Tronsen Ridge

Last year I mad my first visit to Tronsen Ridge. The flower were on of the hiking hilights of the year. I wanted to come back. Janet was planning to hike in that area and we teamed up for Tronsen. Gary and I had gone all the way to the north end of the trail. This time I was planning on going in 5 miles to a nice viewpoint. After 13 miles the day before that would be plenty for me. I drove and I had a little trepidation about the Five Mile Road accessing the north trailhead. Janet and I met in Bellevue at 7:00 am and headed east.

Just like the Miller Peak trip the day before we headed up 970 and 97. This time our goal was five miles north of Blewett Pass. The Five Mile Road is right at five miles and is well signed. It is only 3 1/4 miles to the trailhead. There are a few berms to crawl over down low then the road begins to climb. Joe had hike the trail just two days earlier and had not seen any Tweedy's Lewisia. That was the highlight of the trip last year. Gary and I had seen a big patch along th road up. We kept a lookout for it.

In fact we found the same big patch of blooming lewisia. We stopped and got out our cameras. They were right about their peak. Mission accomplished. The last mile had some deep ruts but my Subaru Outback had no problems. Mot cars could make it but a little more ground clearance did help. We arrived at the trailhead to find no other cars. It was 9:20 and already shorts and short sleeves warm.

We saw a lot of birds right at the start. The trail is never steep but seldom level. It goes up and down consistently. That means there is a fair bit of climbing to look forward to on the way back. We began to climb in open grassland with some trees along the ridge crest. The way alternates between cool forest mostly on thte east side of the ridge and open rocky semi desert, mostly on the west side. There is even sagebrush on the ridge crest in places.

Flowers began immediately. Balsamroot, lupine, and others in the first stretch. We came around to the west side of the ridge and an opening in the trees gave views across to Miller Peak, where I was the day before, and to the Stuart Range. Back in forest we crossed to the other side of the ridge. Occasionally we would see different varieties of wildflowers. The snow was not long gone here as we found glacier lilies still blooming. Spring beauty was also prolific.

Buttercups appeared. As we reached to first open rocky section the flowers changed. Now we saw sagebrush and bitterroot. The bitterroot were mostly small and very white. They were pink bitterroot but very pale. On Cougar Mountain in the Kettle Range I had seen white bitterroot. The flower pod itself was green instead of red. The center was green and yellow not reddish. I had never seen it before. On Tronsen ridge I saw it again. Janet noticed it and it was exactly the same as I had seen on Cougar. We could not find even one other grouping of the white bitterroot. They were just opening in the morning but fully open when we returned.

At the Red Hill intersection we continuted uphill on the Tronsen Ridge Trail. A short detour took us to a rocky nob. Around it on the east side of the ridge we found more Tweedy's Lewisia. There were many flower pods and some were open. They were just not big and healthy like the ones we saw lower down on the road. This pattern was repeated all along the ridge. They are there and flowering but slightly withered. It's as if they just did not get enough water this spring.

The flower show continued and our pace was very slow as a consequence. At Iron Creek the day before I noticed there were no flowering gilia. Last year on Tronsen we had a number of fields of scarlet gilia. This year we saw not a one. The other flowers were out similar to the year before but not the gilia. I don't know if our timing was bad or if there won't be any this year.

It was getting toasty out in the sun. I found myself looknig forward to the shady sections of trail. We were caught and passed by two backcountry forest rangers from the Entiat District. Nice guys. We had an enjoyable converstation. They were followed by two ORV rangers. These guys had motorcycles and a chainsaw. They managed to cut out one very large log after we had passed it. Wow! four rangers on one trail at once. What were the odds?

This was the first day that motorcycles were allowed on the trail this year. We saw half a dozen groups of two to 6 bikes. All were very courteous when passing. Many more ups and downs led to a view of our lunch spot. We dropped down to pass a rocky wall of yellow and orange colored rock. Some kind of lichen has brightly colored the rcck. From there we switchbacked up to the ridge and entered forest. A short way later we went off trail to our lunch spot. It is just before the trail makes a longer drop.

We had nice views of the mountains to the west. Our slow photo pace ended up taking us 3 1/2 hours to cover the 5 miles. It was now nearing 1:00 and we were both starved. Bugs were not much of problem. We could eat and not worry about skeeters and flys. The trip back was much quicker. In fact it took us just over 2 hours. My camera LCD screen stopped working which was frustrating. I could not access the menu to make changes. I could make a few changes looking through the veiwfinder but not very many. Looks like it may be going back for repairs. I could still take photos I just did not know what the settngs were.

The last few hills really dragged on. We did meet two other hikers, the only ones of the day. They had parked along Hihgway 97 and bushwhacked up more than 1,000 feet. That was more adventure than I was up for this day. We also met a group of mountain bikers at the Red Hill junction. In the heat of the day they looked a little beat after having climbed up the trail. The rest of the way out went quickeer and we were back to the car by around 4:15 pm.

The flowers were very good though the lewisia was much porrer than the year before. At least we found the one really good patch down along the road. The balsamroot were even better this year. The bitterroot seemed to be more numerous. That one green pod bitterroot was a real find. The variety of this trail is spectacular. Grass to desert to firs to pine forest. It has it all and it is constantly changing. Thanks to Janet too for inviting me along.

Janet's Report is here:   Nwhikers Report & Photos

Tweedy's Lewisia
Lewisia Along Road
Peaking Lewisia
Twin Tweedy's
Janet Near Beginning
Balsamroot Patch
Teanaway & Stuart
Mossy Tree
Spring Beauty
Sky & Flowers
Yellow Bell
Strange Pods
White Bitterroot
Bunch O' Bitterroot
Janet And Peaks
Off Trail
Pink Bitterroot
Ups And Downs
Lined With Balsamroot
Tweedy's In Rocks
A Healthy Lewisia
Colors On Rock
Final Lewisia
Colorful Bitterroot
White Bitterroot Close Up
White Bunch Is Open
Close Up Flower
Balsamroot & Paintbrush
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008