Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Mummy Springs Loop CW - 7/22/19

Mummy's Toe from Deer Creek Ridge Trail


Mummy Springs

Starting up the North Loop Trail
Most of us like loops when we are doing a day hike! Today's loop hike began at Deer Creek Road and included Raintree and Mummy Springs. Eight hikers parked at the next large turnout on the right hand side of SR 158 past the North Loop Trailhead (coming from Kyle Canyon Road). We have named this the Cougar Ridge Trailhead since it is just across the paved road from the end of Cougar Ridge Trail, a dirt road that serves summer houses and cabins on up the mountain. Our clockwise loop route today began by hiking up the side of the paved road a short distance to an old access trail for the North Loop. We crossed the paved road and climbed on up to the North Loop Trail.

The North Loop Trail below Meadow
At this point, we were given the go ahead to climb up to the North Loop Meadow at our own pace.

Scene from North Loop Meadow
We separated into small groups as we climbed up through the woods. It was a beautiful day for hiking. Blue sky. Small clouds. Fresh air.

Group of Hikers arriving at the Meadow

Group of Hikers climbing the 12 Switchbacks
One by one or three by three, we arrived at the meadow and lounged on the large log under the shade of a tree. When everyone had gathered and taken a rest, we continued up the North Loop's 12 switchbacks. Again, we were told we could climb at our own pace and wait at the High Point Corner. Again, we arrived ragtag. None of us were in a hurry. It was very relaxing. I climbed up behind the tree onto the rocky knob to get the photo of Fletcher Peak found below. This ridge continues out for a distance to some cliffs above the Robbers' Roost area on the left and the Hummingbird Gulch area on the right. After this, I searched among the old bristlecones of the Winter Peak ridge for photos.

Fletcher Peak from High Point Corner
Winter Peak is the little peak used when snow covers the last stretch of trail before the High Point Corner. It lies between the two sides of the trail that form the corner.

Mummy's Toe from High Point Corner
When everyone had arrived, we hiked together down to Raintree. Along this stretch, the old bristlecones and Mummy's Toe made more lovely photos.

Bristlecone Beauties

Hiking to Raintree
We hiked into the deserted Raintree saddle. If you only get to hike to Raintree on the weekend, you never get to have the tree all to yourself! Thank goodness, no one was there climbing all over the tree and roots! Please remember folks, doing this only destroys the tree for future generations. Wouldn't it be cool if this tree became the oldest living bristlecone in the world someday? ... It could happen.... But, it is doubtful if dummies continue to abuse it. Just sayin'. We parked ourselves on one of many logs sitting around or near the area. This also allowed a couple of us to do a photo study of the 3000 yo tree.

Arriving at Raintree
After a few minutes of snacking and socializing, we gathered ourselves up and started down the Mummy Springs Trail found leading downhill to the right of the tree.

Taking a Break near Raintree
This is a beautiful wooded trail of around 1/3 mile that undulates down to one of Mummy Mountain's spring outlets. The spring area is seen as a whole in the third photo of this entry.

Hiking Mummy Springs Trail

View of Deer Creek Ridge 
We chose not to climb up to the little wet cliffs even though there is a broken down trail for this purpose. Instead, we took our photos of the spring from afar and, turning around, took photos of the Deer Creek Ridge that we would soon be descending. We waded through some light branches while following the trail around and stopped at the ridge junction. If you were to continue on this trail, there is about 7 switchbacks before the trail degrades to a scramble and climb up to the left. Eventually, you will arrived at the top of Mummy's Toe. (Ah, a hike for another day!) We turned right to start the descent down the ridge immediately passing a rudimentary campsite.

Hiking down Ridge Trail
The trail down the ridge is much more clear than it was when I first started hiking it. ... 10 years ago.

Ridge Trail
When we got to the bottom of the ridge, we had to descend to the ravine through a load of scree. This reminded me why I prefer to ascend this trail for a counterclockwise route. One of our hikers resorted to sitting and sliding. (I'm afraid the pants will not recover.) It was all in fun!

Scree Descent

Old Lean-to Shelter of Limbs
The trail continued down along the upper reaches of Deer Creek. A fair amount of water flowed down through the columbine plants. Clouds were blocking a potentially hot sun. Finally, we stepped out onto the Cougar Ridge Trail dirt road. The junction here is where the road takes a right angle turn. The residents prefer that you not hike further up the road here. We started down the road that also runs next to a harder flowing Deer Creek. Then we were hiking high above the picnic area. We passed under or around the road gate and out to SR 158 right across from where our cars were parked. This was a great hike by Lettie and the group was well matched and convivial.

5 miles; 1600 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours; average moving time 1.3 mph

Small Waterfall in Deer Creek with Columbines

Deer Creek

Finishing on the Cougar Ridge Trail

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Fletcher Canyon - 7/20/19

Tall Walls of Fletcher Canyon Narrows

Ten Happy Hikers

Fletcher Canyon Walls

Hiking the Fletcher Canyon Trail
 All the water that flowed through Fletcher Canyon during the snow melt season has vanished underground and left a beautifully green display of trees and flowers. A few small logs and rocks have been either misplaced or uncovered but the canyon remains basically the same. Eleven hikers arrived in the morning coolness at the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead parking lot to delve into the wonderland between tall limestone walls.

Ron and Sandi were in attendance and Ron took these fantastic photos of the hike. Thanks Ron! We are looking forward to the both of you returning to the coordinating post in late September.

Our pace today was intentionally slow taking stops whenever we wanted. There were a couple of hikers that had not been hiking in any kind of elevation for a while so we didn't push it! The air was decently cool as we made our way up the first mile of the trail into the canyon. It was here that another hiker arrived from behind. I had listed conflicting start times on the schedule and he read the other one. Please shoot me an email if this happens again. I would like to correct it!

Peering up at Surrounding Peaks
 Here, the trail begins undulating on the left side of the canyon wash. We made our way up and down a couple of times.

Hiking through the Mt. Charleston Angelica
 At the bottom of the last undulation, we hiked out from between two large boulders. On the way up to the turnaround spot, we took the trails offered on the right side of the wash.

Columbines in front of Roses

Hiking up through the Narrows
 The trail continues into the beauty between the walls. Watch for the scratchy stingy nettles that are very present at this time. Next, we began seeing a lot of the angelica that is special to the Mt. Charleston area. It is just beginning to bloom. After that, we began seeing a lot of orange/yellow columbine growing and blooming in the wash. The canyon is alive!

We hiked up through the narrow narrows and stopped at Obstacle Rock for our break. A newbie in the group checked out the rabbit hole and ended up able to climb the other side of the obstacle. Perhaps the water flow has improved this climb.

On the way back out the canyon, we stayed in the wash until the right turn between the boulders. The heat was beginning to rise as we hiked down through the last mile of trail. It was a wonderful morning and a great group of hikers. So relaxing!

4.5 miles; 850 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Mt. Charleston Angelica beginning to Bloom

Enjoying the Beauty of the Canyon

Walls below Fletcher Peak above Canyon

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hummingbird Gulch Loop CCW - 7/16/19

Hummingbird Gulch

North Loop Meadow

Flowing Spring Water in Hummingbird Gulch

Climbing over a Bike Jump on Gypsy Trail
The trailhead for this 6.2 mile counter-clockwise loop is at the Robbers' Roost parking area on Deer Creek Road (aka SR 158). The route can be described as 4 miles up and 2 miles down. Eleven hikers arrived for the fun, exhausting and hot hike. We started by crossing the road to the Robbers' Roost Trail. Up the first little hill, there is the old Deer Creek Road that runs perpendicular to this trail. We turned right onto the road and soon could see bits and pieces of the asphalt under our feet. This trail is part of an extensive bike route extravaganza in the area. Staying to the right, we curved around past a couple of bike routes coming in from the left.

Overlook from Gypsy Bike Trail

Gathering at the end of Gypsy Bike Trail

Starting up North Loop Trail

North Loop Trail
Soon, we were on the Gypsy Trail bike route that curved up parallel to the paved road below us to the right. There are several wonderful views from this trail. One of the first views from the trail was that of Robbers' Roost, Hummingbird Gulch and Fletcher Peak as seen in a photo above. The old road trail continues up the curve on a gentle slope and our pace was strong. Other views included Telephone Canyon, Angel Peak and the Juniper Trailhead. We ended up just below the North Loop Trailhead and were required to walk up beside the paved road for approximately 0.2 mile to reach it. This early in the morning, there wasn't much traffic. Although, be careful, because this summer, the traffic speed is very careless on Deer Creek Road. Just sayin' it could be scary.

