Ruckel Ridge 29-Nov-09

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
Post Reply
User avatar
VanMarmot
Posts: 1923
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Ruckel Ridge 29-Nov-09

Post by VanMarmot » November 30th, 2009, 7:40 pm

On Sunday, I hiked up Ruckel Ridge to the Benson Plateau seeking the low altitude snow that had eluded me on Hamilton and Table earlier in the week. It was another of those near perfect days for a hike – mostly sunny, cool, crisp, and with only a hint of wind. As I started the climb up the ridge proper, I looked back toward Bonneville and was struck by how glass-smooth the Columbia was – not a hint of wind.

Image

I was also able to look across the river toward Table, which had even less snow on it than when I hiked it last Wednesday. There may be good snow above 4000’ but below that it’s going (or gone) fast.

Image

A little higher on the ridge and there was a brief view of Adams far in the distance.

Image

The Ruckel Ridge use trail climbs about 3700’ in 4.8 miles – which gives it a bit of a reputation for steepness and exposure. But the steep sections are interspersed with interesting rock formations

Image

and flatter stretches that almost seem manicured – set pieces in a natural Zen garden

Image Image

The most famous feature along the ridge is the “Cat Walk” – a narrow step across with a sharp drop on one side and an even sharper one on the other. There used to be a small tree on one side and a handy tree limb on the other for handholds – but these have now broken off, making the crossing a pure rock experience.

Image

However, a use trail now by-passes the Cat Walk along its lower west side – so the hike can be done without any 3rd class moves.

The trail doesn’t offer many unobstructed view points but at about the 3000’ level there’s a rock outcropping that provides a view across to Tanner Butte. It also makes a nice sunlit place for lunch.

Image

After that, it’s back in the woods for the final climb to the Benson Plateau. On the plateau, I found maybe 12-18” of crusty packed snow around Ruckel Creek but it didn’t extend very far down. The Ruckel Creek trail was completely snow free all the way onto the plateau.

Image

I hiked back down the Ruckel Creek trail, through meadows that were actually quite warm in the late afternoon sun. Those of us who want a snow or snowshoe opportunity closer to Portland than Mt. Hood are probably just going to have to wait until winter gets serious and shares its bounty with the lower altitudes.

User avatar
chameleon
Posts: 1795
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Oregon
Contact:

Re: Ruckel Ridge 29-Nov-09

Post by chameleon » November 30th, 2009, 7:51 pm

Thankyou for this report VanMarmot. I've just had about the worst day at work I've had in a couple years, but you're report just raised my spirits. I love Ruckel (ridge and creek) and this is perhaps the best TR I've seen for the ridge. Thanks again for this great "escape." I'm going to have one of my own tomorrow (wierd days off at the moment) - considering a solo ascent/descent of Munra/Moffett... but I'll have to see how early I can wake myself up!
-Zach

[email protected]
Posts: 250
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Ruckel Ridge 29-Nov-09

Post by [email protected] » November 30th, 2009, 9:01 pm

Very nice report (and lovely pictures). Ruckle Ridge is one of my favorites no doubt.
Sunday I was up in Herman Creek going up Nick Eaton to 4,000 ft and then down the Casey Creek trail. I too was amazed at how little snow there was - almost none anywhere. Great day however and more to come from the weather report. However, it does seem strange that people are snowboarding at 6,000ft about three miles from where I was at 4,000ft in sunshine and no snow. Go figure!

User avatar
Eric Peterson
Posts: 4070
Joined: May 11th, 2009, 5:39 am
Location: Oregon
Contact:

Re: Ruckel Ridge 29-Nov-09

Post by Eric Peterson » November 30th, 2009, 10:32 pm

I love Ruckel Ridge, it's so flippn' hard for me to do. Figured it would be way
to slippery and mushy this late in the year, but I guess it has been
dry the past few days...

User avatar
VanMarmot
Posts: 1923
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Ruckel Ridge 29-Nov-09

Post by VanMarmot » December 1st, 2009, 6:42 am

Zerek wrote:I love Ruckel Ridge, it's so flippn' hard for me to do. Figured it would be way
to slippery and mushy this late in the year, but I guess it has been
dry the past few days...
The ridge trail was almost completely dry - even the parts in the trees low on the ridge. The only wet/mushy spots (and these were few) were on the Ruckel Creek trail between the plateau and the first meadow. All the water seems to have soaked in or runoff.

User avatar
VanMarmot
Posts: 1923
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Ruckel Ridge 29-Nov-09

Post by VanMarmot » December 1st, 2009, 6:47 am

chameleon wrote:Thankyou for this report VanMarmot. I've just had about the worst day at work I've had in a couple years, but you're report just raised my spirits. I love Ruckel (ridge and creek) and this is perhaps the best TR I've seen for the ridge. Thanks again for this great "escape." I'm going to have one of my own tomorrow (wierd days off at the moment) - considering a solo ascent/descent of Munra/Moffett... but I'll have to see how early I can wake myself up!
-Zach
Thanks. It's been wierd days at work for me too lately. I guess we're just lucky to live in a place where sanity-restoring hikes are so accessible.

User avatar
Splintercat
Posts: 8155
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland
Contact:

Re: Ruckel Ridge 29-Nov-09

Post by Splintercat » December 1st, 2009, 7:47 pm

Thanks - great report! My main memory of this trail involves a disastrous death-march family backpack that my dad organized in the mid-70s that involved using Ruckel Ridge as a "short-cut" back to the Eagle Creek trailhead... we've never let him live that episode down, since it nearly killed my mom..!

:D

User avatar
grmaculsay
Posts: 15
Joined: September 3rd, 2009, 9:18 am
Contact:

Re: Ruckel Ridge 29-Nov-09

Post by grmaculsay » December 2nd, 2009, 7:53 am

Ruckel rules! I loved it so much, I did it three times in a week last summer. I'm going to try and get one in during this beautiful weather, despite the lack of snow on Benson. Thanks for the great report!

Post Reply