Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Stanley B / Fletcher Canyon - 6/14/16

Mummy's Toe from the Stanley B Saddle

Ponderosa Pine Waterfall in Fletcher Canyon

Small Slot in Fletcher Canyon

Climbing the Stanley B Canyon Wash
 It was a beautiful day up in the Spring Mountains NRA. The air was fresh with a breeze and the sky was clear of clouds. And, a fantastic hike awaited eight hikers as they set out from the Fletcher Canyon trailhead. However, instead of heading into Fletcher Canyon, we started hiking up the road for a little over a mile until we reached the Stanley B Canyon trailhead. The hike along the road was a mere warm-up!

Stanley B Canyon Wash
 The route started up the rocky wash that leads up from the trailhead turnout. There is a minimal amount of scrambling here.

Old Stanley B Springs Road
 When the wash trail intersects with the old road that crosses the wash, we turned to the right. From there, we took the shortcut trail to the left at the top of the hill.

Scenes from the Mine Area

Climbing Up past the Mine Entrances
 Connecting again with the old road, we followed it to the old mine. The water is flowing freely from the pipe around the left corner. Then, we climbed up the right corner to pass the main mine entrance. A swig of water then up we went. The brush on the trail for the next 50 feet is terrible. Perhaps there was some flooding to rearrange the undergrowth. Just below the first wall scramble, the canyon opened out to what it has been for several years now.

A lot of New Brush
 We stayed in the wash as much as we could. Once in a while, there was a trail to the right or left to take us around logs.

The First Wall Scramble
 There was a second wall scramble then we ducked under the fallen Pinwheel Tree as seen in the photo below.

The Fallen Pinwheel Tree

Resting at the Clearing
 When we reached the clearing, we took a short rest from the steep climbing then proceeded up the left canyon fork. We were staying together very well and everyone was enjoying the adventure. Then ... well, the coordinator missed a right turn and ended up climbing up a very very steep scree filled ridge. Instead of arriving on the ridge saddle above, we ended up above the saddle and had to drop back down for our snack break.

Starting Up the Final Steep Climb
 Everyone climbed without complaint knowing that a good rest awaited them.

Peaks seen from the Stanley B Saddle
 There are mountain views in every direction from the saddle area.

What a Climb!

Starting Down (Steep Rocky Slope)
 After our break, we found the trail that drops down to the wash on the other side. In the wash, we continued dropping on a steep rocky slope. Before the wash started dropping very steeply, we found the trail to the left that leads over to the next canyon. Here, we continued dropping in this canyon. At one point, we balanced along a rotting log. Down we went until we reached an obvious cliff dry fall seen in a photo below.

The Log Walk
 Here, there is another trail (that you really have to look for) that goes to the left again.

Top of the Cliff Dry Fall
 Staying left on the trail (to stay away from the cliff drop on the right), we began a very steep drop down a dirt slope into Fletcher Canyon.

Finishing the Steep Slippery Dirt Slope into Fletcher Canyon

Up and Around the Ponderosa Pine Waterfall
 As we neared the bottom, we could hear water flowing ... a beautiful sound. We reached the bottom of Fletcher Canyon about 50 feet from the top of the Ponderosa Pine Waterfall (named for the large tree that grows at the top of the fall. There is a way to go around this waterfall on the left side of the wash but it is slippery with loose rock. Mike helped us safely down one by one. Photos were taken of the waterfall then we continued.

Bottom of Up and Around
 Dropping through Fletcher Canyon is a matter of following the wash and side trails. The canyon hasn't changed a lot since last year.

Arriving above the Small Slot
 The "secret" right turn above the small slot is overgrown so you still have to look for it.

The Shelter

Following the Wash and Trails
 Someone has built a large shelter of limbs in the lower campsite. And, there are just a few places where fallen trees have changed the hike a little bit. The water flowed on and off since, some of the time, it is underground. A couple of times, the bushes have grown across the trail. As we started down into the upper narrows section, there is a log we used to use that is now completely rotted away.

Easy Does It!
 It is extremely important that you watch your footing on the slippery limestone. Don't trust the solidity of any step on a rock!

Entering the Upper Fletcher Canyon Narrows
 The narrows area just above Obstacle Rock is the same as always. Then, we came to the rabbit hole.

Different Levels of Drop through Rabbit Hole

Top of Obstacle Rock from Bottom
 It is likely that six hikers out of the eight had never descended through the infamous slippery rabbit hole at Obstacle Rock. With Mike's sturdy ankle serving as a handhold, we each were able to come down through the hole and scooch over to complete the descent. This was, perhaps, the most dramatic drop through the hole that the coordinator has ever experienced! After we all got our bragging rights, we hiked the remaining 2 miles out of Fletcher Canyon. Best hike in a while!

6 miles; 1900 feet elevation gain (due to extra elevation at the saddle); 5 hours.

Lower Fletcher Canyon Narrows

Don't miss this turn to the right (coming down)!

The Canyon opens out.

Terrain from Saddle to Fletcher Canyon

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