Rampart Ridge is one of my favorite hikes. Not just a favorite close-to-home hike or a favorite I-90 hike, but one of my favorite hikes. It's up there with Big Snow Mountain, Summerland, and Headlight Basin.
It's just a bonus that it's close and easy to get to. And rarely crowded. BONUS!
Treen and I got there a few minutes early, but getting her ready to roll with her Swamp Cooler coat and me with all my junk (but not my actual camera, which was safe at home) gave more of TNAB a chance to show up. I started up with Eric, Scott, and KC.
Just before the Laura Lake intersection Eric broke away from us and raced up the hill. Typical Eric. He stepped over a pile of sticks in the middle of the trail. Who would put a pile of sticks in the middle of the trail. He looked at a hole in the middle of the trail. Strange place for a hole. He watched the swarm of wasps attack him. Typical wasps.
In the end, he was bitten multiple times on his legs. Turns out some of the earlier hikers had found the nest, too, but only a dog was bitten. The dog spent much of the rest of the hike woozy from benedryl. Eric wasn't as lucky. He had a... robust reaction. Think cankle and you're going the right way. Of course, that didn't happen until much later that night.
The rest of us bypassed the nest and continued up to the lake. Even with the wasp delay we were there in only 30 minutes. On the ridge above the gully we ran into more of our group and hustled through the meadows that make this trip so wonderful. Treen kept cool in her coat, though it was less effective in the humid heat than in the dry heat of Echo Basin. I didn't purloin the coat so I was hot. (Ruffwear seriously needs to make a human version of the Swamp Cooler.)
On the summit the sun sank in the sky lighting everything up with oranges and pinks. I had hoped to take some great photos, but alas, my camera, as I mentioned, was at home. Instead, I had only my iPhone. It takes good pictures, but not in the same league as a real camera.
As darkness fell we beat a hasty retreat off the summit rocks and cruised back to the cars. Eric led again, of course, but we caught him at the lake where he was swimming. Well, more floating than swimming, but enjoying the cool water. I put my feet in and realized it was far too cold for me.
The TNAB season is drawing to a close with only a few more trips. It's unlikely I'll make many more. (Since Clara's ballet has moved to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday it's not drives into Bellevue that are conflicting. Now it's Tae Kwon Do for Mr. HOS that eats my time on Thursday nights.)
What I'm taking away from my poorest TNAB season record in the last seven years* is that I'm having far more fun on the trips I do go on and they seem more like treats than chores. The only downside is that I have to go to the gym more frequently so I can keep up when I do get out. Oh, the price we pay.
* Yes, it's really been seven years since that first trip up Bandera in 2006.