Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mummy Springs Loop East - 8/31/14

Rabbitbrush with a Backdrop of Mountain Mahogany

Mummy's Nose from North Loop Trail

 This morning, twelve hikers found the parking turnout on Deer Creek Road that is across from the mouth of Wild Horse Canyon in the Spring Mountains NRA. The first thing we noticed was that an orange cone had been placed in the middle of the old road that swings by the canyon. (Perhaps, the forest service would prefer that you not use that road for parking.) We hiked up the road toward the North Loop Trailhead but turned up to the right early on an old trail that took us to the North Loop via shortcut. It was a beautiful Sunday on a holiday weekend and no one was really in a hurry as we hiked the trail up and up.

Happy Hikers on the North Loop
 Of course, we gathered again at the North Loop meadow where there are at least two shelters built with bristlecone limbs found scattered about on the ridge.

Shelter at North Loop Meadow

 Our next gathering was not scheduled until we reached Raintree so the eleven hikers got somewhat spread out while they tackled the switchbacks, turned the high point corner then dropped down to Raintree. Raintree is named for a tree in a movie for some unknown reason. However, it is an old bristlecone (maybe 2000 years old?) that still thrives in this saddle area at the base of the Mummy's Toe cliff. We stopped here for our morning snack break. It was still early so there wasn't a lot of munching going on.

Arriving at Raintree
 The North Loop Trail swings around to the left at the large old tree. But, there is a trail forking off to the right as well. This trail leads to Mummy Springs and continues on to Mummy's Toe.

Preparing for Departure from Raintree

 So, after our small break, we started hiking out toward Mummy Springs. Even though this hike was named Mummy Springs Loop, we never actually arrived there! About a tenth of a mile before we would have reached the short spur trail that leads to the springs, we turned to our right onto a sharp ridge. At the end of the ridge, there is a substantial campsite built with a fire ring and log seating. We hiked through and followed a trail that led us literally over the edge into the abyss! Okay, it really wasn't that bad but it was quite steep as we carefully concentrated on making it down to our right into the messy canyon below.

Passing the East Ridge Campsite
 There is a trail in this area but it was not easy to follow since it probably isn't used very often. When we made it into the canyon wash, the fun had only just begun! There were many fallen trees to step over and find our way around. And, there were a couple of rock "steps" to find our way down.

Reaching the Canyon Wash after a Long Steep Drop off of Ridge

 We were moving slow enough that everyone was being very careful moving among the obstacles. Finally, we merged with the Deer Creek Trail below. From there, we hiked down to the Cougar Ridge Trail dirt road and followed it to our cars out on Deer Creek Road. Near the end of the road, up towards Wild Horse Ridge, we saw four wild horses foraging among the wildflowers. (Perhaps 2 stallions, 1 mare and 1 colt.)

5 miles; 1700 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Messy Canyon with Mummy's Toe at Top

Wild Black Stallion

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