Friday, August 5, 2016

Deer Creek / Raintree / North Loop - 8/5/16

Cairn & Roots on the Deer Creek Ridge

View Out from Mummy Springs

North Loop Meadow Arrival

Rainstorm Damage at Deer Creek Picnic Area
 After a hectic week of monsoon weather in the Spring Mountains NRA, eleven hikers basked in the cool temperatures and clear skies for a hike up the Deer Creek Trail and down the North Loop. Today's route would be a new one that began at the parking lot for the Deer Creek Picnic Area. We crossed the road and started down (then up) the paved path that was covered in dirt and debris. A recent strong monsoon, (perhaps even last night), had washed away the hillsides in the picnic area and on the Cougar Ridge Trail dirt road. Deer Creek was filled with mud and logs down by the road.

Rainstorm Damage on Cougar Ridge Trail
 We hiked up the paved path next to the picnic tables then crossed over to the dirt road. There was already a dirt mover working on the road. Things were a mess! Hiking through it all was probably easier than driving through it at this point.

Deer Creek Trail Shelter
 We gathered at the road / trail junction where the road turns to the right and signs prohibit trespassers. Then we started up the trail lying straight ahead.

Climbing Up to the Ridge Trail

Regathering on Ridge
 The trail was in good shape even though it was obvious that the rain water had used the path to run down the mountain. We followed it past the large shelter, past the old sawmill, and past many small cairns until we reached the path up to the right which would take us onto the ridge. We regathered one more time at the top of the hill then took the climb up the ridge separately. It is a steep ridge for an excellent workout.

Finishing Climb up Ridge Trail
 Everyone reached the top of the ridge trail and turned left onto the trail that crossed our path. This is the Mummy's Toe Trail which is a continuation of the Mummy Springs Trail.

Mummy Springs
 Mummy Springs was soon up on our right side while a wide view of the foothills laid out on our left. By now, the ugly cloud that was over this area when we arrived at the trailhead was now gone with the wind. (... get it?)

Raintree Break

Arriving at High Point Corner
 Next, we hiked over to Raintree and took our snack break. The breeze was downright cold! Finally, a break from the rain and hot weather! We had Raintree to ourselves but, after the break, on our way down North Loop, we began seeing a handful of other hikers. We passed around the High Point Corner and dove down the switchbacks. The next gathering spot would be the North Loop Meadow. The character of today's hike was very relaxed and everyone stayed within eyesight of each other as we hiked at a moderate to moderately strenuous pace.

Descending the North Loop Switchbacks
 It was an absolutely beautiful morning. No reason to rush!

Mummy's Nose from Meadow
 When we reached the meadow, we took a small water break. By now, the conversations were flowing fast. As we began our descent down the lower portion of the North Loop, everyone stayed behind the leader lest we miss the shortcut trail near the bottom.

Regathering at the North Loop Meadow

Descending the Lower Portion of the North Loop Trail
 The shortcut trail turns off the main trail at the Wilderness sign switchback. Although it appears to be a clear trail, there are several fallen trees blocking the path. Nevertheless, we found the short way down to an old spur road and followed it out to the paved Deer Creek Road. Next, the group crossed the paved road and followed the spur road on down the hill where we eventually turned left onto the Old Deer Creek Road trail. This circled us around the hill to our left and sent us climbing up a wash.

Trying Out the Shortcut Trail
 At the top of the wash, the trail continued up the hill to the right where we passed above the Cougar Ridge Trail parking turnout.

Crossing Deer Creek Road
 This last part of the hike beats just walking down the road to get back to the cars. So, why not?
Following the Old Deer Creek Road

Passing through the Interpretive Trail Signs
 After passing the turnout, we dropped down the other side to the Interpretive Trail with informational signs about the CCC. Connecting, again, with the Old Deer Creek Road trail, we circled around the hill to the left below the Mahogany Grove Group Picnic Area. Finally, the road led us down to the Deer Creek Canyon. There is an overgrown trail that took us around the end of the gully then, after a fun group photo, we climbed the hill back to the cars above. A very fun morning that all thought must of been 7 miles. Sorry, only 6!

6 miles; 1900 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Circling around the Mahogany Grove Group Picnic Area

Old Deer Creek Road next to the Deer Creek Canyon

Right Leg Up!

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