Friday, September 17, 2021

Raintree via Chateau Ridge - 9/16/21


Cougar Ridge Trail to Mummy Mountain

Old Deer Creek Road across from Trailhead

Climbing Horse Ridge
The Fit Five set off from the Deer Creek Picnic Area parking lot for a fun and challenging hike up to Raintree. The route would be a loop that included Horse Ridge, a ridge that climbs up from the trailhead area to Cougar Ridge Trail above. We crossed the pavement and climbed the embankment to turn right. This old abandoned Deer Creek Road led us up to an intersection of dirt roads where Horse Ridge drops down. We picked a place and started climbing. The ridge is bare enough that a route is easily chosen. There are a couple of horse trails that lead up the ridge. We climbed until we reached a small rocky tor where the views are already outstanding and we took one of our group photos.

Smokey View from Horse Ridge

Mummy's Toe from Horse Ridge

Fit Five on Horse Ridge (Mummy's Nose R)

Climbing last of Horse Ridge
After this, the ridge flattens out for a short distance and begins climbing again. The last part of the climb is the steepest. Be careful to stay either on top of the ridge or to the left. The right side of the ridge is private property. We reached Cougar Ridge Trail and turned to the left. The views of Mummy Mountain from the road's perspective are fantastic. Following the road to the familiar overlook of Mummy's Nose, we found a "new" sign saying No Trespassing. I guess property owners have extended their realm of control. So, we moved on down the road passing a couple of old cabins, one of which looks abandoned and boarded up. Just after the second cabin, we took the fork to the right and hiked up the path to the old sawmill.

The Khaki Brigade on Cougar Ridge Trail

Cougar Ridge Trail and Mummy's Toe

Old Sawmill at Deer Creek

Shaded Deer Creek Trail
Years ago, I remember being very impressed with the history of the sawmill and the workers' quarters down below. Now, the quarters are a dangerous rotting place and the sawmill is unrecognizable with brush grown up around. We continued out the sawmill road and connected with the Deer Creek Trail. It was a very cool morning and the sun had not reached the confines of the trees. Into the cold darkness, we hiked. At the landmark boulder, we started up the steep approach to the top of the ridge. Then, we began our second tough climb of the morning. None of us were in much of a hurry and we tend to climb at the same speed to stay together so we slowly put one foot in front of the other until we reached the junction of the cross trail above. Turning to the right, you will end up on Mummy's Toe ... or Knee ... or, Tummy, if you are really ambitious. Turning to the left, like we did this morning, takes you to Mummy Springs first. The aspens and some of the ground cover are showing some signs of turning yellow. Interesting. We are going from 100+ degree weather in the valley to yellow mountain aspens in a very short amount of time. We are all very ready for that! We passed Mummy Springs without a visit up to the trickle and moved up the trail to Raintree about 1/3 mile away.

Climb up to Deer Creek Ridge Trail

Ralyn ahead on Deer Creek Ridge Trail

Mike passes a Colorful Tree

View from Deer Creek Ridge
At Raintree, we were finally finished with our climbing for the morning. We sat for a break with the entire saddle to ourselves. Careful not to sit on the Raintree roots we found a spot to rest. Sitting on the tree's roots or walking too close to the trunk on the dirt will decrease the tree's ability to live another 2000 to 3000 years. It is an extremely healthy tree right now so I know that a lot of hikers don't realize what damage they can do to its future. As we sat, Jerry placed his hat on his sitting log to dry. Mike was sitting up the hill and suddenly noticed a wooden "sexy" lady resting on the log next to Jerry. We all had to go up the hill to see what he was talking about and there she was! See collage six photos below.

Almost at the Junction

Trail to Mummy Springs

Mummy Springs

Shadow Kaleidoscope 
The main part of our exploratory today started after the break. We hiked back down the trail toward Mummy Springs and took a right onto the Campsite Ridge. Many years ago, three of us had followed Lettie down this ridge and on into Deer Creek Canyon. She called it Mummy Springs Loop East for the blog. It was about time we ventured back down this "trail." We took another group photo at the large campsite, destroyed the large illegal fire ring inside and found the trail that followed the ridge down. Lettie's track continued down the ridge further than we did but, suffice it to say, we followed the beautiful ridge with large rock outcrops steeply down until a decision was made to drop into the wash on the right side. There are intermittent horse trails down the ridge and down the wash.

Breaking at Raintree

Fit Five and Wooden Woman at Raintree

Fit Five at the Campsite Ridge

Tearing up a Fire Ring
 When we last did this section of the hike, the wash was a lot freer of brush and fallen trees. Now, the horse trails have to lead around or through these obstacles. This was fun for us and we were kind of spread out as we made our own way down either in or near the wash. About midway down the wash, we passed a large area of columbines and wondered if there was a spring somewhere among the plants. (See three photos below.) Near the end of the exploratory, a large tree had fallen in the wash and a lot of rotted wood lay in the pathway. Care must be taken in this area. Just after the rotting tree, we came to a trail with a cairn marker. Taking the trail toward the left fork, we soon came to that landmark boulder on the Deer Creek Trail.

