Monday, January 26, 2015

Umtanum loop with Ben and Ethan

Oh, how naive we were, thinking the east side would be wonderfully dry and perfect running terrain! We planned for some cross-country travel and light bushwhacking, but did not expect unrunnable mud for close to 10 miles of our day...

None of us had been out on Yakima-area trails, it seemed like a fun option. Ben put together an adventurous outing doing the first two climbs (~11 miles) of the Skyline Rim 50k course, and then utilizing "dirt" roads, steppe-shrub wandering, canyon-bottom shwhacking and a few miles of trail to create a nice 27-mile loop.

It was a good sign that Ethan, Ben and I were able to laugh and smile about it all day. We had great views north to the Stuart Range, west/south to Rainier, Adams and Hood, saw a lot of deer and two bighorn sheep, went up and down through the inversion fog and escaped the day largely unscathed.

Ben and Ethan, starting out under the inversion fog
Ethan, coming up the first climb to Umtanum Ridge
The Stuart Range; Alpine Lakes peaks further west (Chikamin, Lemah, Summit Chief, Bear's Breast?)
Shoe-deadening, slip-and-slide mud
Descending Umtanum Ridge to Roza Creek, second climb in the upper-left 
Aforementioned second climb...

Inversion fog seeping over a low ridge
Top of the second climb, heading west down the ridge with Rainier
Little bit of cross country
Our route from the top of the second climb (center-left) followed the ridge down, then one mile of cross country to hit         Old Durr Road; taken from near the top of western Umtanum Ridge
Our trail-less descent into upper Umtanum Creek canyon
I think we forded the creek eight times in the upper section before reaching the real trail
A few prickly items, but not bad for the two miles to reach the trail
Columnar-basalt in upper Umtanum Creek canyon

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