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Author Topic: High desert backpacking in Washington  (Read 2393 times)

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Mark W

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High desert backpacking in Washington
« on: May 09, 2017, 04:51:58 PM »

I did a two-night backpacking trip this past weekend, mostly along the Yakima Skyline Trail in eastern Washington. Wildflowers were really showing out -- tons of balsamroot and lots of lupine as well. Lots of other wildflowers were blooming as well. It was a great hike for conditioning early in the season and wow . . . the views! Seems like Washington could borrow the "Big Sky Country" slogan from Montana for this landscape.








I started at the Buffalo Road Trailhead and hiked the trail to Roza Creek (with a detour to Gracie Point) and then headed up Roza Creek to the Birdsong campsite (at least I think that's where I was). It was a pleasant campsite and a great place to relax and listen to birds chirp and water flowing in Roza Creek . . . it's amazing how much noise a small creek like that can make when it doesn't have much competition!

The next day I hiked upstream along the old road that parallels Roza Creek, but once the road crossed Roza Creek I decided to choose-my-own-adventure and hike along game trails/faint paths up Roza Creek before hiking up one of the hillsides to the ridgetop. Easy cross-country hiking and really nice to be immersed in the landscape for a while before walking on an old road once I reached the ridgetop.







I reached the ridgetop and the road a bit east of Wenas benchmark and continued eastward to where the road dead-ends and the footpath of the Yakima Skyline Trail begins again. The trail down to Roza Creek was steep in places and was absolutely covered in balsamroot. I took a break at Roza Creek and then continued along the Yakima Skyline Trail back towards the trailhead. I filtered water at a spring along the trail (a piped spring running into an old metal tub that is becoming algae filled and overgrown with vegetation) before heading along to a dry camp. I camped up on the ridge a bit off the trail in a cluster of rocks (visible from the junction with a trail that leads to an alternate parking area), which provided excellent shelter from the wind. I didn't bother setting up my tent, just camped under the stars. Watching impossibly soft light settle along the sagebrush slopes was a great way to end the day. I hiked out early the next day and ran into a few deer on the way out . . . an easy and beautiful end to the trip.







Overall -- WOW -- what a great hike and amazing landscape! This was a cool place to spend some time and really get some conditioning in early in the season. Fair amount of people were out enjoying themselves and I didn't see any snakes. I could not imagine doing this hike in July or August.
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Backcountry Strider

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Re: High desert backpacking in Washington
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2017, 06:35:39 PM »

Beautiful.
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wsp_scott

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Re: High desert backpacking in Washington
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2017, 08:41:45 PM »

Looks like a nice place, I like the wide open views.

I thought you were a snake person :)
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ShifuCareaga

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Re: High desert backpacking in Washington
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2017, 04:15:37 PM »

fantastic. A couple reminded me of the tundra at Colorado's Rocky MTN National Park.
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Mark W

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Re: High desert backpacking in Washington
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2017, 12:18:44 PM »

I do like seeing snakes, although this area is notorious for rattlesnakes and if I had to choose between seeing no snakes and seeing rattlesnakes, I'll choose no snakes every time : )

And it was definitely beautiful, but the arid landscape was a bit of a change and kind of shocking. Beautiful views, but also made me realize just how beautiful and verdant the RRG and Cumberland Plateau are. Would be hard to choose between waking up where I did on this trip and waking up along Chimney Top Creek or on top of Raven Rock!
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