It's an obvious hike that you can't help but ponder: Follow the top of Red Bluffs, the cliffs left when a big wedge of Greenleaf Peak collapsed. I started from the east, parked at road CG2020, hiked to the start of Red Bluffs, up the edge of the cliff to the apex where it meets Greenleaf's southeast ridge, then down to Greenleaf Falls, across Greenleaf Slide, XC back under Red Bluffs.
Gaining the east end of Red Bluffs was a little tricky. There's a lot of convoluted terrain in there. But finally I reached cliff edge and started up. Although occasionally a bit brushy, it was fun. The cliff edge was actually a ridge, which made it even more enjoyable. Just before the apex where the route meets Greenleaf's southeast ridge, my route steepened, and I traversed around the crux, then scrambled up a horrible steep slope of snow/rock/dirt/moss/whatever, until I came to the cliffs of Greenleaf's southeast ridge. I turned left, back toward Red Bluffs, hoping to find a route between the two cliffs (Red Bluffs and Greenleaf's southeast ridge). Lucked out, pretty easy. Gained the crest of the southeast ridge.
I followed Greenleaf's southeast ridge to a couple neat viewpoints which I've visited before, when bare*. This was the best part of the hike: clear open forest, views, cold (which meant it was dry), slight breeze, light snow falling, sun spilling through cloud breaks. But I didn't linger. Time was tight, and there was no place to sit, so I moved on.
* I meant the viewpoints were bare; I wasn't hiking bare.
Descending the other side of Red Bluffs, towards Greenleaf Basin and Greenleaf Falls, was totally different. The cliff edge isn't a ridge; the forest just slopes into the abyss. Not as interesting or rewarding. It was fun anyway. But then the fresh snow started melting out of the trees. I figured that was going to happen at some point.
When I reached Greenleaf Basin and followed the top of Red Bluffs towards Greenleaf Falls, that's when the misery started. Bushwhacking on and on. There's a parallel road in Greenleaf Basin. That would have been a better route.
Finally I came to Greenleaf Falls, which I followed down to Greenleaf Slide, which I crossed, and then it was XC under Red Bluffs eastbound, until I came upon an unexpected road that fed into the road that took me back to road CG2020 and my car.
Not a recommended hike. The best parts are all accessed more easily on other routes. Tying them all together in one day was rewarding though.
Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
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