Thursday, September 18, 2014

North Loop / Raintree / Fletcher Canyon - 9/18/14

Small Slot in Upper Fletcher Canyon

Mt. Charleston & Autumn Aspens

 One week ago, Hurricane Odille threatened to dump rain on today's trail with an 80% chance. The chance of rain lowered by 10% every day after that with the rain headed off to our neighboring states. When five hikers woke this morning, any chance of rain had disappeared leaving a cool, breezy and sunshiny day. The weather for our hike could not have been better in the Spring Mountains NRA. Taking two cars up Kyle Canyon Road, we left one at the Fletcher Canyon trailhead, piled in the other and drove up to the North Loop trailhead to begin.

Mummy's Nose Under a Cloud from the North Loop Meadow
 The five of us reveled in the coolness and talked about having not hiked for a few days as we huffed and puffed our way up the mountain.

Taking a Break at the North Loop Meadow

 The pace of today's hike was decidedly moderate. We were all very happy to take in the sights and enjoy the moment. At the North Loop meadow, we rested for about five minutes then continued up to start working on the twelve switchbacks. We slowly gained the hill. Near the top, we passed Annie, the black standard poodle, and her people. At the high point corner, we stopped for a couple of photos where Mummy's Toe comes into view among the old bristlecone trees. This was the high point of the hike and our legs felt the climb we had just done. From here on out, it would be a general descent down to the Fletcher Canyon trailhead.

Arriving at Raintree
 We finished this leg of the hike arriving at Raintree. The old bristlecone grabs solidly to the saddle with long roots. We took our morning break here.

Hiking the North Loop Below Raintree

 After the break, we continued down to the left of the old tree on the North Loop Trail. This section of the North Loop is one of many people's favorite. The scenery is exemplary and the hiking is easy. As we circled around the base of Mummy Mountain, Charleston Peak and the North Loop aspens came into view. The aspens were showing off their yellow and orange colors while the blue sky was showing off the 11,916 foot peak.

Helmut Tackles Mummy's Wash
 We passed the first big wash coming down from Mummy Mountain above. Then, we turned left into the second one. Recent downpours have jumbled the slippery limestone rocks in the drainage.

Descending Large Washed Out Drainage

 Our pace slowed quite a bit as we were being extremely careful on the newly placed rocks. Down, down, down the large wide wash we stepped. Finally, we arrived at the huge landmark boulder above where water begins flowing in the drainage. Here is where we ducked under a tree across the small stream and found the Upper Fletcher Canyon trail. Sylvie, our coordinator, did a great job finding the trail all the way down the canyon. Not an easy task since the rains also did a lot of washing here, too.

Following the Trail in Upper Fletcher Canyon
 We took our time searching for the right trails and routes. We visited the waterfalls and small slot canyon. We picked our way slowly through the messed up brush.

Is this what you wanted me to see?

 We arrived at the Obstacle Rock rabbit hole feeling quite happy with our exploration. One by one, we slipped through the hole created between a rock and a hard place. All that was left was an easy two mile hike down to the trailhead. This section of trail is perfectly made for a lot of conversation! At the car, we piled in and drove back up to the North Loop trailhead to retrieve the second car. A great hike!

8 miles; 2053 feet elevation gain; 3018 feet elevation loss; 5 hours

Sylvie Drops into the Rabbit Hole

Dennis Prepares for the Last 2 Miles Below Obstacle Rock

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