Saturday, July 14, 2007

morning hike at Kamiak Butte

Pine Ridge Trail 9 of 12One of the best things about being an early riser is that you can easily do fun things while avoiding the hottest part of the day. This morning, for instance, I was the first person at Kamiak Butte County Park when the ranger opened the gate at 7am.

I knew it would be a good hike when three deer turned to look at me as I drove into the park. They were big deer, too: mule deer. I thought they might be mule deer since they sure looked like the ones we saw in Yosemite (and, of course, they had big ears) in March, but these were brown. The interwebs later told me that mule deer are tan/brown in summer and grey in the winter/spring. I also narrowly avoided running over what I believe was a pheasant sitting by the road having a meal.

The Pine Ridge Trail is a 3.5 mile loop trail with approximately 1300 feet of elevation gain over the first 1.5 miles. You first head up a lovely trail to the top of the butte. Along the way, you can see grasslands below you, getting smaller and smaller as you head on up to the top.

Once at the top you have a great view of Steptoe Butte in the distance, and even Pullman if you squint—Pullman is approximately 11 miles away and today visibility was supposed to be 10 miles, but it was a little hazy due to some lightning strikes last night that turned into grass fires.

After spending time with the lovely views, you continue on along the ridge for 1.2 miles and then descend through a dense pine forest (with well-maintained trails, I might add) to the trailhead.

I met three people on my little saunter, all very nice folks. Not only are people nice in general up here, but I've found hikers to be friendly in general. Sure, I have a really small sample size, but it seems to me that people out for a saunter are more likely to say howdy than if you met those same people in the middle of their urban habitant.

I was back to my car by 8:45 (I'm slow and I'm ok with that). I drove home, took a shower, and headed off to the Moscow Farmer's Market. I bought a bunch of stuff, including some awesome red potatoes "just out of the ground this morning!" I do love me some potatoes; moving next to Idaho is going to work out just fine!

Tomorrow I might go to Steptoe Butte—it's really close. I think next weekend I'm going to take a long drive over to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest.