Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mummy's Toe - 7/26/11

The hike to the top of Mummy's Toe, as seen above, can be done as an out and back or as a loop with a partial out and back. Tuesday's hike was done in the loop version. Below, the hike is described as the writer assumes the hike was done. No reports have been given at this time.

The hike begins at the North Loop trailhead parking on Hwy 158 (Deer Creek Hwy). After hiking northwest down the road toward the Deer Creek Picnic area for around a third of a mile, take a left onto a dirt road which climbs up beside the small creek which flows year round. At 1.3 miles into the hike, continue straight where the road takes a 90 degree turn to the right and begin climbing up a wash for another third of a mile. Turn right slightly and begin climbing a steep ridge for another third of a mile. Here, you should find the Mummy's Toe trail that begins at Raintree on the North Loop.

Turn right onto the trail and climb the switchbacks to the final climb of the tip of the toe. Chris describes this section as "a very steep climb on a worn trail to the edge of the Toe. There is some exposure and Class III scrambling in the last half mile to the peak." We are assuming the views are great! Now, reverse the final .7 mile back to where the hike meets the trail and continue on the trail passing Mummy Springs up on the right. One mile from the tip of the Toe is where Raintree resides. Then continue down the North Loop in a northeast direction passing through the meadow after about 1.2 miles. Another mile and a half brings the hiker back to the car at the North Loop trailhead. The hike is advertised as an 8 mile hike with 2600 feet of elevation climb.

Close up view of upper portions of hike.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mummy's Tummy - 7/19/11

The photo of Mummy Mountain above was taken in the fall of 2010 from the peak of Mt. Charleston. From this vantage point, the viewer clearly sees the aspens (orange trees), the scree field and the approach ridge to Mummy's Tummy.

The hike up to Mummy's Tummy is a rather daunting climb. It begins at the Trail Canyon trailhead which is located at the end of Echo Drive in Kyle Canyon. After making it to the North Loop junction saddle, the hikers turned left onto the North Loop and climbed past the Cave Springs horse trough and up through the aspens. The junction for Mummy's Tummy spur trail is found just after the last switchback before the trail evens off for a while. Yes, straight up that slippery stuff on the right. As club members reached the scree field which climbs 500+ feet in elevation, word has it that several of the first timers just stared in tremoring awe.

As far as how many hikers and if everybody got back alive ... the writer has not heard at this point in time. Feel free to comment on the hike below.

Close up view of the North Loop and Tummy climb portions.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bristlecone Loop - 7/18/11

The Bristlecone Loop Trail is located at the end of Highway 156 or Lee Canyon Highway. The Upper trailhead leaves from the heliport near the ski area. The Lower trailhead is found approximately 100 feet down the road from the McWilliams Campground. It is most pleasant to hike the trail in a counter- clockwise direction leaving from the Upper trailhead and walking down the road to the Lower trailhead. This is what twenty hikers in the club did today.

Bristlecone Loop Trail is the only trail in the Spring Mountains accessible to mountain bikes. It offers scenic views of Lee Canyon Ski Area, Mummy Mountain, and serene aspen groves in addition to the many bristlecone trees that line the trail in the higher elevations. As we started up the gravel road from the Lower trailhead, we could see South Sister Peak beyond the trees.

We wound our way around a long switchback and came to the Bonanza Trail junction after 4 easy miles. Here, we found a spot in the shade to rest and eat a snack. The day was warm except when two separate cool breezes tried to blow us off the trail!

After the trail junction, the Bristlecone Trail changes from being an old abandoned gravel road to a woodland foot trail. This is the most scenic section as there are views of a few peaks. The trees are beautiful and the rock is light gray in color. Flowers painted the landscape as well.

As we got down to the stands of aspens, within a half mile of the Upper trailhead, movement to our left caught Marg's attention. Sure enough, up on the hillside within the trees were three mares and a filly. Wild horses, for sure. They quietly and calmly continued eating the grass from the ground while we excitedly snapped our photos and exclaimed at how lucky we felt to get to see them. Although we learned that it isn't that uncommon to see a small herd of horses somewhere near the ski area, it was a first for most of the hikers in the group. "Happy trails to you!"

Friday, July 15, 2011

Raintree via North Loop - 7/15/11

Seventeen hikers from the Around the Bend Friends Hiking Club invaded the North Loop Trail today hiking to the famous 3000 year old bristlecone tree affectionately called "Raintree," seen in the top photo. As the story goes, a hiker named Nick named the tree after a tree in a movie called "Raintree County." He said it looked like the tree in the movie (which was a different type of tree that "rained" blossoms, or seeds, or something in the wind) and the name stuck.

