Monday, September 8, 2008

Ruckle Creek + Saddle Mtn.

Ruckle is a lovely hike. I mean that in all of the best possible ways.

For starters, it parallels 84 for a good long while. I love that.

Then it turns into a pretty brutal uphill along the next ridge east of Ruckle Ridge.
I'm too tired to review the elevation on this one, since it ended being an up-and back. Loni and I hit snow, which made the poorly flagged trail difficult to follow from our direction. It was marked headed the other direction, but relatively infrequently... For significant portions of the climb, I thought it actually WAS Ruckle Ridge, since we were looking down on it at that point. Later, I saw Ruckle Ridge roll right on past my elevation on my right and realized how steep it actually was! The first weekend we get that is dry to 5000 feet I would like to check out Benson plateau. Maybe get the chance to take the traditional route, which is Ruckle Ridge up, and back via Ruckle Creek... Also, there is a Eagle Creek loop to that trail, so a total of 6 possible fairly hard-core loops with awesome views.

Cautions: Ruckle Ridge may have hugely exposed spine section referred to as the "catwalk". May also have section of giant boulder/slab climbing - relatively exposed and would probably best be explained by thing of Rock Of Ages crossed with Munra Point. Assuming you had done both loops, since it's sort of hard to describe otherwise. God, I make so many assumptions when writing! I end up just wanting to break my fingers to keep them away from the keyboard. There would be far less damage done, really. The violence of the keys on this blank keyboard, I can't even express. Yes, half of those keystrokes are of the backspace key, don't sweat it.

Anyway, Loni and I turned around. I hate f'ing turning around, but sometimes it's the only thing you can do. We also had to turn around on a recent up-and back: Saddle Mountain. Pros: Easy and very beautiful in the snow. Stayed dry in waterproof gear. Cons: Rough road (Air Hyundai), the chickenwire trail, it was snowing and the upper 1/2 mile was fairly deep snow, then snow pellets driven by high winds began pelting our faces. Limited visibility combined with the wind covering the trail behind us led Loni and I to beat a retreat at the bottom of the last climb to the summit. The whole trail is short and it really wasn't a good idea to be up there in those conditions. I stupidly brought a completely stripped hydration pack, since the trail was so short, so I had no additional coverage for those conditions.

Note to self: Goggles + baklava + gaiters + boot chains or snowshoes solve the stupid snow problem and make it fun instead of dangerous. A bivy and food would make it almost easy on such a short stretch, but I didn't even think to consider anything worse than rain. Rain gear from Costco rocks, but I was actually too warm for most of the climb. I never got the "body condom" effect, but I opened my zips early and ended up opening the jacket front for extended periods. I'll buy an REI jacket eventually, but hopefully I'll be too fit to need it at that point. Keep your fingers crossed that some sales happen or something. Maybe spring will have the good red one on sale!

A poem and analysis plus generalized trip report for Ruckle Ridge:

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