Sunday, May 21, 2017

Upper Mud Springs Loop - 5/21/17

View from Red Trail

View from Green Trail

View from Yellow Trail

Hiking the Blue Trail
 The primary color array of trails that emanate from the Sawmill Trailhead are beginning to make just a wee bit of sense! More signs helped. Located about 12 miles up Lee Canyon Road from 95 in the Spring Mountains NRA, the Sawmill Trailhead accommodates hikers, bikers and equestrian activities. Today, eleven hikers arrived for a long distance hike in the foothills of the Spring Mountains in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. It was a cool morning but we were prepared for the warmth that would soon arrive. A constant cool breeze wasn't in the forecast.

Waking Up on the Steep Hill
 The trail that leads out from the upper picnic area is the Yellow Trail Loop. Quickly, we turned to our right still on the Yellow Loop. The trail stayed fairly flat until we reached a junction where we turned left. (Still the Yellow Trail.)

Starting down the Green Trail
 Further up the hill, we met another junction. Turning left would keep us on the Yellow Trail. We turned to the right and, now, we were on the Blue Trail.

Junction - Turn Left to Stay on Green Trail

Hiking down Wash
 At the next junction, the Blue Trail continues with a jog down and left. Straight across was the Pinyon Pine Loop (not sure what color ... orange?). We turned to our left (also not sure of the color). This is a steep hill that woke us up! At the top, we passed the No Mads Trail junction then turned right at the next trail. We had reached the Green Trail which would take us all the way down to a wash connector. And, down we went! At a junction that gave us a choice of straight or left, we turned left to stay on the Green Trail. This put us in the wash below.

Our Trail Maintenance!
 As we hiked down the wash, we came to a trail sign that had fallen. Using the rotten rope that had held it up previously, we tried to tie it up again. Good job, huh?

View to Wheeler Pass & Peak
 When we came out of the wash at the bottom, we headed into a series of undulations that went up and down several arroyos. The terrain was covered with pinyon pine and juniper trees. There were also a few joshua trees. (One joshua looks like the head of a swan!)

Swan Joshua

Over one of many Green Trail Undulations
 When views opened up down to the valley of the Las Vegas Wash, the desert was colorful and large. When we wiggled around to see the mountains, Macks Peak and McFarland Peak rose shyly up over the horizon. We felt like we were in the middle of nowhere! That's a great feeling when you have ten of your best buddies with you. We saw a minimal number of rabbits, a maximum number of lizards and no large wildlife. Yep. We were alone. ... Oops, correction! Behind us came four bikers on fat wheels. "Are you doing the whole loop?", one asked us. "Just the upper loop," we replied. "Have a good one," we exchanged. And, off they went.

McFarland Peak from Green Trail
 By the time we reached the wash connector, we were working on "spent." The undulations had taken their toll and the weather was getting warm.

Nearing the Wash Connector ... Almost
 We turned left in the wash connector and made an effort to keep going without a break just yet. That didn't last long in the loose gravel so we found some shade with stadium seating and refreshed.

Taking a Break in the Wash Connector (Stadium Seating)

The Wash Connector
 After the break, the gravel was more palatable. We finished hiking up the wash and found a really nice trail turning left out of the wash. Thinking this was the Red Trail, we turned. Actually, this turned out to be a steep shortcut to the Red Trail. Next time, we will continue up the wash and take the real Red Trail to the left. Nevertheless, we started up the Red Trail when we found it and a cold breeze started to pop up here and there. Thanks. The Red Trail provided a gentle climb up through washes by traversing the contours of the ridges to the right. "Gentle", that is, until we got closer and closer to the Saddle Junction of the Green Ridge Trail above.

Trudging Up the Gravel Wash
 Our pace during the whole hike averaged just over 2 mph. It was a pleasant pace that we could keep even when going uphill. (A couple of the hills got a little slower!)

Claret Cups on Rock Outcropping
 Finally, we reached the Saddle Junction! Up until then, for 7.5 miles, the group was very quietly working hard. Humorously, when we reached the Saddle Junction (High Point), we simultaneously let out a cross between a sigh of relief and a happy squeal of exhilaration!

Starting Up Red Trail with Mummy's Nose in View

Is this your scarf? (Red Trail)
All downhill from here! We started down the hill and the talking started up again. It had been an absolutely great morning and we had had a fantastic workout. This hike would be a great hike or run for interval training! Just make sure the weather is cool enough. We made sure we drank a lot of water!

9 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Still hiking Strong

At Last! The Saddle Junction

9 Miles; 11 Hikers; Still Happy!

No comments: