Tronsen Ridge

In June 2007 Gary and I made our first visit to Tronsen Ridge. The flower show was spectacular. Each year since then I have returned. This has been a very good year for wildflowers and I wanted to see Tronsen while they were still near the peak. Kim joined me for this visit. We were heading east by 6:30 am. One stop in Cle Elum then north to Blewett Pass and five miles farther north to Five Mile Road. It is about 3.5 miles up the road to the trailhead. Road is getting brushy in a few places so beware of scratching paint on your car. Several good sized ruts. No problem at all in Kim's truck. My Outback would have been fine. Tougher in a sedan. We arrived at the trailhead to find nobody else. I thought someone would be camping up there. We arrived at 8:45 am and were on the trail just after 9:00.

The crazy spot forecast called for 88 degrees in Cashmere down below us and 62 degrees high for the trailhead. I don't know about Cashmere but it felt like much more than 62 degrees in the afternoon. The morning was warm enough for shorts and short sleeves. The flower show was a little less than I have seen in the first mile. Still very good with balsamroot a little past peak and the others near peak. The others included lupine, Indian Paintbrush, mariposa lilies, penstemon, and more. The way goes into forest and we soon saw the first of a whole lot of Tweedy's lewisia. Some a little past peak but many very near the peak. After four previous visits we are getting to know exactly where to look for certain flowers.

Glacier lily pods were all around but only near the high point of the day did we see one in full bloom. Several downed logs have already been cut out. Either a trail crew or motorcyclists with a chain saw have been up the trail. At the first place where the trail traverses open rocky slopes on the west side of the ridge we took the usual short detour. Columbia lewisia, mariposa lilies, balsamroot, scarlet gilia, and bitterroot were in bloom. The flower show sprang into high gear. On the open traverse we saw many onions that were just short of full bloom. We also saw the usual display of locoweed, both the gold and red plus yellow and green varieties. Many bitterroots in the usual place but not the white with a green center ones. First time I have not seen them there.

On the east side of the ridge again we law many more Tweedy's lewisia. The usual place had a hillside of old man's whiskers. A steep climb at the Red Hill trail junction brought us to the short detour to the rocky high point. Lots of Tweedy's just like last year. It was already near noon and time for a short lunch break. It is 2.75 miles to this point. The clear sky allowed for great views of Miller, Earl, Navaho, and Three Brothers peaks in the Teanaway plus Mt. Stuart and the Stuart Range. All still had plenty of snow in early July. Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams were also in sight.

We continued with another open traverse with a lot more wildflower color. It was getting pretty warm by this time. Warmer than I have felt since last fall. We continued to make numerous stops for more photographs. At the end of the traverse was another place with loads of bitterroot. We had seen many more white and very pale pink bitterroot early on. At this place above the trail we found all colors from white to very dark pink. About half were in bloom and half still to come. As always I love how the trail goes from desert with bitteroot, gilia, and sagebrush to green grass and forest with a quick pass to the other side of the ridge. two dramatically different environments only a few dozen feet apart.

A short descent and ridge walk brought us to the lichen wall. The trail traverses below a vertical wall of rock. The rock is "painted" with red and green lichen. The result is an unexpected sight. This is the farthest Kim had been on the trail. The next part was all new for her. A group of motorcyclist, the first people we had seen all day, passed us here. The short open switchbacks up to the ridge again is on soft loose sandy dirt. Once back up to the ridge the trail firms up again. The climb to the high point is a steady but not steep grind. Only the heat was a problem.

We found rock gardens along the trail with a lot of paintbrush, lupine, penstemon, and Tweedy's. The route flattens on the plateau which was our high point for the day. Big old trees with only grass and a little sage brush between. The grass is long and lush. We detoured to our right and the highest point. Nice views out to the mountains as well as south down Tronsen Ridge towards Diamond Head. One tree near the top provided shade. A dozen colors of wildflowers are in bloom at this spot. The GPS recorded 4.62 miles to hear with 1600' of gain. We had 700' more gain on the way back. At 5200' we were actually only about 1100' above the trailhead. A cool breeze was blowing to make it very comfortable.

We had a nice long lunch and nap before getting started again. Before heading back we explored the plateau and I again found a great rock garden. A lot of scarlet gilia, bitterroot, paintbrush, lupine, sagebrush, desert parsley, Tweedy's lewisia, and mounds of many colors of phlox in bloom. One of the highlights of the day. We arrived at lunch at 2:00 pm but it was 3:30 before we started back down the trail. The open traverses were uncomfortably hot for us heat wimps. A few solitary trees provided a shady break before heading back out into the heat. A little breeze helped a lot.

We took far fewer photos on the way back. The uphill grunts were not appreciated at all. The last couple miles were mostly in forest and very pleasant. A couple motorcycles passed us again. Likely some of the same ones who had passes us earlier. I did see a few footprints heading down the trail but we did not see a single other hiker all day. At 6:30 pm we reached the trailhead once again. No other cars to be seen. The drive down the road seemed much worse than up for some reason. We stopped at Mineral Springs for dinner. Not too crowded and good service and food.

It was 10:20 pm when I finally reached home. A very full day of hiking and wildflower photography. Eventually I will get tired of visiting Tronsen every year. Eventually. Until then I will continue to enjoy what is usually the best day of wildflowers for the whole year. Final statistics were 9.37 miles hiked with 2300' of gain. Our time down was 2 hours faster than up. All in all, a great day for wildflowers and solitude on the first day of a holiday weekend.

Kim's Report & Photos at NWHikers

Mariposa Lily
Grassy Meadow
Paintbrush & Lupine
Teanaway & Stuart Pks
Insanely Bright
Narrow Brown Trail
First Tweedy's Lewisia
Back Lit Balsamroot
Sky & Wildflowers
Old Man's Whiskers
Columbia Lewisia
Balsamroot Border
Pink Lupine
Scarlet Gilia
First White Bitterroot
Triple Bitterroot
Really Blue Sky
Penstemon & Balsamroot
Even More Balsamroot
Yellow Tweedy's
More Mountain Views
Pink Tweedy's
Pink Bitterroot
Densely Packed Flowers
Clouds & Wildflowers
White With Pink
Lichen Wall
Colorful Bouquet
Lone Tweedy's
Rock & Tweedy's
Great Rock Garden
Tweedy's Lit Up
Bundle Of Pink
Lunch Two Rock
Single Bitterroot
Another Gilia
Phlox Carpet
Grassy Plateau
Trees & Grass
Yellow/Pink Tweedy's
Kim On Ridge Top
A Last Balsamroot
Yellow Locoweed
Colorful Lupine
Red Paintbrush
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2011