The group began their 1500 foot climb at the North Loop Trailhead on Deer Creek Hwy 158. Due to different hiking speeds, we re-grouped at the Meadow and at the High Point of the hike. Roger, pictured in the second photo, coordinated the group and made sure everyone was always accounted for.

The flowers were blooming along the trail from beginning to end. There were red Indian Paintbrush, yellow Monkey Flowers, blue Lupine, purple sage, and yellow Marigolds. It was very colorful and only added to the gorgeous blue sky, green bristlecone trees, and whitish gray limestone rock.

After the meadow, the hikers spread out even more but it was very nice to be able to hike at your own pace and not feel rushed. It was too beautiful a day to not take your time and enjoy the beauty. The hike topped out at just above 10,000 feet above sea level then made a short half mile descent of around 80 elevation feet to Raintree which was situated at the base of the "toe" of Mummy Mountain.

At the tree, we sat in the sun with our backs to the chilly breeze and had our snack break. Ann told the story about how the tree got its name and we all decided we would get the book "Raintree County" and read the story. Shortly, we were ready to begin our small climb up to the high point and start the descent. Again, we hiked at our own pleasant pace. Some hikers are up-hillers and some hikers are down-hillers!

Conver- sation among this group never stopped ... well, except going up the switchback section. It got pretty quiet on that portion of the hike. However, the rest of the time could not have been more enjoyable.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

North Sister / Black Sister - 7/12/11

Tuesday's hike was a very ambitious hike to the peaks of North Sister and Black Sister, each located to the west of Lee Canyon Highway or Hwy 156. Harlan Stockman was the guest hike leader for this hike as it was the first time the Around the Bend Friends had reached these summits by this particular route. Normally reaching North Sister by way of the South Sister Peak, a very difficult hike in itself, Harlan graciously enjoyed taking a group of fifteen hikers (including himself) up to the peaks from a different trailhead just south of the chain-up area.

The hike began steep and became even steeper. But, it appears that the fifteen hikers were up to the challenge and completed the hike in only 4.25 hours. The complete loop was only 4.25 miles but held a total elevation gain of 2500 feet. The photos were taken by Larry D. and he apologizes for the smudge on some of them. The writer feels this only adds to evidence that the hike took a lot of concentration and ... ahem ... perspiration.

In the photo above, Larry took this photo of a limestone arch with Black Sister in the background. Excellent! In the following photos, you can see how the hike got steeper as they neared the ridge. Mike O'C. was happy to offer his take on the hike in the italicized words below.

Those enchanting queens would be North Sister and Black Sister, two of the four sibling mountains in the Lee Canyon area (North, South, Black and White). Never one to welcome company, North Sister is the pariah of the family. She might just as well be Lonely or Rejected Sister, as not many hikers set foot on her flanks, let alone her summit. But on this pluperfect, 62-degree morning, 15 trekkers would come-a-calling.

The Around the Bend Friends were pleased to welcome guest hiker, Harlan Stockman. Relying on Harlan's vast expertise and jovial demeanor, the arduous Tuesday trek to the Elusive Sister was steep and quick. The final four hundred feet of vertical ascent tested the hikers' resolve. The landscape was not only vertiginous, but somewhat perilous, with the occasional loose boulder cascading down the slope. Rock!

It was here that, we surmise, Mr. Mike got bombarded on the arm by a falling rock set loose by a fellow hiker. Blood every- where! But he's okay ... we're pretty sure! At any rate, the view from the top is ... well, always ... worth it. Mt. Charleston was seen to the south past the South Sister Peak and Lee Canyon Highway was seen to the northeast as it snaked its way behind the closer view of part of North Sister.

Following fluids, chow and first aid on top, the precarious descent lay ahead. Nice and easy does it. At the base of North Sister, it was still mid-morning, so the decision was unanimous--tackle another peak. On to Black Sister.

Black Sister, so called because of its color, is a third peak in the family of four sisters. After making the slippery descent off of North Sister's peak, the 15 hikers traversed the connecting ridge over to Black Sister. The climb up to the peak required this climb as seen below. It seems there was a bit of exposure!

Thirty minutes later, the intrepid bunch clawed their way up the limestone chute to the crest. With not a whole lot of real estate on top, 15 bodies proved to be a tad cozy. The winds were beginning to gust, so the summit stay was brief. Time to descend.

The report from Larry related that the route down from Black Sister was "steep and brushy." The photo below is representative of the few photos taken of this section of the hike. A good nose for direction was likely useful as the group found their way down toward the highway. Soon, they found themselves at the highway chain-up area. A quarter mile left to hike along the road and they were done. Mike and gang bade, "Andiamo." The writer exclaims, "What a hike, guys!"