View from Campsite Ridge

Descending Deer Creek Canyon

Columbines in Canyon

Trees that have fallen in the wash.
This is the boulder we see when we turn to climb onto Deer Creek Ridge. So, we confidently followed the Deer Creek Trail down to Cougar Ridge Trail where we junctioned just below the resort cabins at the right angle turn with all the signs. We followed the road down to the picnic area turnoff and took a left. Next, we hiked down the paved picnic area "road" and across Deer Creek Road to the parking lot. The Spring Mountains had awoken and we saw several families in the picnic area. It was a fun exploratory and a challenge that will leave us a little sore the next day! (Just mind your manners near private property on Cougar Ridge Trail!)

Stats: 5.1 miles; 1900' gain; 4 hours

Following a Trail

Back on Cougar Ridge Trail

Water in Deer Creek at Picnic Area

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Mom's Eagle Loop (Easy Moderate) - 9/11/21

One of the Anemometers on the Eagle's Nest Plateau

Erbar Road climbing up to Eagle's Nest Plateau

Trail leading down from Visitor Center to Kyle Canyon Wash

Taking the trail down from Visitor Center
Eight Great Hikers started out from the Stepladder Trailhead and crossed Kyle Canyon Road to hike past the Spring Mountain Gateway Visitor Center and drop into the wide canyon behind. At the bottom of the hill, we continued straight instead of taking the usual sharp turn to the left. This put us on part of the old golf cart path that is being overgrown with rabbitbrush. We could see the asphalt beneath our feet as we hiked up canyon. The cart path rolled up and down as we were led beneath the Mt. Charleston Hotel and Resort but we kept a general direction leading up canyon parallel to the Kyle Wash. Just after passing the old pump house at 1 mile into the hike, we dropped down into the wash on the left. 

Hiking Kyle Wash

Kyle Canyon Wash

Landmark Log leading up to Road Crossing and Erbar Road

Climbing Erbar Road
With hiking poles in hand, we began a 0.7 mile hike up the wide wash. This paralleled the Acastus Trail further to the left. The Acastus Trail has much better footing but the rocky footing in the wash increases the quality of the workout. Finding our landmark log as seen in the photo above, we climbed out of the wash on the right side and climbed up to Kyle Canyon Road. Watch for cars that are, many times polite to allow hikers to cross, and cross over to Erbar Road. This dirt/gravel road is gated for cars and used to service the anemometers on the plateau above. Erbar Road begins the long gentle ascent of the hike's route. The road turns to the left and takes a switchback to the right. One more switchback to the left and we arrived on top of the Eagle's Nest plateau.

Erbar Road

Anemometer and Fletcher Canyon Beyond

The Eight Great in front of Harris Peak's Ridge

Inspecting the Second Anemometer
The first of two anemometers is seen immediately with the backdrop of Fletcher Canyon. Across Kyle Canyon, there is a large view of Charleston Peak's south ridge from Harris Peak onward. The steeply rising mountain on the other side of us tops out at Fletcher Peak. At the base of the Fletcher Peak escarpment, you can see a few large caves. Years ago, a few club members tried to climb up to the caves and they reported that it was an extremely difficult endeavor. The scree-filled steep slopes almost refuse to be negotiated. We followed Erbar Road around and passed the second smaller anemometer. Here, we sat in the shade of the trees and took our break. There was nothing to sit on so we sat on the ground. ... Allll the way down on the ground!

Trail Signs at the Eagle's Nest Junction

Trail up to the Upper Eagle's Nest Loop

Aspens Changing among the South Ridge of Charleston Peak

Taking in the View
Rising from our break, we continued up Erbar Road until we ran into the lower part of Eagle's Nest Loop trail. A left turn led us to the junction of Eagle's Nest and the approach from Fletcher Canyon. We chose right here and continued around the Eagle's Nest taking in the high views of Kyle Canyon on the upper section of the loop. Aspens are turning yellow! On the other end of the loop, there are a few small switchbacks taking hikers back down to the lower section. After a few of these turns, we looked for the little known trail leading off to the left that appears to have existed long before Eagle's Nest Loop ever did. Last week, a cougar was spotted in this general area so I am dubbing this trail the "Pussycat Trail!"

Hiking down the Pussycat Trail

Connecting Pussycat Trail and Old Road at Turnout

Hiking down the Old Road between Deer Creek Road and Kyle Canyon Road

Mule Deer says, "I'm outta here!"
The Pussycat Trail took us down to Deer Creek Road. After crossing the pavement, we turned to the right and walked down the shoulder a short way to a turnout. There is an old road that leads from this turnout down to Kyle Canyon Road at Mom's, a little abandoned store. Here, we hiked around Mom's gate and dropped back to the old golf cart path we were on before. A left turn took us back along the base of the hotel and on to the Visitor Center. It was a fun day exploring new routes and pathways. Fun group!

Stats: 4.8 miles; 725' gain; 2.75 hours

Mom's Gate

Old Golf Cart Path below Resort Hotel

Nearing the Trail up to the Visitor Center