The Klickitat State Wildlife Area was one of the Washington public lands that opened up last week. I fashioned a cross-country route here from near the gated Grayback Mountain Road (which goes on to private timberland – though you can hike/bike the road). I didn’t notice any turkey hunters, and a Fish & Wildlife vehicle was patrolling (they left me a warning for not hanging a Discover Pass – I had forgotten it in my glove compartment). A group of botanizers, all arriving in separate cars and socially spaced, wandered off in a different direction. A couple of bikers took to the roads.
I parked under an oak and headed out across a grassy expanse blooming with desert parsley to get views down the Klickitat Canyon. Stinson Flats was just upstream, and Leidl Ridge, my destination, jutted into a big horseshoe bend on the Klckitat, with the Glenwood Highway curling around its base. Out on these grassy breaks, there are death-camas meadows and a few specimens of Hooker’s balsamroot, now past their prime bloom. There were great views of Adams and Hood. Heading north, I passed through one oak wood and contoured in above a couple of deep gullies. After skirting another oak forest, I encountered an abandoned vehicle track.
This track took me down into Sheep Canyon, where the oaks eat barbed wire fences and camas blooms by the trickling creek. The road ascended to Leidl Ridge and merged with another abandoned track that came up from the river. I followed the road down to where it drops below the crest, and then took to the crest, heading out to Leidl Point. It was smooth going, with a couple of deer brush thickets to consider, and I soon popped out on the grassy plateau at the summit of Leidl.
A marmot scuttled off at my arrival, and I paused by an small cromlech no doubt carefully placed by an ancient civilization. At the end of the point, there were great views up Dead Canyon, the old mill down along the Glenwood Highway, and the highway bridge at the horseshoe bend. Mount Adams dominated the northern horizon, but I could also spot the very top of Rainier, and Grayback Mountain stood at the western edge of the Simcoe Hills.
On the return, I followed the vehicle tracks back and then took a slightly different and somewhat higher route across the brassy benches. I passed on old cattle pond and pile of cobbles that may have been cleared from fields at one point. There were a few colonies of Nevius’ onion down in the grass. About nine miles of wandering solitude. No snakes or ticks to report!
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