Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mud Mack Loop CCW - 5/17/15

Mack's Peak from Break Spot

Happy Explorers

Mummy's Nose & Forehead
 The weather in the Spring Mountains was magnificent today! Cool, low to no breeze, and cloud cover. Fourteen hikers arrived at the Sawmill Trailhead off of Lee Canyon Road for another exploratory hike. This time, the hike was guaranteed to have trail for all but about half a mile. (This half mile was crucial for next week's exploration.) So, down we went into the woods on Sawmill's Yellow Trail. We followed the familiar trail taking the red trail left turn. A nice view of the snow dusted Mummy's Nose and Forehead was seen from the gentle climb.

Mud Springs Trail
  Just as we reached the ridge, the Mud Springs Trail junction turned to the left at 1.1 mile. (Someone had placed a limb across the trail to ward off wayward tourists.) The Mud Springs Trail was new to all of us and we headed down the trail with eyes and ears open! Right away, we saw that the trail had recently been maintained. It was a wide clear equestrian trail complete with fresh hoof prints!

Bonanza Peak Through Trail Foliage
 The trail zigzags in and out of the numerous small washes flowing down from the Sisters Ridge above. There was never any question as to where the trail was located.

Hiking the Mud Springs Trail
 Occasionally, a wide view of Macks Peak opened up to our left heading. Further left, we saw Black and North Sisters rising up. Past Macks Peak, we saw Bonanza Peak. McFarland Peak was hiding from us until we reached the Break Point.

Mud Springs Trail

Wash Crossing
 At approximately 3.5 miles from the trailhead, the trail turned southerly and put us into a deep loose gravel wash. Ugh. The hoof prints led the way and the trail traveled up wash for three quarters of a mile. This is when we decided that, in the future, we should probably hike this loop in the other direction! Of course, this would mean that the dirt road and the "good" trail would both be ascents. Hmmm. Maybe it wasn't that bad.

A good trail makes us smile!
 About five times, a short trail took us around brushy wash obstacles. We wondered if the horses disliked the gravel as much as we did.

However, hiking up the gravel wash section was tough!
 At the end of the last short around trail, a cairn notified us that the Mud Springs Trail would now head across the gravel wash and up the hill on a path as seen below. This photo was taken above the crossing.

Gravel Wash / Trail Junction (Top End)

Taking Our Break
 The trail quickly led us to the top of a ridge looking down on a wide wash about 50 elevation feet below. This was our stopping point for the Mud Springs Trail that continued down into the wash. We took our break here at 4.3 miles. Encouragingly, a small trail turned off to the left in the direction we wished to go. After the break, we followed that trail down to our favorite gravel wash. From there, the trail either went up the wash or disappeared. Not wanting to go in the wash direction, we began bushwhacking up the hill through light foliage.

Sisters Spur Road Junction
 We tried to stay on a southeasterly direction to find a particular curve in the nearby Macks Canyon Road. Soon, we saw the road and kept working toward the goal. The trail map below does not reflect our path exactly but close. We found the campsite we sought then turned left on Macks Canyon Road. Just 2 miles left on the dirt road would bring us back to a vague crossover trail where we would connect again with the Sawmill Yellow Trail. Our cars were waiting! Great day in the mountains!

7 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Hiking Macks Canyon Road

The Worst Section of the Road on an Incline

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