Sunday, July 3, 2016

Fletcher Peak via Deer Creek Trail - 7/3/16

Mummy's Toe from Deer Creek Ridge Trail

Fletcher Peak from North Loop Trail

Mummy's Toe from Fletcher Peak Trail

Hiking up Cougar Ridge Trail Road
 "Fourteen" was the magic number today! On a beautiful cool morning in the Spring Mountains NRA, fourteen hikers started their hike from the turnout parking across from the Cougar Ridge Trail dirt road. We climbed the road up past Deer Creek which was flowing to our right. When we reached the right angle turn in the road to the right, we went straight. This is where the Deer Creek Trail begins up through the display of limestone and columbine.

Deer Creek
 This trail is difficult to follow. It leads up through the wash but then winds in, out and over neighboring terrain.

Starting up Deer Creek Trail
 One particularly memorable landmark is the large shelter made of limbs that the trail passes.

Gaining the Ridge on Deer Creek Trail

Limestone Terminus of Ridge
 Next, the trail passes one ravine coming down from the right. Then the trail makes its way over to climb up the side of a limestone scree covered steep slope. There is a trail going up in the scree. This is the ridge part of the Deer Creek Trail. At the top of the steep slope, the trail continues although difficult to see. Nevertheless, it balances the ridge all the way up until it junctions with the Mummy's Toe Trail that will be perpendicular to the ridge trail.

Deer Creek Ridge Trail balances the Ridge
Today's climb up the ridge was slower than usual but the stronger group of hikers that climbed out front were patiently waiting at the top.

Junctioning with the Mummy's Toe Trail
 When we were all finally on the Mummy's Toe Trail, we turned to the left and followed the trail past Mummy Springs seen up to the right in a clearing.

Mummy Springs

View Back at the Ridge we Climbed (Foreground)
 As we continued along this trail, we could see the ridge that we just ascended in the foreground to our left. Steep bugger! Also, to our left, there was a newly fallen tree. The bristlecone needles were still green as they lay silently down the slope. Two nights ago, we had a tremendous storm with high winds. Perhaps this tree was a victim. Next, we made our approach to Raintree where several recreational hikers had accumulated. One hiker was firmly planted on the roots of the old tree and refused to move when asked.

Heading over to Raintree
 As much as many of us would like it to be, this world isn't only about us. Just a thought.

Passing Raintree (Please don't sit on the roots.)
 We didn't stop at Raintree and continued hiking to the Fletcher Peak Trail junction. There, we left two hikers who decided to wait for the rest of the group to return from Fletcher Peak.

Dropping down to the Fletcher Peak Trail Saddle

Fletcher Peak Trail
 The twelve remaining hikers took off down the Fletcher Peak Trail to its saddle. We had just climbed this peak two weeks ago and, today, the adventure seemed shorter. Fletcher Peak Trail is a beautiful hike with gorgeous views of surrounding mountains. It is decorated with lots of limestone and bristlecones. The trail climbs over two or three small peaks before it reaches the last climb up to the peak. You know you are at the last climb when you notice a lot of limestone outcroppings embedded in the mountain.

Griffith Peak from Fletcher Peak Trail
 Although the last hikers were slower than the lead hikers, we were not that far behind.

The Last Dip
 Our training hikes, this summer, have served to strengthen. We climbed to the south end of the peak first.

Overlook from Fletcher Peak

Overlook from Other End
 From the south end of Fletcher Peak, we saw a wide panorama of Charleston Peak and the South Loop rim. We turned to go to the north end and saw Mummy's Nose, the North Loop Trailhead and, even further out, desert playas. The small cloud hanging over Mummy's Nose was the 20% chance of rain that never materialized. We all signed the log book and enjoyed a break for a few minutes. We descended from the peak without too much urgency.

Happy Summiters
 The two hikers that stayed back at the North Loop junction were still there on our return. Next, we turned to our right on the North Loop Trail to pass around the High Point Corner.

Returning on the Fletcher Peak Trail
 The twelve switchbacks were no problem and we stopped at the Wild Horse junction for a few minutes. Nevermind why....

North Loop Trail to High Point Corner

North Loop Switchbacks
 The choice of descent, today, was Wild Horse Canyon. We followed the connector trail out to the small switchbacks that took us down rather steeply. Finally, we passed Cactus Jack Trail turnoff and descended into Wild Horse Canyon, an extremely pleasant wooded canyon that culminates in a squeeze through small narrows. Once through the narrows, a left turn brought us right to our cars. Enjoyable hike in the mountains.

6.5 miles; 2300 feet elevation gain; 4.25 hours

Wild Horse Canyon Switchbacks

Blooming Lupine on Wild Horse Trail

Wild Horse Canyon Trail

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