Sunday, May 30, 2021

Lee Canyon Narrows & Champion Road Loop (Easy Moderate) - 5/29/21

View down into Lee Canyon Narrows

Pleistocene Spring Deposits with Arch in Lee Canyon

Lee Canyon Narrows from the Bottom

Hiking up Champion Road
Six Around the Bend Friends club members started out from Sawmill Trailhead on Lee Canyon Road for an easy moderate 5 mile hike into Lee Canyon. We crossed Lee Canyon Road to start down Champion Road, a dirt road that accommodates primitive camping sites. The first part of the route follows Champion Road from here up to Deer Creek Road. We passed several campers on the way. Next, we followed the guard rail down Deer Creek Road about 0.1 mile where there is a very vague trail that took us down into Lee Canyon. Next, we followed the wide wash of Lee Canyon back down to the Champion Road crossing. There is a lot of trash in this area. Every year, during one of our hikes here, we pick up loads of trash. 

Trail down into Lee Canyon from Deer Creek Road

The trash is left here by families who bring their kids into the winter mountains to go sledding. Pieces of plastic sleds and food wrappers and drink bottles.

Side Wash in Lee Canyon

The loop that includes Champion Road and upper Lee Canyon wash is about 2.5 to 3 miles. Completing the loop at Champion Road / Lee Canyon wash crossing, you have the option of turning left and going back up to Sawmill Trailhead.

Eroded Rock in Lee Canyon

Hiking through Upper Narrows
With our hardy group today, we continued down the wash and came to a section I call the Upper Lee Canyon Narrows. There are tall rock walls on either side. One wall has a small arch on top of it. But, the wash is still fairly wide here. Next, we came to an old car in the wash. This car has been here a very long time but was flooded with dirt and rocks only a few years ago with a Lee Canyon flood. Not far from this, we came to the top of the Lower Lee Canyon Narrows. Continuing into the rock walls, we were stopped by a 10-12' cliff. In the past, hikers put various logs and such here to try a drop into the bottom. These things were never secure and all attempts of that sort of thing were given up. The best way to get to the bottom is to go up! Up and around, there is a trail to the left. We climbed up and dropped into the narrows below where we took our break and photos. After a leisurely break in the coolness of the slot, we exited and did the big climb back up and around to the top end.

Antique Autos

Now, we stayed on the trail and hiked up through the woods between the wash and the Lee Canyon embankment. 

Hiking into top of Lower Narrows

We passed the old green car (Packard?) and took photos. There are a lot of rusted cans in the area and a huge old tire that probably belonged to a construction vehicle.

Cliffed Out

Connecting with the Up and Around Trail
The trail led up to an overgrown old dirt road that climbs out of the canyon passing more rusted cans. This hill isn't as steep as the "up and around" hill but it is a challenging ending to the hike. At the top, we crossed Lee Canyon Road and connected with Cardamine Road, the dirt road that leads up to the Sawmill Trailhead. We hiked through the equine end of the trailhead passing a skittish horse being attended to by its owner. Then, we completed our hike at the top end of the large picnic area and trailhead. We had overcast skies all morning and it was perfect! Fun morning!

Stats: 4.8 miles; 800' gain; 3 hours

Six with Sticks (B Team) inside Lee Canyon Narrows

Exiting the Narrows

Exiting Lee Canyon

Friday, May 28, 2021

Stanley B / Fletcher Canyon Loop - 5/27/21

Small Slot in Fletcher Canyon

Mummy's Toe from Stanley B Saddle

Top of Fletcher Canyon Narrows

Starting Hike up Kyle Drainage Trail
The Tenacious Trio were at the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead preparing for our loop hike up Stanley B Canyon and down Fletcher Canyon when a familiar car slows down on the road and turns in. It was Bob W.! We invited him to hike with us and since he had previously planned to hike alone, he decided to join us making it the Fantastic Four. When ready, we crossed the drainage bridge and started up canyon on the drainage trail going past the ranger cabins, through the campground and past Rainbow. Here, there is a trail that climbs up the embankment to Kyle Canyon Road where you can cross over to the Stanley B Trailhead. Already a mile into the hike, we stopped to read a sign that had been placed on a rock there. "Cougar in Area!"

Hmm. It should be gone by now, right? (Stanley B TH)

As we were discussing the implications of the sign, another AtBFer, Jackie drove up to say hello. We hemmed and hawed then decided to rely on strength in numbers. ... and a lot of noise!

Stanley B Canyon Wash

We started up with me in the lead. By golly, if I'm going to be first, I'm going to make a lot of noise! So I did ... and, I even irritated myself! But, long story short, we never saw the critter.

