Some pictures from last Sunday. I had been kind of aimlessly pacing around the house, not entirely bored, but not very purposeful either. I must have been bugging Mary though because she kicked me out. “You need to go hiking.” Ten minutes later I was out the door.
Sunny and gorgeous, unlike this weekend where it’s been drizzly and overcast (not complaining, it’s actually a nice change of pace). I didn’t want to drive too far so I decided to head up into the Tieton River Canyon area (about a thirty minute drive) to explore some of the bolted rock climbing areas. Other than Royal Columns and the Bend (which I did not stop at), I didn’t know exactly where any of the spots were, but I at least had a rough idea.
I went looking for Moon Rocks first. I knew there was a footbridge near Moon Rocks, but when I parked at what I thought was the correct dirt pull-off on Highway 12 I didn’t see anything. I ended up crossing the highway and scampering up the north-side slope to get a better view of the Tieton River. On my last three hikes in this area I had run across five rattlesnakes, so even though it’s not prime snake season, I was picking my steps cautiously as I headed up the dirt and scree. I scrambled up a rock outcropping and immediately saw that I had driven just past the correct parking area. Since Moon Rocks was still sitting in the shade though I decided to keep heading down the road, planning to stop there on my way back.
I jogged back down hill to my car and drove up to the tiny town of Rimrock. I parked on the side of the road and headed upslope hoping to find Rainbow Rocks. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for but figured with a name like Rainbow Rocks that it would be fairly self-evident. I followed what appeared to be a game trail that eventually started to look more human-trampled. Sure enough Rainbow Rocks popped into view (pictured below top right).
I played around at the base of the rock columns wishing I had rope along and someone to climb with, then hiked up the back side (treading lightly on the loose flakes of basalt) and peered down from above.
I hiked back to my car and drove back east toward The Cave. Again I didn’t I know exactly what I was looking for, but this formation turned out to be clearly visible from the road and I was able to park right across the highway from it. There was a group of four climbing as I followed the clearly marked switchbacks up toward them. As much as I liked Rainbow Rocks, this was easily my favorite spot of the day. It looked like it had a variety of routes, deciduous trees for shade and ambiance, and interesting rock.
I pulled myself partway up a few routes then hiked up and around the backside. Squinting into the late afternoon sun, I eventually ended up at what I assumed is The Cave’s namesake. As I stopped to take a picture of the cave I felt something stabbing into my hip and I pulled aside my waist band to reveal a tick half buried into my skin. I thought I remembered that you were supposed to burn those little suckers out with a match (I looked it up later and found out that this was completely wrong), so I grabbed a match from the first aid kit that I usually carry when hiking and held a flame against his backside. He just flailed his little legs and looked like he was trying to burrow in further. And I was cooking myself. Nuts to that. I yanked him out with fingers and spent the next few minutes trying to remember the symptoms of Lyme Disease. It’s not even tick season.
Finally, with my daylight disappearing I headed back toward Moon Rocks, parked in the correct spot, crossed the Tieton on the footbridge, and made the short hike upward. Neat spot. I sat under the towering columns for about twenty minute, snacking on granola bars and drinking the last of my water, then called it a day and headed for home.