Today it was up Ruckel Ridge then down the Ruckel Creek Trail. This hike might have been a little less painful if I hadn’t done Defiance on Saturday. But it did allow me to put the two in perspective. Although the Ruckel Ridge and Starvation Ridge trails have about the same gain (3700’ or so) over roughly the same distance (about 3 mi), the use trail up Ruckel seems like more work because it’s constant changes don’t allow you to set any kind of a pace. Although the weather forecast was ominous (snow later?), the drive out from Portland and the first 1000’ or so of climbing were under blue and sunny skies.
But soon the clouds started to roll in over Hamilton and Table and the temperature dropped noticeably.
The sun played dodge and weave with the clouds all the way up the ridge. When it was out, I was warm; when it wasn’t, the slight, but chilly wind blowing across the ridge cooled me down right quick.
By now we’re all aware that this has been a low snow year in the Gorge, but it’s still a little unsettling to hike all the way up the ridge, across Ruckel Creek, and down the creek trail, in March, without seeing any evidence whatsoever of snow or ice. Below is Ruckel Creek today; below that is what it looked like in Nov 2009.
The creek also seemed low and there wasn’t much evidence of water along the trail, so any plans for an early hiking or backpacking season may need to be tempered by fewer watering opportunities and a heightened fire danger. I’m sure this kind of a workout made me a better person or – failing that – at least I’ll likely sleep better tonight.
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