Stanley B Trail to Mine

Fork Spring running Well
We hiked up the beautiful wash and turned right onto the old mining road. Next, we turned left onto the shortcut trail, connected back with the mining road and hiked on up to the fork area. We took a little trip to the pipe spring and climbed up to the gated mine entrance. Here's where the hike really starts! The climb up to the saddle from here is interesting and steep. There is a trail up through the wash and it appeared that the trail had recently been maintained. Thinking that I had adjusted to the higher altitudes, I started out strong. Oh, my! This climb has never been easy but, today, the altitude made it worse for me! Nevertheless, we slowly made it up the drainage. I needed several stops to breathe. A left at the small wooded meadow. A right at the rock outcrop.

Large Grate at Mine Entrance

Lastly, a very steep climb to reach the saddle. Mummy's Toe was a beautiful sight! We sat here for our break on large ponderosa tree roots.

Climbing Stanley B Wash

On the other side of the saddle from whence we came, we saw Rainbow Saddle on the ridge between Harris Peak and Griffith Peak.

Navigating Debris

Nearing Final Climb to Saddle
After the break, we began the part of the hike that behooves you to know the route well. Essentially, you drop to the first ravine and go down until you find a very vague trail leading to the left. Then you follow the second ravine down until you almost reach the cliff dry fall. Here, there is another hard to find trail leading to the left again. This trail ends by dropping steeply down to Fletcher Canyon in its upper regions. As you turn to the right, the remaining part of the hike is just fun! Today, there was a lot of water running down the creek at this point. It seemed like more than normal. The first obstacle comes right away. The ponderosa waterfall! An up and around is offered on the left side but it is a tricky maneuver ... especially if you don't have the nerves to down climb and jump.

Dropping down First Ravine

Lately, I've been dropping down over to the left but, even this route, is tricky. Nevertheless, it gets the job done. Then, a short walk up to the waterfall provides a nice photo sometimes. Today, there was too much debris standing in front of the water.

Rotting Tree in Second Ravine

We headed on down the canyon following the trail and noticed that there are several more trees that have fallen over the winter months. We managed to get through or around them. However, it also appears that someone has maintained the trail in some of the more ambivalent places.

Dry Fall at end of Second Ravine

Steep Descent into Fletcher Canyon
There used to be a couple of campsites within the canyon but they have been obliterated. We were happy to see this. We don't want another forest fire in the Spring Mountains any time soon. (Please camp responsibly!) Soon, we came to the small slot where there is a secret passage to the right that goes around the slot. At the other end, we all went into the slot and posed for our group shot. Next, the trail leads on down coming to the end of the running water. The water goes underground as we drop into the top end of the upper narrows. This is a magical place with high walls that are only around 8-10 feet apart. Finally, we reached the rabbit hole at Obstacle Rock. Last year, someone put climbing logs on the drop side opposite to the hole. Fine. But, the logs are a little treacherous and they also block some of the underneath portion of the rabbit hole route. So, even though Mike and I still went through the hole, it took twice as long as it did for Rita and Bob to climb down the slippery logs. Then, three of us reached the bottom of the Obstacle Rock area via the slippery chute. That is definitely a fun thing to do! Next, we started down through the lower narrows.

We found a seat!

One change in this part of the route is that the big tree that blocked the canyon for a few years has been breached! You no longer have to go up and around it to get to the other side.

Small Slot from Above

At this point, we started seeing other hikers in the canyon. First, it was a large group of children. Surely, the mountain lion was long gone!

Fantastic Four in the Small Slot

Running Water
Not much has changed with the lower canyon portion of the trail. But, there has been some odd use trails popping up here and there. Once out of the narrow parts of the canyon, we skipped down the trail passing more and more other hikers. It was nice to have Bob join us today. For me, it was a hard workout but fun, fun, fun! This hike is an oldie but still a goodie!

Stats: 6.2 miles; 1800' gain; 4.5 hours

Passing Through

Upper Canyon Narrows

Exiting Lower Canyon Narrows

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Nuclear Loop - 5/24/21

Mummy's Nose and Forehead from Champion Ridge

Desert View Overlook Walkway

Test Site from Rocky Peak

Starting out the Walkway
It was another cool day in the mountains so the Tenacious Trio chose a hike lower in elevation. This hike, the Nuclear Loop, was first explored for the club in 2015. There have been few changes and the route is in better shape than before. The trailhead is the tourist turnout called Desert View Overlook found on Deer Creek Road (SR 158). The first order of business is to walk down the concrete walkway and read the signs about how people from all over came to this place to watch the first explosion of an atomic bomb in preparation for Hiroshima. (Wouldn't we all want to turn the clocks back for that one?) Regardless, this is the reason I named the hike what I did. There is also information on the signage about the Nuwuvi people and the geography of the area.

Mike and Rita zigzag their way Down

The signs are in somewhat poor condition but they are still readable. And, there is a little graffiti on the walkway, too.

Reaching the Descent Wash

At the end of the walkway, we finished reading and circled around behind the signs to the north. A couple of use trails have popped up but I always try to stay on the left of the ridge and find a good place to drop into the wash below. There is not a lot of hurry to drop.

