As we made our way up a canyon yesterday, my friend Michelle kept saying, "I am out of my comfort zone." So was I. On a day to day basis, I try to avoid insects, wild animals, and super-strenuous activity. Conversely, I love adventure, exciting goals, and nature. So once in a while, I gotta get "out there" and try to climb a mountain.
Our goal was Fletcher Peak, at 10,319 feet. It's not the highest spot in the Spring Mountains, but supposedly it offers fantastic views all around. We wouldn't know, though, because we didn't make it to the peak. As I've browsed through a few websites today, I've realized that since we lacked a professional guide, we probably should have taken the North Loop trail rather than Hummingbird Hollow - I'm fairly sure that only crazy people take Hummingbird Hollow. This is evident in the photo below. The happy, cool blue route is the North Loop trail taken by smart hikers. The route we took is shown in red. Red means STOP! Danger! Beware! Only lunatics take this route!
In the Hollow, we were treated to lots of scrambling, stressfully steep inclines, and no other hikers until about the last half-hour of our descent. This made for an exceptional wilderness-y experience. The "route" shouldn't be mistaken for a trail. It was more of what I might call not a trail. How I WISH we had had a trail. It would have made the whole five hours so much happier. As it was, we saw approximately three cairns, all within the first hour of the hike... and then never again. I've never felt closer to Bear Grylls.)
Speaking of smiles, here is a nice shot of Michelle with a smile on her face:
Despite all the wet logs and our increasing realization that we weren't really on a trail, per se, we continued upward!
We rested for a few minutes at this point and enjoyed the little brook we discovered.
It is true, we never made the peak. We hiked for another hour after the brook and the cell phone call (I ended up leaving a voice mail) but there was an entire tree-covered mountainside ahead with no view of a peak and still no sign of a trail. Our strategy was: go up. Which we did, heartily, for a long time. But we became hungry and steadied ourselves on the slope to eat our sandwiches. After lunch, we gave up the peak and started back down.
It's not an exaggeration to say that I spent most of the descent in mild panic. We refused to go down the way we came up - we knew it would be too hard. So we took an alternate leg of the canyon until we knew we had passed the trickiest part. I was disappointed, but I didn't have time to wallow because that's when the booming thunder began. Followed by a rainstorm.
Here is the last nice view before the crazy no-trail canyon:
We didn't reach the peak, but we did get back to our car, which is the next best thing when you've tackled a hike like this one. We'll try again another day.