Sunday, July 25, 2021

Up the Creek - 7/23/21

Top of Fletcher Canyon / Bottom of Bowl where, typically,
there is running water.

Mummy's Knee rising above Fletcher Wash

Griffith Peak and Cockscomb Peak from North Loop Trail Junction

Hiking up Trail Canyon
The three of us arrived at the Trail Canyon Trailhead with blue hiking shirts on! The color coordination was an accident! Therefore, we were the Blue Belles! It was an early cool morning with rain promising at the 11 o'clock hour. Our hike up Trail Canyon was uneventful except for the fact that we stayed together. This is somewhat unusual nowadays as we usually use Trail Canyon to judge our condition by timing ourselves. Today, it mattered not! We kept a steady pace of around (+ or -) 2 mph. We were the first ones on the mountain  and it was sooo quiet! After a short break at the saddle, we continued across to join the North Loop Trail. In a short distance, we found the small trail that led steeply down to the right into the Upper Fletcher Canyon bowl.

Ralyn and Charleston Peak

Rita and Charleston Peak at Saddle

Steep Descent down the Bowl

Big Boulder Landmark Approach
The trail crosses a couple of low lying ridges and we turned right on the second one even though the trail continues to the next dip. We descended the steep ridge that was covered with pine needles, scree, and low bushes. The route was clear of fallen trees. Soon, we ran across an old trail. This led us the rest of the way down to a very large boulder that lies about 20 yards from the wash below. We call this boulder the "Big Boulder Landmark!" It is useful since it can be seen from some distance away. We took a group photo at the big rock and hiked on down to the wash where there is usually running water. The first photo of this entry was taken here. We turned to the left and began our scramble up the wash.

Blue Belles at Big Boulder Landmark

Starting up Fletcher Wash

Running Water at Beginning of Climb

Last Waterfall
We hiked up by the stream for about 50 feet before we came to the last little waterfall. The water doesn't reappear until later on as it passes (I am assuming) a spring coming down from the right. The wash runs straight down from Mummy's Knee and Toe area and the view from the wash up to the rock cliffs is quite stunning. There is some debris in the wash but it never prevents progress. We stayed in the middle of the wash as much as possible. This required a few climbs with use of hands. We could have gone up and around but why? Fun was there to be had! The climb continued until we stopped and took our break where we had a great view of the wash and Harris Peak rising above in the other direction.

Rita climbing under the Tree

Passing an Ornate Root (Uprooted)

The Cirque du Soleil Balance Act!

Blue Belles taking a Break with a View
Continuing our scramble up, we reached the North Loop Trail crossing and turned to the left. It was a small hike back to the Trail Canyon saddle. Just before starting down Trail Canyon, we saw two healthy deer fleeing the area toward Cave Spring. On our way down the trail, we finally began seeing several other hikers. We think they missed the best part of the beautiful, quiet and fresh morning! A wonderful hike!

Stats: 5.25 miles; 2000' gain; 3.75 hours

Rita enjoying the approach to the North Loop Trail (Harris Peak in distance)

North Loop Trail Junction

Trail Canyon Descent

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Gypsy / Hike-a-Bike Loop (Easy) - 7/24/21

View down Telephone Canyon from Gypsy Bike Trail

Old Juniper Tree at Break Spot

Upper Showgirl Trail

A Bike Jump on the Gypsy Bike Trail
A Nifty Nine showed up for a hike on the bike trails located out of Robbers Roost Trailhead. It was touch 'n' go for a while before the hike since rain came through the mountains only an hour before the hike was to begin. Trusting the forecast that said it would be clear until noon, we made our way up to the Robbers Roost Trailhead on Deer Creek Road. We were not disappointed! It turned out to be a beautiful day that smelled fresh from the new rains. We crossed the pavement like we were heading to Robbers Roost but turned right at the top of the embankment. This is a portion of the Old Deer Creek Road. Now, it turns into what the bikers have named Gypsy Trail. The Gypsy Trail climbs the hill staying parallel to the highway below with wide views of Telephone Canyon and the mountains above. We could see Robbers Roost and Hummingbird Gulch as we hiked up.

Hummingbird Gulch and Fletcher Peak in Distance

At the high point of the hike, we turned to the right and descended to the highway where there is a horseshoe curve. Carefully, the group crossed the road and climbed over the railing on the other side.

Connector Trail to Upper Showgirl

A connector trail leads down from here to the Upper Showgirl Trail. Trees have fallen over the trail here but we made our way over or around.

Connecting with Upper Showgirl

Nifty Nine on Upper Showgirl Trail
Turning right onto Upper Showgirl, we continued straight all the way around to where the trail junctioned with Hike-a-Bike Trail and Trough Trail. We took a shaded break on logs in the area. From here, we continued straight on Hike-a-Bike Trail as it started to descend. This trail parallels along the highway on the opposite side of Gypsy Trail. As the trail finally heads into a junction area, we turned to the right and climbed uphill to the Robbers Roost Trailhead. It was a fun and dry day in the mountains. Happy hiking!