Old crashed airplane parts in Descent Wash

Removing survey Tape
Once in the wash, the route follows the wash down. There is a trail found on the right side of the wash and I usually change back and forth between the wash and the trail depending on the presence of brush. Today, we noticed that someone has tainted the quiet solitude of this area with those ugly survey tape ribbons. We removed what we saw. Really, it's simple. Just follow the wash down! Until ... you get to the large cliff pour over. We took a peek over the side of the cliff just for thrills then headed up to the left along the cliff. Soon, there is an obvious place where it is easy enough to drop over the rock and down to the wash again. Following the wash and trail, we eventually came to a wide wash confluence filled with trees and brush.

Dry Fall Cliff Area

When you realize that you are in a widened area, it is best to edge over to the left side. Not far down the wash, there is a survey marker painted red. (Today, we decided to call the landmark, "Baton Rouge!")

Descending around Dry Fall Cliff

Baton Rouge is a perfect place to start your ascent straight up to the end point of Champion Ridge. It is a steep climb but doable. There is even an old trail that you might catch on the way up.

Baton Rouge Landmark

Reaching the end of Champion Ridge
This end of Champion Ridge is made up of limestone, dolomite and probably some Pleistocene spring deposits. It is a very rough, sharp rock that requires care and precautions when using it to scramble. ... Especially, when you are too lazy to put your gloves on! So, climb on up to the top of the rock and turn to the left. For about a mile, we followed the ridge toward Mummy's Nose high above. Around halfway up, you begin to see views from the edge of the ridge's cliff. Lee Canyon Road, Macks Canyon Road and the Sisters Ridge are see across Lee Canyon. Champion Road, a primitive camp area, can be seen directly below. The large campsite at the top end of the ridge has been torn apart. It was there for years and now provides too much fire danger.

A little Scrambling Fun

We took our break at the campsite overlook then crossed Deer Creek Road just above the 8000' sign. The old Deer Creek Road has a remaining portion starting here.

Rita scrambles up with a Beautiful View

There is evidence of people camping on the old road in many places. We took the time to destroy the fire rings we found. ... And, picked up the trash.

Following Champion Ridge Up

Mike views from the Ridge Edge
Our route climbed a long gradual slope up the old Deer Creek Road. There are several "wash moguls" that cross the road but I guess campers have figured out how to get around them in vehicles. We passed the old staircase to nowhere. It is falling apart and a few of the risers may have been used for firewood. The history of the mountains are disappearing among the ignorance of the pandemic hordes. Next, we came to the old car. The plastic skeleton still sat in the driver's seat and there is a small sign asking that it not be removed. We took our group photo here. None of us were car buffs so we couldn't guess the make and model but, I might have that information in one of my previous blogs for this hike or the Old Deer Creek Road/Champion Ridge hike.

South and North Sisters from Champion Ridge

The hill was long but we finally arrived at Rocky Peak. Usually, there are campers here but maybe they all went back to work!

Destroyed Campsite

We did the short climb up to the peak where there is an amazing view of Mummy's Nose in one direction and the desert floor's Three Lakes Valley in the other.

Crossing Deer Creek Road

Climbing onto Old Deer Creek Road
A short rest after the long hill and we went back to old Deer Creek Road. At this point the road starts a descent and comes to a larger campsite area where there were no campers. The old dirt road finally junctions with the new Deer Creek Road (paved). We crossed the pavement and entered the Orange Trail Trailhead. A few weeks ago, I noticed on a club hike that the trailhead area was really trashy. So, today, we took the time to collect a lot of it. There is still more there but some of it is disgusting and we didn't have rubber gloves. (And, some of it is so deep inside sticky bushes that it was very difficult to reach.) We left the large bag of trash there so that we could pick it up on our way out in the car. (My guess is that this area could use a pit toilet!)

Tenacious Trio at the Old Car (Skeleton Inside)

Next, we started down the Orange Trail Loop veering to the left of the trailhead. Immediately, we came across a kid's inner tube that was likely used as a sled last winter. Yep. We reached into the brush and managed to get it out. Mike carried it back to the car. See last photo!

Mummy's Nose from Rocky Peak

This part of the route feels like you are losing elevation that you don't want to lose. But, it is a nice trail and woodsy feel and it is the only way to get back to the cars without walking along the road.

Approaching Orange Trail Trailhead

Descending Orange Trail (Wash side)
We'll take a trail over a road any time! So, when we reached the first wash crossing, we started up the hill on the other side. This steep ending to a peaceful hike takes whatever you have left inside and leaves it on the trail. At the top of the hill, we found the Desert View Overlook walkway. Taking a breath, we turned to hike up the concrete passing a few tourists on the way. Good hike. Pleasant. Good company. Watch your illegal campfires out there! And, pick up your trash.

Stats: 5 miles; 1200' gain; 3.75 hours (with trash pick up)

Points of Interest along the Hike

Last Climb back to the Desert View Overlook

Tummy Tube? Part of the trash we picked Up