar Deer Creek Trail and ridge. Due to varying abilities, we got very separated while climbing the steep ridge but we all made it eventually. This is a beautiful ridge filled with bristlecone trees, limestone and views out the wazoo! We regrouped at the trail junction with the Mummy's Toe Trail at the point before the trail begins a series of switchbacks.

Mummy's Toe from Deer Creek Trail Ridge
 Here, instead of turning right into the switchbacks, we turned to the left ... an easy hike over to Mummy Springs. We arrived at the springs about the same time that around thirty girls from the summer camp came hiking in.

Linda Climbs the Ridge

 At the springs, most of us opted not to climb the hill to inspect the dripping water. There just simply was not that much room up there! A report from the two hikers that did go up to see it said that there was barely any water. It did not appear as lush as the 2011 photo shows at the top of the entry. We continued our trek up the trail another third of a mile and stopped under the shade of Raintree for our snack break.

Hiking from Mummy Springs to Raintree
 As we sat for a spell, we watched another twenty girls hike by heading to the springs!

Arriving at Raintree

 The sign at Raintree said "Charleston Pk.  8." It needs a little white paint to spruce it up. We finished our break and headed in the other direction still gaining elevation. The North Loop Trail makes a long switchback here around a small peak but there exists a trail that goes up and over said peak. This trail is useful in early spring when the snow drifts cover the last segment of the North Loop before you get to the top from the other side. It is also a very beautiful peak with fancy bristlecone trees. We called the small peak, Winter Peak.

Climbing Winter Peak
 We climbed up the peak and followed a small trail down the other side where we junctioned again with the North Loop Trail at the last switchback before the high point corner.

Winter Peak Summit

 We got to the North Loop meadow and, again, had a lengthy wait. Steve made use of the natural furniture ... again. Finally, when we were all together, we turned onto the Cross Trail that junctions at the big old tree and headed for Wild Horse Canyon. After one more very lengthy wait break on the way down, we continued through the columbine meadow. The springs area was completely dry. Nevertheless, Wild Horse Canyon never ceases to be a beautiful wooded canyon that ends with limestone narrows.

Hiking Through Wild Horse Canyon
 Even though the wonderful hikers today were trying very hard to slow down their rhythm, it was not an easy task for most and, once again, we became quite separated.

Wild Horse Canyon Narrows

 When the coordinator appeared at the end of the canyon, she was faced with ten tired masculine faces. Okay, there is only so much waiting one can ask for. Therefore, the ten waiting hikers were "released" to go down the road back to the cars and leave. The coordinator waited for the rest of the hikers to arrive and then hiked down the road as well. Thanks so much, everyone, for a fun albeit long morning!

6 miles; 2400 feet elevation gain; factoring out extraneous wait time ... 3.5 hours

North Loop Meadow Junction with Cross Trail

Some of Today's Views

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