Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Trough Trail Lower Loop - 9/29/20

Wildlife Water Trough

Telephone Canyon

Upper Showgirl Ridge

Tin Can Alley Trail
Five of our AtBF pod plus one visitor from out-of-town, Lori, decided to take advantage of the slightly cooler temperatures. We began our hike from Deer Creek Road and hiked a few trails in the Telephone Canyon area for a loop that included the water troughs on the Trough Trail. We began at the 5th paved turnout on Deer Creek Road from the intersection of Kyle Canyon Road. In retrospect, the 6th turnout would have been better but, for this group, it mattered not. We dropped down a steep path to the Cowboy Washington Trail, turned left, then dropped again down another path to the Tin Can Alley Trail just below and turned to the right. We were on our way down to the crossing of Telephone Canyon Road 1.3 miles into the hike.

Starting down Tin Can Alley

From here, Tin Can Alley continues down alongside the dirt road but we went straight to cross the road and join the Lower Showgirl Trail. The scenic trail traverses the contour of the ridge above then begins descending around the corner.

Tin Can Alley Trail
Reaching a ridge peak that trails down from above, we found the cross trail we were looking for. A left turn started us on a very steep bike trail I call The Dive ... only, this time, we were climbing instead of diving!

Lower Showgirl Trail

Hiking along Lower Showgirl
As we climbed the difficult trail, we couldn't help but be impressed by any biker that took on this route. We huffed and puffed until we reached the top where a more decent trail turned to the left. The trail circled around to begin a long switchback-type route up to the top of the ridge. The switchbacking took a natural route along the small peaks of the main ridge. This took us over a little peak I call Little Bald Knoll. Next, the trail traversed over to a wash. At the creation of this trail, a route on the other side of the wash was abandoned due to an unruly hillside switchback. Most hikers and bikers use the wash to go from this point up (or down) to the trail crossings. This is a shady spot where we took our break.

View across Telephone Canyon to Fletcher Peak Ridge

As we sat for our break, we noticed that there is a "roundabout" around a small tree at the point of the switchback. Possibly, those bikers who do not wish to do "The Dive" turn around here.

Stepladder Peak

It is also very clear that from this point on up to the top of the ridge has been recently "improved" for bikers. The old worn rock path has been raked clean. Higher tree limbs have been sawed off and a couple of bike jumps were made out of fallen trees across the trail. Since this trail is not in the NRA boundaries, I am thinking that work on trails does not have to go through the channels for permission. But, it was a little sad to see the historic feel of the worn rock trail gone.

Starting the Climb up The Dive

Finishing the Climb up to Upper Showgirl
So, after break, we climbed up the next long switchback that led us around the end of the next ridge and back. Then it turned back and led up to the top of the ridge. The trail gently climbs all this way with nice views on either side of us to Angel Peak, Fletcher Peak and Mummy's Toe. After a short dip and turn through a wash, we made our way over to a bare saddle. The main Upper Showgirl Trail continues in a 2:00 direction but we turned in an 11:00 direction to take an old crossover trail to the Trough Trail. A left turn on the Trough Trail sent us diving down to the old wildlife troughs. A busy beehive stills buzzes in the water pipe three feet from the trough. Be careful here. The bees were a little agitated with us but did not attack. We took our photos and moved on.

Trail through the Little Bald Knoll Area

There is a newer trail that zigzags down the hill while crossing the trough wash a couple of times but we decided to take the old Trough Trail straight down the wash. We ended up at Telephone Canyon Road where the old car hood landmark resides.

View from Upper Showgirl to Kyle Canyon

This is also a campsite that is still used at times. There was a lot of trash around. We chose not to pick up the trash this time since we would have to carry the trash up another 200' and 1 mile to the cars.

Mike prepares for Second Half of Hike

Angel Peak comes into View
We crossed Telephone Canyon Road and took a small short path to the left to connect with Tin Can Alley. A right turn sent us up the hillside for our last climb. After the climbing we had already experienced, the gentle climb was almost a cool down! Until ... we got to the very last short climb to the turnout. This is why it would be better to begin at the sixth turnout instead of the fifth! My bad. Keep in mind that the trails in this area are all bike trails. Eyes open for kamikaze bikers! A few of the bikers are getting smart and adding noise makers on their bikes to warn hikers that they are coming. It was a good workout hike with new views. The summer is winding down. We need more days that are not so hot!!

Stats: 6.6 miles; 1700' gain; 4 hours

Shade Break on Upper Showgirl

Sharing the Water Troughs with a Busy Bee Hive

Climbing back up Tin Can Alley

Friday, September 25, 2020

Horse Peak Exploratory Loop #3 - 9/24/20

Horse Peak (R), Sisters Ridge (L) & McFarland Peak (C)

Onyx Peak from Horse Peak

Horse Canyon from Horse Peak

Horse Spring & Climb to Ridge
Four club hikers drove up to the Sawmill Trailhead to start a third in a series of explorations using Horse Peak as the destination in a loop route. Getting up to the peak has become fairly straightforward, however, today, we found Horse Spring next to the road in the upper reaches of Horse Canyon. Walked right by it two times before! Also, today, we noticed a network of horse trails on the hillside next to the canyon bottom. (That's how we found the spring!) Once we reached the saddle above, we started taking in the great views of Mummy Mountain, Lee Peak, Lee Canyon and, eventually, the Sisters Ridge as we walked around the game trail on the ridge. From Horse Peak, we saw Black Sister, Macks Peak and McFarland Peak as we sat for a small break.

