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Rattlesnake Mountain at night
posted by John : January 2, 2009

moosefish photo

Aliens on Rattlesnake

It's been ages since I've hiked with Dan. Back in the day almost every trip was with at Dan's side, but work schedules and kids changed all that. Now it's a rare treat to get out with him.

I had to bail on a trip just before Christmas so we could head to Chelan a day early. We rescheduled for just after New Year's and found that the weather was super crazy in the mountains. Prudence won out so we gave up on epic destinations in favor of a more moderate attempt at Grand Prospect on Rattlesnake Mountain.

Getting to the trailhead was actually a bit of a challenge. I had planned to drive my car, but continued heavy snow made me think twice and I took the truck instead. Outside the gates of the trailhead the road was covered in ice and the snow was firm enough we didn't need to bother with the snowshoes. I began to fear this would be another trip where I carried snowshoes up and down without actually using them.

One of the very first hikes I ever did was a traverse of Rattlesnake Mountain with Dan. At the time I thought the 11 miles was going to kill me. Since then the trail has been rebuilt so it's a lot less about walking on roads. Not that you don't cross the roads more than once. However, each intersection is heavily signed so there was no chance of getting lost.

We were able to boot up for the first few miles, but eventually we tired of postholing and put on snowshoes. No sooner had we put them on then we popped out of the trees onto an old road. GPS showed us half a mile from the top, but the clock showed we were only 15 minutes from 10pm, which was our turnaround time.

Then... the tracks we were following ended. We were at the edge of a main road and it was clear nobody else had been out there in quite a while. No problem, we can break trail for the last little bit. After all, we're almost at the top.

Yeah, right. The problem with roads is they seem to accumulate way more snow than the ground in the trees so each step was quite the effort. And they aren't always exactly direct routes. The road we were on, in fact, seemed to be turning the wrong way. Indeed, we could see the red lights from the tower dimly through the fog, but couldn't quite get there.

So we turned for home. We kept the snowshoes on further to skip the postholing, but still made pretty good time down the hill. The meager views we had on the way up were completely obscured so we wasted little time cruising through the snow and were back at the cars right about midnight with a break only for a bar that tasted as most bars do. (Not good. Blech.)

Total distance was 7.7 miles with 2,150 feet of gain.

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