Saturday, May 30, 2015

Eagle's Nest Loop / Fletcher Canyon - 5/30/15

Fletcher Canyon Narrows (photo suggested by Jim)

Eagle's Nest Loop Overlook

Starting Out the Fletcher Canyon Trail

 Last year, the Spring Mountains NRA refurbished a 1.86 mile loop trail that circles above and to the right of Fletcher Canyon. They named it the Eagle's Nest Loop for the high and wide overlook afforded from the upper portion of this trail. It is well signed and twelve hikers added this to their foray into Fletcher Canyon today. We started out from the Fletcher Canyon trailhead on Kyle Canyon Road and turned right onto the Eagle's Nest Loop Trail about one third of a mile up.

Starting Up the Eagle's Nest Loop Trail
 The trail climbs up to a plateau then divides. The loop can be hiked to either the right or left. We took the left fork which allowed us to do the switchbacks that came later going down.

Chris' Cave (Once Upon a Time ...)
 From the top of the loop, we had a wide view of Kyle Canyon and the South Loop side. We had a good perspective of the 2013 burn area and avalanche routes from 2005.

Cliffrose Along the Eagle's Nest Loop

 Chris told us his story about a wicked hike up to one of the caves above us from years past. We passed several cliffrose bushes that were in bloom and hiked through groves of manzanitas. At one place, there were a lot of old water pipes that the trail cutters had used to keep the trail from washing away. We completed the loop, turned left onto the "balloon string" of the route and followed the trail back down to the Fletcher Canyon Trail.

Old Water Pipes Used to Stop Erosion
 Today's hike was done at a somewhat leisurely pace. We stopped several times. The weather was hot, around 80 degrees, which is quite warm for the Spring Mountains.

Hiking into Fletcher Canyon
 The Fletcher Canyon Trail leads up through an ever-narrowing limestone canyon.

Starting into the Fletcher Canyon Narrows

 The trail parallels the center wash until hikers forge into the narrows portion of the canyon. Then, the hike becomes a climb up through the wash that sometimes has water flowing down through it. The canyon was dry today. And, the sunlight and shadows played along the gray walls. The narrows squeeze the canyon together so much at around 2 miles up from the trailhead, that a huge boulder that rolled down from above got stuck here probably many many years ago. That boulder became known as Obstacle Rock.

Sunlight Plays on the Canyon Walls
 Obstacle Rock was our turnaround spot today so we sat for a snack break and shot the breeze for a few minutes. ... (past tense of "shoot the breeze")

Barb Relaxes below Obstacle Rock
 The canyon was very pretty today with the sunlight and new spring leaves growing on the trees. Canyon Wrens were very vocal and flew from here to there above us.

Brian's GQ Pose above the Water Chute

 After a nice long break, we started back down the canyon passing several pairs of hikers along with two large groups and a few dogs. The new Spring Mountains Gateway Visitor Center was having its Grand Opening today and crowds of people were in the mountains enjoying the relative cool from the desert below. We were glad that we had started early.

6 miles; 1100 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Fletcher Canyon Narrows

Starting the Return Hike

Hiking Out the Fletcher Canyon Trail

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