Ridge Views

Here's where today's exploratory began. Our goal was to continue following the ridge around and down next to Horse Canyon. There is a small black rocky peak on this ridge that we wondered about climbing.

Desert Floor View
Since Black Sister (which is sometimes now called Black Rock) is in the vicinity, I decided to name the new black rocky peak, Onyx Peak. This gives it a sense of mystery, don't you think?

Climbing along Ridge - Horse Peak in near Distance

Approaching Onyx Peak
Getting over to Onyx required a dip and a couple of climbs. Then we scrambled easily over the black rocks. Careful here because the stones are all loose! After this, each small peak became steeper and steeper to descend on the other side. Finally, we deviated from the plan a little and started a descent on an intermediate ridge to the left. It was easier to continue the descent here and, eventually, we dropped into the right side gulley. The gulley turned into an old road and we happily dropped down to Macks Canyon Road. A right turn led us back toward the cars but, on the way, we cleaned up a particularly trashed campsite that we had noticed on the way in. Three heavy bags later, we returned to Sawmill to deposit the trash bags. We felt very dirty by then as some of the trash was horridly disgusting. (Really folks. If you don't know how to clean up your campsite when you leave, you should not be camping. Nuff said. The location of the campsite was at the junction of Macks Canyon Rd and Horse Canyon Rd. You know who you are!) Otherwise, it was a fulfilling day and a good workout. Views were great and the wind kept the wildfire smoke at bay. Tune in later for nailing down the perfect Horse Peak Loop. We're almost there!

Stats: 5.5 miles; 1650' gain; 4.25 hours (including campsite cleaning)

Down the Ridge

Fun Dead Tree on Intermediate Ridge

Trash from One Campsite - Three Bags Full


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Fletcher Peak (Autumn View)

September View from Fletcher Peak

Ralyn & Mummy's Toe
Four of our Around the Bend Friends pod hikers climbed Fletcher Peak on a beautiful day. The view of the changing aspens from the peak was outstanding! The largest aspen grove is seen here on the North Loop Ridge. Other stands were seen at Cathedral Rock, South Loop, Rainbow Canyon, and at the base of Harris Peak. Later, we saw bright yellow around the Mummy Springs area. Fall is coming!

Starting Down

Aspens & Trees

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Mummy's Nose (Photo Essay) - 9/17/20

Mummy's Nose on Approach

The Sisters Range and the Spring Mountain Divide from the Nose

Sunrise on Mummy Mountain

The Line-Up
What a beautiful way to start winding up the summer in the mountains! Mummy Mountain is actually a large ridge that is otherwise known as Cockscomb Ridge. Hikers call the lower end of the ridge Cockscomb Ridge but have other names for the higher peaks that make up the vision of the Mummy which is best viewed from the lower end of Lee Canyon Road (4000' elevation). The view in the photo above is from the 6000'-7000' level making the Nose a very prominent looking peak. All six hikers in our AtBF pod were present and accounted for at the Chain-Up Pullout Trailhead on Lee Canyon Road. This is at MM 2 and around 8000' elevation. There was a bit of excitement in the air since this would be Ralyn's first ascent, Kay's second, Rita's third since her infamous fall down the said mountain, Mike's annual climb and Jerry & Cheryl's third climb this summer. We were promised a slow steady pace. And, it was happily and patiently delivered!

Heading up the Gulley starting the Cairned Trail Up

The Cairned Trail

Nearing the Ridge Trail above the Wash

The Ridge Trail above Wash
We walked up Lee Canyon Road a short distance and turned left into the first residential road with a gate. This is a commonly used route and hiking through this section of property is tolerated by the residents who live still some distance away. At the first large gulley that leaves the dirt road up to the left, we began our cairned trail. The trail climbs up the gulley onto a gentle slope, across another dirt road then upward along a wide gravel wash. It's good that the trail is cairned very well since the path is not always clear in the gravel. I was very interested in following the cairned route so we all followed Jerry except Mike. He took the route that was used for years before the new trail appeared. It wasn't long before the two routes met up not far before the ridge trail above the deepening wash. The path was very clear when we got to the ridge lying to the right of the deep wash that comes down from the Mummy's Nose Saddle. We stopped for a moment just before the trail dipped down into the wash. 

