Thursday, August 7, 2014

Fletcher Peak (Up Deer Creek & Down Wild Horse Ridge) - 8/7/14

View Down Deer Creek Canyon

Fletcher Peak from North Loop Trail

From Wild Horse Ridge to Mummy Mountain

 It was a deliciously cool August morning when thirteen hikers parked at the large Deer Creek Road turnout across from the exit of Wild Horse Canyon in the Spring Mountains NRA. (This would be the first turnout on the right side of the road after the North Loop Trailhead as you drive up from Kyle Canyon.) We crossed the road and started hiking up the dirt road which is a little further down. This is named Cougar Ridge Trail. As we climbed the summer homes' road, our hands became chilled. Knowing this wouldn't last long, we just marveled at the phenomena. Our warm up continued when we junctioned with the trail that continued straight when the dirt road turned to the right. A trickle of water came down through the small canyon along the trail. Recent rains have made the trail difficult to decipher in a few places but we knew the way.

Climbing up from Deer Creek to Ridge
 Our hands had warmed up by the time we reached the trail that leads up to the ridge on the right side of the canyon. This is a very steep climb to surmount a ridge that would take us all the way up to Mummy Springs.

Still Climbing to Ridge
 The climb levels a tad when the hiker reaches the ridge, but thirteen hikers could swear that the rate of ascent was not reduced noticeably!

Enjoying Mummy Springs after the Big Climb

 We followed the ridge until it junctioned with the Mummy's Toe Trail. Here, we turned to our left to hike toward Mummy Springs. Since there has been a lot of rain recently, we hiked up the hill to take note of the spring's water flow. It was a mere trickle, however, even a trickle was more than we saw a few weeks ago on another hike. After our visit, we continued up the trail to Raintree. Our pace was pleasant. Steady. It was a good group of hikers.

Raintree Junction
 Curious, we decided to check out the small trail that led from Raintree to the Fletcher Peak Trail on the opposite side of the hill in front of us than the North Loop Trail.

Exploring Small Trail from Raintree to Fletcher Peak Trail
 We had visions in our head of the new trail leading us across the contour and ending at the saddle far below. Nope. It led us straight to the Fletcher Peak Trail junction with North Loop! Our little adventure ended up being a lot shorter than we thought it would.

Fletcher Peak Trail descent to Saddle

 So, we started out the Fletcher Peak Trail and did the regular descent down to the saddle. The trail, that we are getting to know very well this summer, continues over a few small false peaks and finally ends on top of Fletcher Peak. The views and landscape on this part of the hike are gorgeous. Lots of bristlecones and limestone with distant views of Mt. Charleston and Mummy's Toe. Weirdly, we were staying so much together that one hiker described it as a rare AtBF conga line! Yes. We were well matched today.

Fletcher Peak Trail
 Once on the peak, we took in the wide view of Kyle Canyon noting, again, the unfortunate fire ravaged landscape.

Kyle Canyon from Fletcher Peak
 Sign the log book. Eat a snack. Drink some water. And, take photos. (Not sure what Richard and Sylvie saw when the photo below was taken!)

Atop Fletcher Peak

 On our way down, we met up with another club member taking a solo hike and stopped for a short chat. Then, it was back up from the saddle to the North Loop Trail. Turn right. Then we gathered again at the North Loop high point corner. Woo hoo! It's all downhill from here! So, down the North Loop switchbacks, we went ... all together! Conversations never stopped. So, given the jumbled word with letters "f-s-c-a-i-o," what is the word? Janet figured it out!

Switchbacking on the North Loop Trail
 The day had warmed up but it was still very cool and pleasant. We were loving the lower humidity!

Approaching the North Loop Meadow
 At the top end of the North Loop meadow, we turned left onto a small wooded trail that crosses over to Wild Horse Canyon and Wild Horse Ridge.

Hiking the Wooded Crossover Trail

 We followed the ever disappearing trail all the way over to the end of the earth. There, we turned right and started down the ridge on a very feint trail. We arrived at the top end of Wild Horse Ridge and started down the long rock ridge that lies parallel and above Deer Creek. We hiked down the rock with enjoyment and finally, at the end, did a small scramble off of it. From there, we dropped to the dirt road off to the left and returned to our cars. Fabulous hike! Good workout!

The word is "fiasco."

Enjoying Wild Horse Ridge
 6.6 miles; 2500 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Nearing the End of Wild Horse Ridge

Small Scramble off of Wild Horse Ridge

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