Thursday, August 14, 2014

Raintree a Different Way - 8/14/14

North Loop Meadow

Mummy's Nose from near Raintree

 It was a very pleasant Thursday hike for eleven hikers, today. Strangely, everyone seemed to be in the same achy slow mood so we stayed together throughout the hike enjoying the beautiful day. We drove up into the Spring Mountains and parked at the Deer Creek Road turnout that resides across the road from Wild Horse Canyon, a popular alternate trail for the North Loop. We started up the nearby dirt road named Cougar Ridge Trail until we spied a very large boulder up on the hill to our left.

Wild Horse Ridge
 We hiked up the hill passing the boulder and found the approach trail to Wild Horse Ridge. At the limestone, we climbed up on top of the rock ridge and began our ascent balanced on the wide limestone perch.

Climbing Wild Horse Ridge toward Mummy Mountain

 Wild Horse Ridge is a fun place to be! There are wide views all around and the climb is easy. It continues up for over half a mile and, eventually, we could see our first target up to our left - the North Loop Meadow. Finally at the top of the rock ridge, we followed a new trail for the club - Cactus Jack's Trail. This trail connects Wild Horse Ridge to the Wild Horse Canyon Trail. It is in good condition except for a fallen tree near where the trail junctions with the Wild Horse Canyon Trail at the bottom of the switchbacks.

Hiker Silhouette
Cactus Jack was somewhat of a legend in the Las Vegas hiking community. He was an adventurous man who led hikes for Red Rock and pioneered hikes in the Spring Mountains and out at Lake Mead. With the help of a few hiking buddies, this was one of the trails that Cactus Jack "cut."

Starting Out Cactus Jack's Trail

  Using this trail enables the hiker to continue climbing to the meadow via small switchbacks on the steep terrain. The switchbacks were numerous! Finally, we found ourselves on the Crossover Trail and continued on to a small break at the old tree at the top of the North Loop meadow. From here, we climbed the North Loop switchbacks up to the High Point Corner. We were still not in a hurry and we ended up trickling in to the Raintree break at a relaxed pace.

Climbing the North Loop Switchbacks
 While on break, we continued our debriefing of two of our hikers. They have recently returned from a trip to the peak of Mt. Ranier. Some of us can only live vicariously through them!

Passing the High Point Corner

 We finished our break and continued down to Mummy Springs by taking the right trail fork at Raintree. This is a very pleasant section of trail through the woods. Views open up on the right side of the trail down to the ridge which we would be taking on our impending descent. Up to our left, we passed Mummy Springs. The rock at the springs was sufficiently wet, meaning that the typical trickle of water was present.

View of Deer Creek Ridge used for Descent (Foreground)
 Not far past the springs, we came to the ridge descent trail junction which, at this time, is marked by a barbell weight lying next to a tree. (How did that get up here?)

Passing Mummy Springs

 Conversation and concentration ensued as we headed steeply downhill. It got really steep when we dropped off the ridge into the canyon area. The trail took us all the way down canyon to where it empties out onto the dirt road (Cougar Ridge Trail). From there, we simply followed the dirt road back to our cars. Great hike - just right for today. A little new stuff!

5 miles; 2000 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Finding the Deer Creek Trail among the Thistles

Junctioning with the Dirt Road

No comments: