Mile: 1653 to 1674.5 (21.5)
up/down: 7250/2550 feet
New trip birds: American Goldfinch and Ruffed Grouse.
No matter how I look at it, today was a tough one. Even with our short day yesterday and some rest, this mountain kicked my butt. Hummingbird was the Energizer Bunny today and pulled me along all day.
We didn't hike out last night like we thought we might, it was just too hot - over 100F at 6pm. With a 5:30 wake up alarm we were on the trail shortly after 6. Brenda gave us a ride from their RV to the trailhead. We had a great time seeing them and so much appreciate all they have done for us. Thank you Dan and Brenda!
Even with the early start it was warm and very humid as we attacked the first major climb from the river at 1300 feet elevation to a ridge at 5600 feet. We made it by about 8:30 with sweat pouring off us. The terrain eased some after that but there was still much climbing to be done. The views were excellent all morning as we moved into the Red Buttes Wilderness. Once on the high ridge at 6000 feet we cruised for a while then dropped back to 5000 at Cook and Green Pass.
Then came the toughest part of the day, a 1200 foot ascent back over 6000 in the exposed hot afternoon sun. While it wasn't near as hot up here as it is down in the river valley, it's still plenty hot and humid for strenuous hiking. After making the ridge we crashed in the deep shade of some fir trees for half an hour. From there it was mostly level to a saddle in the ridge between Black and White Mountains where we're dry camping tonight. We'll be in Oregon tomorrow afternoon!
I'm pretty sure this is serpentine. It was pretty!
The bird of the day was a pair of Ruffed Grouse we watched spooked out of their feeding area and up into a dead tree by a Kestrel. They stood there in the wide open for us to get great looks. A state bird for us both.
I got another "life tree" today in the first ridge we climbed - the Knobcone Pine. They are small pines that like dry exposed slopes. They also require fire to open the cones for seed germination. The area was burned several times in the last 20 years and had many young trees and a few old ones. Very cool. We also ran into a couple volunteers for the Forest Service doing seed bank collection of rare conifers like Brewer's Spruce and Pacific Silver Fir. It was fun talking to them and we learned a lot.