Sunday, July 17, 2016

Wild Horse Ridge / Raintree / Deer Creek - 7/17/16

Wild Horse Ridge

Raintree Saddle

Mummy Springs

Climb up to Base of Wild Horse Ridge
 Today's loop hike in the Spring Mountains NRA began at the large turnout area across from Cougar Ridge Trail (dirt road) on Deer Creek Road for thirteen hikers. The loop would take the nature of a reversal of a hike we did a few weeks back. But, this time, we would utilize Wild Horse Ridge instead of the canyon. So, we crossed Deer Creek Road and started up Cougar Ridge Trail for about a quarter mile until we saw a very large boulder up the hill on our left. At an easy place to climb the left bank, we began ascending to the base of a long rock ridge called Wild Horse Ridge.

View from Wild Horse Ridge
 As we neared the ridge, a trail led us the final few steps. We mounted the rocky ridge where it dipped down to take us up.

Beautiful Morning in the Spring Mountains
 This immediately put us up high enough to get a great desert view toward the foothills and a nice view of Mummy Mountain in front of us.

Hiking Up Wild Horse Ridge

Mummy's Nose from the Ridge
 The climb up the ridge was pleasant although it seemed more sloped than it does when using it for a descent. We enjoyed the views and made sure everyone was keeping up. At the end of the ridge "proper," we stepped off the rock and found the Cactus Jack Trail bearing to the left. With the group together, we started along this trail which carried us over to Wild Horse Canyon and its trail that emanates down from the North Loop Meadow. Small steep switchbacks turned up to the right and we began the slow climb.

Cactus Jack / Wild Horse Canyon Trail
 With three hikers falling behind, the others continued up to wait at the North Loop Meadow. Those three hikers took the time that they needed and a short rest was enjoyed when we gathered again.

Struggling Up the Small Wild Horse Canyon Switchbacks
 There were not a lot of recreational hikers milling around at the meadow. Kind of a quiet day even though the North Loop Trailhead parking lot was full when we passed by.

North Loop Meadow

Climbing the North Loop Switchbacks
We started up the North Loop switchbacks (12) with instructions to go all the way to Raintree and begin enjoying a snack break. Two by two or three by three, the group trickled into the Raintree saddle area. Each hiker had gotten the climbing workout that was required by his or her own bodies. Still, it was a very relaxed day! When there are sometimes 10 to 15 other hikers at the saddle, today, there were only 2. There was supposed to be a gusty wind blowing up here but it turned out to be a gentle breeze.

Cooling Down between the High Point Corner and Raintree
 As we sat for the break, we wandered over toward the Fletcher Peak side of the saddle and noticed a very unusual and bizarre noise. It had to be wind and a very fast wind.

Nearing Mummy's Toe
 But, where was it? We couldn't see any trees moving that much. And, we couldn't feel anything but our gentle breeze. Perhaps it was blowing up Kyle Canyon. Or, Fletcher Canyon. Very bizarre. It was so loud!

Raintree & Saddle Area

Mummy Springs Trail
 So, after our break, we started down the Mummy Springs Trail. On the ridge that juts out to the right just before you reach Mummy Springs, there were a couple of tents set up in a nice large tidy campsite. Nice location. We passed the springs and went on around to the Deer Creek Ridge Trail junction and turned right to go down the steep ridge. There is a trail that is difficult to see but easy to follow, however, since the last time we were here (2 weeks ago) many cairns have been erected.

Deer Creek Ridge Trail
 Leaving nothing to chance, the cairns were set up on a continuous basis along the trail. Someone put a lot of work into this endeavor.

Dropping the Steep End of Ridge
 Finally, we reached the end of the ridge where we followed the trail (and the cairns) down the steep terrain. But, the cairns didn't end here! They continued down the worn trail passing by the large limb shelter.

Following the Deer Creek Trail

Old Sawmill Ruins
 Before dropping back down to Cougar Ridge Trail, we took a side visit over to the ruins of the old sawmill. There were a few hikers in our group who had not seen this. From there, we returned to the trail and dropped down to the dirt road. Next stop would be the cars but as we passed by the flowing water pipe, a few hikers noticed a couple of wild horses standing in the trees and bushes. A very relaxing workout on the mountain.

5 miles; 1700 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Junction Area with Cougar Ridge Trail

Wild Horse lurking at the Creek

Passing the Big Rock Landmark to Complete the Loop

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