Sun 2 Nov 08

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.

5 thoughts on “Sun 2 Nov 08

  1. jordan

    Nice shots. I was in Michigan last week to see autumn. Looks like Washington could have worked too.

  2. Josh Post author

    Had enough of your 80 degrees and sunny every day weather, huh?

    I just checked out your Flickr pictures. I especially liked the Lake Michigan shots, but they were all good. Did you drive all the way up from CA? What were you doing in Ann Arbor?

  3. JOZ

    Beautiful rock formations. I love the way one thing leads to another on your hiking days and you find such beautiful spots. (I’d been wondering how Mary felt about you taking off and hiking every weekend, but she seems to know you well and know what you need.)

  4. jordan

    Nope, didn’t drive it. I flew from Palm Springs to Detroit, hence the convenient Ann Arbor visit. All I did was wander around and pretend/wish I was in school again.

  5. Josh Post author

    Yeah, I find that hiking without over-planning seems to usually work out. Just a good feel for your landmarks so you don’t get too lost and a rough destination in mind.

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