Climbing the Wash

Still climbing the Wash

Climbing the Trails

Steep Trails
We stashed one of our water bottles at this junction and dove into the wash. The scramble began innocently albeit steeply. Soon, though, the steepness turned into a more difficult scramble. Note of importance: take the left fork of the main wash when presented! There are a few washes that flow steeply down into a bowl from the Mummy's head area. On the way up, we took another left into a smaller wash then started a climb on all fours on dirt to the right. This was not pleasant but it put us up into the trees and deeper dirt of the bristlecones hanging off the side of the mountain. There are 2 or 3 paths that you can follow among the trees and cliff bands but one certain trail is cairned and more worn. This is your best bet to the left of the saddle wash.

View above the Wash

J&C showing the beginning of Forehead Climb

Almost to Saddle

Other side of Saddle
We followed Mike up among the fantastic old trees within sight of the rock wall that begins looming next to the wash to our right. There were some challenging scrambles but the most difficult places were the short steep slippery sections. We split up on chosen routes but always ended up at the same place. Nearing the saddle, Jerry and Cheryl climbed the wash and checked out the junction where they would someday soon begin their climb up to the Forehead and Chin. (See pic two photos up.) After a beautiful climb up through the trees and rocks, we crested at the saddle. Just as we did, the wind whipped up a few gusts! Maybe it was just a welcoming party because as soon as we finished our rest, the winded quietted again. We turned to our left to start the peak ascent.

Starting up the Peak Ascent

Tackling the 3rd Class Climb

Panorama of Mummy Mountain from Nose

Mike feeling Comfortable on the Nose
The crux of the hike was next! We followed a well-worn trail up to a crack in the side of the mountain peak. Cheryl dubbed this the Nose's Nostril! The crack presents a third class climb that is rather simple until right before the route climbs out of the crack and onto a shelf traverse. Over the years, the last step-up has been "softened" on the left side leaving very little in the way of toe holds. I was having some difficulty ... and getting plenty of advice from different directions ... until Jerry climbed up from behind and offered a step on his knee. Perfect! No problem! Up I went and everyone behind me came, too. Turning right onto the ledge shelf, we had plenty to hold onto to get around to the end of the ridge.

Amazing Views

Various Scenes on Nose Peak Climb

Passing a Gorgeous Old Tree

Rita and Ralyn sidling around a Corner
The flat area on the end of the ridge is where the views hit me! They blew me away! Already, there was a 300 degree view of surrounding mountains; the closest being the remaining parts of Mummy Mountain ... or, Cockscomb Ridge. The last 60 degrees of view required the final climb up the ridge to the peak. We turned around and began a trail and class 2.5 scrambles up the spine weaving right and left with steep cliffs appearing as we went. Cairns marked the way. The weather-worn bristlecone trees were really something to behold! They were gorgeous in their own right. I saw a few seabed fossils as well. All the peaks in the Spring Mountains provide a protected habitat for fossils from the Permian Era that ended 250MYA.

Following the Trail along the Peak Ridge

A Window with a View

Scrambling - Almost There!

By the way ...
As we climbed the ridge to the peak, we had extraordinary views of the Spring Mountain Divide (McFarland Peak, Bonanza Peak and Willow Peak) with the Sisters Range of peaks lying in front of it. The steep slope of the Nose accentuated the distance to these other peaks. At last, we surmounted the Mummy's Nose Peak (10,748')! Smiling faces all around! This was not just another day in the park for this group. As you can see in the photo below, the peak does not have a lot of real estate but we still struggled to maintain social distancing! Lol! We signed the log book and Jerry searched through it to read some of the logs from years ago. We found the page from 2012's hike that included Lettie and Kay ... and one of Tim Borem's first hikes!

All Six on Top!

Scenes from the Peak

Pics from Jerry & Cheryl's Perspective

Starting the long Descent
We must have impressed Tim, even though on that hike ... and that hike alone ... he was back in the back with Lettie and I! Lol! Look at him now!

We took in the views and breathed in the thin air! Then, we started down. It had taken almost 3.5 hours to go up. It would take 2.5 hours to go down. I admit, a lot of that time was me taking photos! But, hey, I couldn't help it! Carefully, we dropped down off the peak to the saddle. Next, I took the lead down the cairned trail that presented itself right away. Cairn to cairn to cairn. Then, we got into the wash at the first opportunity from the trail. The scramble down was fun; especially one section where the rock was super smooth. We slid down it ... carefully!

Rita revisits the infamous Rita's Ridge

At the Bottom of 3rd Class Drop

Following Cairns Down Steep Trails

Fun Wash Descent
Our route deviated from the wash only once before we climbed out onto the ridge trail. Next, we followed cairns all the way down to the first dirt road crossing. Just for fun, we turned left on the dirt road and descended it for most of the way back to the gate. After six hours, we rode up the road to the Old Mill Picnic Area where we had a small picnic and birthday celebration. Happy Birthday, Rita!! Just a reminder: those of us that hold Senior Passes for National Parks, can use this picnic area for free! Just fill out the envelope ... but, bring your own pen! What a great day!!

Stats: 4.3 miles; 2550' gain; 6 hours

Ridge Trail Descent

Cairned Trail Descent

Picnic honoring Rita's Birthday