The direct path from here to that ridge, was a huge loop to the left, and quite a bit of up and down to get there.
The view from my back deck looks across the valley to a high ridge, one that looks continuous from the peak of Strawberry Mountain on the left. I’ve been up on parts of the ridge a few times- there are no formal trails. If you are sharp, you find the game trails left by deer and elk. But they are nimble creatures and climb some steep grades. My previous excursions have involved a lot of literal bushwhacking (keep in mond that many bushes here have thorns) and usually some stupid slippery descent.
But I’ve scouted the topo maps and did some flybys in Google Earth. Today was the day to make a traverse.
And perhaps you know that saying about the map not being the territory? True. Terrain gets simplified in maps, details of ravines and rocky ridges get lost below resolution.
Here’s a track of my trip today, captured in the RunKeeprr app (O exported the KML file and loaded it in Google Earth)
I’ve not been doing nearly enough exercise, you can see how I pegged so many “achievements” in RunKeeper:
Farthest Distance 8.32 mi
Longest Duration 4:37:42
Most Calories Burned 1480 cal
Largest Elevation Climb 1513 ft
Farthest Distance in a Week 8.32 mi
Longest Duration in a Week 4:37:42
Most Calories Burned in a Week 1480 cal
Largest Elevation Climb in a Week 1513 ft
Farthest Distance in a Month 8.32 mi
Longest Duration in a Month 4:37:42
Most Calories Burned in a Month 1480 cal
Largest Elevation Climb in a Month 1513 ft
Gimme the damned badge.
Until the latter part, I left the phone map in the pocket, and relied on what I remembered of the terrain. The lay of the land of course changes in many ways compared to viewing from my deck to standing atop the mountain. What looks like a straight shoot turns out to be broken by more ravines and rubbly climbs than you see from far away.
But its fun to put your knowledge of land shapes, drainages, and direction to work, sans mobile device. The thing here is a straight map line traverse would be deadly, and I found at the top, I had to curve way back from the front ridge to work my way around the steep drops between the ridge parts. It often seemed like going in the wrong direction to get the right direction.
The best strategy I found was to keep as much to the high ground as possible, much of it was open and just rocky. I was thinking of my undergraduate Geology mentor, Doc Thompson, who was always talking durting our field work about the wise route to contour your way around rough terrain, meaning to try to avoid a lot of up and down. As a bunch of 20 somethings we laughed and dashed up and down, but Doc’s words felt right on today.
I spent 4 hours exploring and moving around the mountain top, and did not see one sign of human activity beyond what had been cleared by the forest service years ago. No trash. No signs. No roads (well I did walk a bit on a jeep trail along a fenceline– and bumped into a cell phone tower.
This idea of smartly contouring ones way around rough terrain seemed metaphoric for something. And the practice of putting yourself at the mercy of your own ability, direction sensing, and way findinding is about one of the most rewarding experiences I can think of.