Sunday, August 6, 2017

Deer Creek / Meadows Loop - 8/6/17

Old Bristlecone at North Loop Meadow

Mummy's Nose from Meadow

Angel Peak through Bristlecone

Are you guys really coming down here?
 The forecast took all chance of rain out. Then, we had a dark overcast sky throughout the hike. Ten hikers loved it! It was cool and shaded throughout the 5 miles that we started at the Deer Creek Picnic Area parking lot on Deer Creek Road in the Spring Mountains NRA. ... And, speaking of deer, ... the first thing we saw as we pondered the drop down the hillside was a foraging mule deer who was quite happy to keep eating until she was positive we were coming down to where she was. She disappeared into the brush as we found the brushy small path at the end of the gully near the embankment of the highway above. We circled around to get to the Old Deer Creek Road remnant that runs along a cliff wall.

The "Messy" Start to connect with Old Deer Creek Road
 As Deer Creek Canyon ran deep on our left, we climbed up the old road circling around the Mahogany Grove Group Picnic Area.

CCC Information Signs and Old Camp Oven
 BTW, does anyone know about the old refrigerator that has been dumped on the backside of this area? If a really cool airplane crash has to be taken out, so should this garbage.

Vickie's Imaginary String

Passing the Cougar Ridge Trailhead Turnout
 The trail (road) veers to the left at the refrigerator and we hiked down a gentle hill. This part of the hike has resting benches on the sides. With one more left turn, we came to a concrete path terminal where information signs are placed about the CCC and their contribution to the trail systems. There are also a couple of their rusted camp ovens placed here and there. From here, we climbed up the next hill to the left and crossed over the area behind the Cougar Ridge Trailhead parking turnout. We dropped back down on the other side.

Dropping to Next Wash
 A slight path helped us down to the wash where the Old Deer Creek Road used to be. This part of the road isn't well preserved.

Old Deer Creek Road
 As we continued down the wash, the "road" became a little more obvious. Then the road turned up the hill to the right.

Taking "Short Cut" to North Loop Trail

North Loop Trail
 At the top of the next small hill, there is a road turn to the right. The Old Deer Creek Road continues straight but our right turn climbed up to the Deer Creek Highway. We crossed the pavement and continued on a trail that clearly winded up to the North Loop Trail. We call this section the shortcut to the North Loop. It comes in handy on occasion. At the junction with the official trail, the coordinator told the participants to climb up to the meadow at their own speed and the group immediately separated into a fast group, middle group and the sweepers.

Enjoying the Morning
 Whichever group you were in, the climb was extremely pleasant. The temperature was very cool and the air was freshly washed from the downpours of last week.

Break at the Meadow
 When all ten hikers had arrived at the meadow, we had a nice relaxing break. There were not a lot of other hikers around yet.

Nature's Sculptures

Wild Horse Canyon Crossover
 We were keeping watch on the darkish cloud over our heads but it did not concern us to the point that we would not take our time on this beautiful morning. After a break of normal length, we headed up to the far end of the meadow where the fantastic old bristlecone stands (first photo) and turned to our right onto the Wild Horse Canyon connector trail. The small trail took us on a traverse then steeply down on small switchbacks into the top of Wild Horse Canyon. Here, we chose the trail that goes straight called Cactus Jack Trail.

Cactus Jack Trail
 The Cactus Jack Trail takes hikers from the top of Wild Horse Canyon to the top of Wild Horse Ridge found next door.

Starting Wild Horse Ridge
 When the trail met the ridge, we climbed up to balance the wide rock ridge for the duration of our descent.

Balancing Wild Horse Ridge

Our Trailhead and the Mahogany Grove Group Site
The cloudy views were beautiful and, at the end of the ridge, we dropped off and turned to the left. A vague trail took us along the Cougar Ridge Trail Road then we hiked down to the road and turned left. A small distance from here, we came to the gated paved trail that turns to the right and leads down through the Deer Creek Picnic Area. It is fascinating to see the many creations by little engineers along the creek bed. (i.e. shelters, bridges and more shelters) The water was running strong but not as strong as when the snow was melting on the peaks above. When we got to the highway, we crossed it back to our cars. Great morning! Nice little interval training hike.

5 miles; 1350 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Coming down off the Ridge

Cougar Ridge Trail

Deer Creek Picnic Area

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