Thursday, July 9, 2015

Raintree (Up North Loop / Down Wild Horse Canyon) - 7/9/15


Raintree in Front of Mummy's Toe

CCC Trail Parking
 Whew! Kay's back! And, fifteen hikers participated in a somewhat leisurely hike to Raintree today. As we drove up Deer Creek Road, we were very pleased that it has been repaved. THEN, we got to the North Loop Trailhead and all ... all ... the parking turnouts were blocked off. "NO PARKING!" the signs said. Well, we drove on down and found the new CCC Trail parking area and decided to use it for our start. Other cars were parked in decidedly unusual places but everyone was obeying the signs. Maybe by the weekend, they will have all the turnouts paved and ready for business.

North Loop Trail
 We hiked back up the road to the North Loop Trailhead and started up. Right away, the group separated and we became spread out over at least a half mile.

View from North Loop Trail

Bristlecone & Paintbrush Flowers
 It usually goes without saying that the head of the line stops to wait for the last hikers at the meadow area found just before the switchbacks begin. Someone up front was new and this didn't happen. Regardless, we all climbed at our own pace and enjoyed it immensely! The temperatures were quite cool and there was a decent breeze. The mountains were welcoming us today. We blew past the meadow and continued up the switchbacks. Not even a stop at the High Point Corner happened!

Bristlecone Cones
 The bristlecone pine cones are turning shades of red and yellow. Very colorful!

Trail Among the Bristlecones

New Trail Sign at Raintree
 Several of today's hikers had not been to Raintree before. Therefore, the hike was somewhat of a learning / teaching experience. "There's this junction. There's that junction. No. Not sure how they know that Raintree is 3000 years old! I also heard it was only 2000 years old." Upon arrival at the huge old tree, the new trail sign stood proudly in the middle of the trail junction. This sign was sorely needed although what was left of the old sign will be missed.

Roots of Raintree
 When visiting Raintree, avoid sitting or standing on its large structure of roots. Today, the cold wind bunched us up behind the assembled wind break made of logs and limbs.

Pow Wow at Raintree

Gathering at the Wild Horse Trail Junction
 All but two hikers made it to Raintree and Chris made sure we all would stay together for the descent. Soon, we started back to the High Point Corner and dropped down the switchbacks. At the bottom of the switchbacks and just before we stepped into the meadow, we turned left onto the Wild Horse Trail, a connector trail for Wild Horse Canyon and Wild Horse Ridge. Many newly fallen trees lay over this trail and a lot of up and around hiking was required. Finally, we took the turn right to begin dropping steeply down to Wild Horse Canyon.

Dropping Down into Wild Horse Canyon
 At the bottom of the small switchbacks, we pointed out Cactus Jack's Trail. This trail that goes to the left ends up at the beginning of Wild Horse Ridge. But, for now, we continued down into the canyon where springs feed two fields of columbines.

Columbines in Wild Horse Canyon

Hiking Through Wild Horse Canyon
 The Wild Horse Canyon Trail has graduated to Google Earth! Yep. It can be seen now on the map. The trail is soft and we saw hoof prints of wild horses that had been there recently. We followed the trail out between two walls of limestone and ended up on Deer Creek Road not far up from where we had to park today. Very pleasant hike.

6 miles; 1800 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Blooming Prickly Pear

Wild Horse Canyon Narrows

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