Thursday, June 16, 2016

Deer Creek / Raintree / Wild Horse Canyon - 6/16/16

Raintree from Mummy Springs/Toe Trail

Mummy's Nose at Crossover Trail Junction

Columbines in Wild Horse Canyon

Starting Out Cougar Ridge Trail
 Another gorgeous day in the Spring Mountains NRA brought eleven hikers up to a trailhead turnout just past the North Loop Trailhead on Deer Creek Road. We prepared the packs and crossed the road to connect with Cougar Ridge Trail. This is a dirt road that services several homes found up the hill in this area. It is a "gated community!" We ducked under the gate and climbed the road along Deer Creek. The water was heard rushing below us and when we got further up the hill, we could see it running healthily.

Deer Creek
We climbed then dropped until the road took a decided turn to the right. Here, there are signs posted as seen in the photo below. These signs are for the private properties up the road.

Posted Signs for Cabin Resort Property (Deer Creek Trail = Okay)
 Our trail continued straight along Deer Creek as we left the road. The trail is beginning to appear much more worn than in years past. It is a beautiful trail decorated with columbines.

Deer Creek Trail

Improvising our way up to the Ridge Trail
 We are used to the trail being vague and when we saw that the trail was clear, it confused the coordinator somewhat. Is this really the way to go? So, we turned up too soon not wanting to miss the Ridge Trail. The mistake was quickly recognized and we found the correct hill to climb. It was just a little steeper here is all. (Yep, it CAN get steeper!) Anyway, we found the Ridge Trail and began the very tough climb.

Mummy's Toe from Ridge Trail
Views of Mummy's Toe could be seen ahead to the left. Its hike will be done in the coming weeks using this same route.

Rita at Mummy Springs
 We gathered again at the Mummy's Toe trail junction. What a climb! A breath or two and we turned to the left.

Jeff stands near Snow at Mummy Springs

Hiking from Mummy Springs to Raintree
 Soon, Mummy Springs was up to our right. A short climb up to the springs showed us that water was flowing strong from the rocks. There was still a large patch of dirty snow on the left end of the small cliff. We returned to the main trail and continued up to Raintree and the North Loop Trail junction. Here, we sat for our snack break. Still missing the log wind break, Stephen suggested that it is possible that stupid people were building fires at the base of the ancient tree and that is why the longstanding wind break was dismantled. (Stephen didn't say "stupid.")

Tree Art
 It should also be repeated that hikers should not sit on the gorgeous root system of Raintree. We all want to keep Raintree healthy.

Taking a Break at Raintree
 At the end of the break, we continued up the North Loop Trail passing the junction of the Fletcher Peak Trail. We passed the high point turn then descended the twelve switchbacks that followed.

Hiking from Raintree to High Point Turn

Hiking Down the North Loop Switchbacks
 A left turn just before hitting the meadow put us on the Crossover Trail that leads to Wild Horse Canyon and Wild Horse Ridge. Today, we descended the small steep switchbacks into Wild Horse Canyon and had a very pleasant hike down past the columbine covered springs and through the small narrows. When we emerged from the canyon, our cars were in sight to our left. Great short distance hike with a nice workout included.

5 miles; 1750 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Passing Columbines at the Wild Horse Spring Area

Entering the Narrows of Wild Horse Canyon

Nearing the Exit of Wild Horse Canyon

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