Gathering at the North Loop Meadow

Flowers & Bristlecone Roots

Old Bristlecone and Mummy's Nose

Starting up the North Loop Switchbacks
 At the trailhead, we separated to climb up to the meadow at our own pace. I believe everyone reached the meadow within 20 minutes of each other. It was here that we meshed with another hiking group who were headed to Fletcher Peak. Our stronger hikers wanted to get started up the switchbacks before the other group finished their break at the meadow so, off they went. The slower hikers ended up leap frogging with the other group of hikers all the way up the 12 switchbacks. We were all very considerate of each other and seemed to have a similar pace. This last section of the "4 miles up" was quite the challenge for me.

The Last climb before High Point Corner

Taking a break at High Point Corner

Mummy's Toe above North Loop Trail

Mummy's Toe & South Ridge from Fletcher Peak Trail
It was a good feeling when we reached the High Point Corner (10,025') for our break. Almost all of the remaining part of the hike was downhill! I found a rock to sit on and eat a small snack. Around this corner, there is a great view of Mummy's Toe. The North Loop Trail leads down between old scraggly bristlecones with the rock faced peak of Mummy's Toe rising in the middle. We talked and laughed for a few minutes. Breezes of cool wind alleviated the rising heat of the summer day up to this point. I had hoped the breeze would reach us in the gulch yet to come. So we started off again down to the Fletcher Peak Trail turnoff.

Fletcher Peak from approach Trail

Gathering at the top of Hummingbird Gulch

Wooded part of Hummingbird Gulch

Nearing the Narrows of Hummingbird Gulch
The left turn is found 0.3 miles down the North Loop Trail. After making the sharp turn up and over the log, we traversed the hillside and dropped down to the Fletcher Ridge saddle. This was our next and final gathering place, the tip top of Hummingbird Gulch ... landmarked by a large beautifully ornate vertical bristlecone root. The trail down begins here! I led the veteran hikers down the wooded half of the gulch. The trail is pretty well worn and there are cairns every so often to comfort the hike leader. Still, it is suggested that the hike leader has a working knowledge about the gulch trail as a whole. It can be a little tricky.

The top of the Narrows

Passing the Spring Area

Starting the Up & Around

Following the Trail for the Up & Around
The wooded section of the gulch winds in and out of the wash that is filled with pine cones and a few fallen trees. My concentration was working non-stop to avoid a spill or missing the trail. About a quarter of a mile down, we came to the first high-walled narrows. But, it was almost another half mile before we came to the main narrows section that began with the flowing spring spilling down from the opposite side of the gulch. This water continued down the wash for only about 50 feet before it disappeared into the ground even before reaching the dry fall hidden in the foliage. It was here that the trail climbs up and drops down to the left, a very precarious and slippery section, to reach the bottom of said dry fall.

Brian carves in the Large chunk of Ice at Bottom of Up & Around Dry Fall

First View of the Walled Section of Hummingbird Gulch

Trail through Scree

Nearing the Bottom of the Gulch
After the dry fall, the trail dives into the rock walls, scree, and brush. It is a constant offering of various challenges of scrambles and finding the trail. The trail was mostly clear yet unintuitive at times. This lower part of the gulch was very hot and the heat wore on me. We felt none of those hoped for breezes. It was a very welcome sight to finally arrive in the juniper glade at the bottom. We turned left on the remnants of the same old road as in the beginning and had to do a little climbing. The road was cut away when the new paved road was built so, at one point, it is necessary to hike into the woods on a vague use trail to connect with the Robbers' Roost Trail. As we all hiked into the Robbers' Roost parking area, we exclaimed that it was, indeed, a Tuesday hike. ... Especially in the heat of a July day. We conquered Hummingbird Gulch one more time! Best hikers in Vegas!

6.2 miles; 2200 feet elevation gain; 4.25 hours; average moving speed (including my slowdowns near end) 1.4 mph

Wooded Juniper Glade near Bottom of Gulch

Connecting the Route at Robbers' Roost Trail

Happy to see Cars on a Hot Day