Sunday, June 4, 2017

Raintree via Trail Canyon - 6/4/17

Charleston Peak

Mummy's Toe above the Canopy of Raintree

Mummy Mountain from Trail Canyon / North Loop Saddle

Trail Canyon Trail
 Another gorgeous day in the Spring Mountains NRA! Sixteen club members arrived at the Trail Canyon Trailhead at the end of Kyle Canyon for a 7 mile workout. (Well, one club member had arrived early for a head start up the hill.) The coordinator made only two requirements. We were to stop for gathering at appointed landmarks and we should go the pace we wish to go. It was left unsaid that the group was a strong one and your pace should not exceed a climb to the saddle in 70 minutes. Many of the strong group of hikers reached the saddle in 50 minutes. But, racing was not allowed!

Starting the Switchbacks
Many of us agreed that our preferred method of climbing Trail Canyon's 2.15 miles is with a slow and steady pace. It is also a good idea to try not to have to stop even though that's a tough bar to reach.

North Loop Ridge from Trail Canyon
  By the time we all reached the saddle, it was decided that two of the hikers who were normally quite strong did not feel up to par. They returned to the trailhead. Now, we were fourteen.

Charleston Peak from Trail Canyon

Gathering at the Trail Canyon / North Loop Saddle
 We shared the saddle with another group of younger hikers who were training for a future trip. When we started out again, we headed straight over the hill connecting with the North Loop Trail. This next section of the hike is one of the more beautiful hikes in the Spring Mountains. The trail circles around the top rim of the Fletcher Canyon Bowl that dropped steeply down to our right. The view out above the bowl held several of the popular mountain peaks.

Circumnavigating the Rim of the Fletcher Canyon Bowl
 We saw Charleston Peak, Griffith Peak, Harris Peak, Fletcher Peak, Cockscomb Ridge, and the South Loop Ridge. The cliffs up to our left belonged to Mummy Mountain.

A Buffet of Peaks from North Loop Trail
 After circling the Fletcher Canyon Bowl, we started another formidable but beautiful climb up to Raintree. The terrain had changed from ponderosas to bristlecones as we neared the view of Fletcher Peak across from us.

Climbing toward Raintree

Ralyn broke her Record!
 There were a few hikers that were very happy to see the huge old bristlecone! Both Ralyn and Setsuko gave the big tree an affectionate hug ... each for different reasons. We sat around on logs placed away from the tree for our break. It was windy there at the saddle and some of us were a bit chilly. As soon as we felt refreshed, we started down. Although we started together, the group quickly separated. No worries. We were each enjoying the hike the way we wanted. Our next gathering would be at the Trail Canyon saddle again.

Snacking at Raintree
 Opportunities for photos were better recognized on the way back since Charleston Peak was then in our front view.

Preparing to Leave Raintree
 As we passed a good view of Griffith Peak and the Echo Cliffs, we saw that a lot of the snow has melted. There was a rumor that the South Loop Trail is clear up to the 3rd Overlook.

Starting down the North Loop Trail

Charleston Peak watches over the North Loop Trail
 At the saddle, we tried our hand at the "Na Na," a dance that is probably best left to the high schoolers! But, not to be outdone ... see the photo at the end! We took on Trail Canyon in small groups that separated into different speeds. Everyone gathered at the trailhead and we waited for all to return. A great day on the trail!

Note: The Mary Jane Falls Trail will be closed for maintenance on Tuesday, June 6th. It will reopen on the 7th.

7 miles; 2200 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Descending the North Loop Trail

Approaching the Fletcher Canyon Wash Crossing

Ooo-Na-Na, Put your hands in the air.

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