Stats: 3.25 miles; 500' gain; 2.5 hours

Nifty Nine at Break Spot

Hike-a-Bike Trail with Mummy's Toe in Distance

The Hike-a-Bike Bridge that isn't Anymore

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Black & White - 7/17/21

Black Sister

White Sister

Lee Peak from Trailing Ridge

Climbing Elks Club Wash
Two days after Mummy's Toe, we were all feeling a little tired but the weather was right and rain is coming in the next day. So, trying to avoid the Saturday crowds, we headed up to Lee Canyon to climb Black Sister, a very large black rock outcropping that stands at the east end of the Sisters Ridge. Next to the black rock, there is a white rock rise we affectionately call White Sister. Last year, we found a new approach to the ridge that avoided driving out Macks Canyon Road. The trailhead is located on Lee Canyon Road shortly up from the Deer Creek Road junction. A cow grate across the pavement marks the parking area. The Fearsome Foursome parked and headed up the wash that comes in across Lee Canyon Road. Due to a few piles of old evidence, I named this Elks Club Wash.

Connecting with Nutans Road

Mine Ruins

Back in the Elks Club Wash

After Brushy Spot
We climbed the wash until we saw Nutans Road up the bank to the left. Then, we climbed up to the road (narrow single track) and turned to the right to continue climbing until we came to the rock-lined sharp curve to the right. The road continues up to the remains of Ada & Edith's mine where there are still a few remnants lying around. Returning to the sharp curve, we found a trail down and back into the Elks Club Wash. The climb up through the wash zigzags in and out through brushy obstacles but it isn't until the wash takes a curve to the left that the brushy obstacles become a bit of a problem. One option is to climb up to the ridge on the right and continue out the trail to Saddle #1. The other option is to persevere around the brush to where the wash clears out and continue your climb up to the top and Saddle #1.

View from Saddle #1

Approach from Ridge

Mummy's Nose from Saddle #1

Climbing the steep Sister Ridge Approach
While Mike, Ralyn and Rita opted for the ridge, I continued up the wash and reached Saddle #1 a couple of minutes before the rest. We sat in the shade for a minute or two then started up the steep trail that leads to the end of a trailing ridge from Black Sister. Slowly, we climbed, finally reaching the beautiful views (obscured by smokey haze) from the top. Black Sister rose magnificently on the top end of the trailing ridge. Taking our time, we climbed up to the rock where Ralyn and Mike climbed up. Rita and I explored around the opposite side of the rock and took the trail around it to reach White Sister. Ralyn and Mike joined us and we took our break.

South and North Sisters from Trailing Ridge

Climbing trailing Ridge

Ralyn and Mike on Black Sister

Kay, Rita and Ralyn on White Sister
From our perch, we could see almost all the mountain peaks on this side of the Spring Mountains NRA. Lee, Charleston, South Sister, North Sister, Macks, McFarland, Everest, Mummy's Nose and Mummy's Tummy rose around us. A slightly dark cloud floated over us and the sun was unable to scare us off the ridge. But, eventually, we were nudged off the bare ridge just by the dark cloud's presence. We circled around the front side of Black Sister and out the trailing ridge to where we had climbed up. Down, down, down we went following the trail that is sometimes a little unclear. When we got down near the bottom, we veered to the right and headed toward Saddle #2 that sits atop Many Dead Trees Wash.

The Sisters Ridge (Lee Peak - L)

Fearsome Foursome

Steep Descent

Steep Descent (Saddle #1 - L, Saddle #2 - R)
The reason for Rita's name for this wash is obvious. My, my! There are a lot of dead trees in this wash! We dropped down the initial scree and started down a wide gully whose main drainage flowed on the left side. There is a game trail that heads on a traverse to the right but my strategy is to try to stay in the drainage as much as possible. Just like the Elks Club Wash, there are constant brush challenges. It is what I like to call a full body workout! Lots of bending. Lots of short upclimbs and downclimbs. Lots of making sure to not lose the wash. Since this was my fourth time down the wash in a year, I am finally beginning to recognize landmarks as the wash curves around the hill to the left. Finally, a house with a green roof appears up to the left.

Descent from Saddle #2 into Many Dead Trees Wash

Under a Tree

A "New" Dead Tree

Navigating Many Dead Trees Wash
The wash empties out onto Canyons Eye Circle and we quickly crossed it exactly where there is a sign on a big ponderosa saying "Beware of The Dog." This dropped us into a nice pine glade where we picked up some more trash on our way back to the car. Whew! A great workout! Now it can rain! On our way down Lee Canyon, the sky spit at us just a little. I guess that was our 10% chance of rain! Great day!

Stats: 3.5 miles; 1800' gain; 4 hours

Many Dead Trees Wash

Collecting Trash

Crossing location on Canyons Eye Circle