Tronsen Ridge

Gwen invited me for a hike to Tronsen Ridge. It would be my third visit to or past Blewett Pass in two weeks. The problem is that the narrow spot on the slope of Road 9712 had washed out again. A report said it had some work done and was better. The Forest Service said work had been done on the washout. They were not sure if it was finished. With all that in mind, we headed out on Saturday morning. We were on the road at 6:30 am. We exited Highway 97 at Blewett Pass. Up the road to the junction with Road 9712 and then on to the washout area. The rocks have been removed and there is no longer water running over the road. It has been pretty well smoothed out. It is rough but we had no trouble with Gwen's Outback. I recall the rest of the road as being very potholed. It is not smooth but was in much better condition than I recalled. I had not been up this road since the big recent fire. I have we continued beyond Ken Wilcox Horse Camp to where the road turns sharply to the right. The road left continues to the old Tronsen Ridge Trailhead. There was one car there. Room for us and at least one more car.

My first trip to Tronsen Ridge was in June 2007. Gary and I hiked the trail south to near the south trailhead. In all my visits since I had not hiked to the south end. This time We would be starting there. The road is on the right side of Naneum Creek and a trail on the left side. The creek is not very wide. We chose to walk the road the .80 miles to the trailhead. We started hiking at 9:23 am. Where we parked the forest was full of blooming glacier lilies. The road was lined with mostly silver snags from the fire. Along the creek were a lot of shooting stars in bloom. I had not seen any so far this year. They are very small so we were quickly down on our knees taking photos. The road was poorer than what we had driven but not a disaster. We arrived at the trailhead in a sea of silver snags. This was until recent years a big green forest. Now there are views between the silver poles.

The trail begins by descending The highest point of the route was here at about 5812'. Thee are a few ups and downs but mostly the ridge descends as it goes northward. Before long the silver poles turned to live trees mixed with silver snags. We could see The Stuart Range and Glacier Peak plus Mt. Rainier soon after. The mostly open terrain provided a good spot for wildflowers. We saw them early and for most all of the day. There were old man's whiskers  and death camas plus lupine and phlox. We saw ballhead waterleaf and balsamroot. We saw the first of many clematis sightings. Four motorcyclists passed us heading uphill. We saw them again later. Before long, the Tweedy Lewisia show began. This one lasted most of the day. I seldom see this flower. On Monday I saw a lot of it on the Devil's Gulch-Mission Ridge loop trip. Not coincidentally, Devil's Gulch is just below Tronsen Ridge on the east side.

It was beginning to warm up. The open trail did enter some forest and that cooled things down. We had fun trying to remember the names of some of the flowers we saw. There was quite a lot of grass in open meadows and beneath trees in the forest. The wet and cool spring has been good for wildflowers and everything east of the crest has been greener longer than usual. The trail has a steep climb up to the top of a small flat hill. We detoured and found a big patch of balsamroot, larkspur, Tweedys, and more. As was the case all day, consistent hiking gave way to long periods of photographing a whole lot of wildflowers. When we reached the main trail we saw two hikers ahead of us. The trail drops from the hill and continues mostly below the left side of the ridge top. At a flat rocky spot, Gwen noticed brightly colored bitterroot. They were quite small but the dark pink colors were terrific. On Mission Ridge, we saw an enormous display of bitterroot. It was mostly white and light pink. Here, it was so much brighter.

We saw a lot of bitterroot displays beyond this point. Two more folks went by as we were stopped here. We saw people on many parts of the trail but the total was very small. Maybe a dozen or so all day long. Yet another great hike with a lot of solitude. The trail drops down and switchbacks to the base of a big rock wall with red and green lichen-looking colors We detoured to the top of the rock. Some great views of the trail ahead where there are almost no trees and a lot of all-too sunny slopes. Views of Diamond Head and Mt. Rainer to the south. North was Mt. Stuart and Glacier Peak. Lots of other snowy peaks were visible including Bonanza Peak. Gwen noticed the only scarlet gilia in bloom we saw this day. We then dropped down to the base of the rock wall. In addition to the colored rock, we saw balsamroot and penstemon in bloom. The color never really ended. In the rocks were more Tweedy Lewisia.

Farther along we saw a few mariposa lilies. I saw hundreds of them in Devil's Gulch. The trail climbed a bit. We reached a place we recalled from trips going south. An open slope had lots of bitterroot mixed with onions. We saw both dark purple larkspur and a very light blue variety. It was getting very hot as we now had almost no shade. We decided to continue on to near the trail that goes to Red Hill. It was about 4.5 miles to that spot. I thought there would be shade but no dice. Pushing through a few big fir trees did give us a shaded spot for lunch. It was now 1:59 pm. With all our stops we hiked 4.5 miles in about 4.5 hours. Speed was not the goal this day.

After cooling down at lunch we headed a short way up the slope to the top. We had eaten lunch there on a cool previous trip. Lots more Tweedy, balsamroot, lupine, penstemon, and more there. We noticed the saddle below had a very large Tweedy display. A little hunting around showed an easy way to scramble down to it. We had seen so much blooming Tweedy Lewisia all day but this was probably the densest display I have seen. Now we just had to retrace our steps. We still took a lot of photo stops but far fewer than on the way out. The downside of this trip is that we would be heading uphill most of the way back. It would also be in the heat of the day. Fortunately, we had some breeze much of the way back. Surprisingly, when we reached the first bitterroot display many of them had closed up. It was still about 5 hours before sunset. I knew they closed up but did not expect it to be so early.

We took one more food and water break on the flat hill. Then it was down and a long up back to the highest point. A little before the trailhead I noticed a snow patch below the trail. It was the only snow seen all day. We were glad to reach the trailhead. We still had .80 miles to go but it was on a gentle downhill grade. We arrived back at the car at 5:47 pm. It was a long day for a 9 mile hike with 1900' of elevation gain. The long periods out in the sun made it a bit more challenging for me but we both did fine. The drive back to Seattle was with very light traffic. I have not seen that on a sunny summer Saturday in quite a while. It was much appreciated as we had about 5 hours in the car at the speed limit.

When Gwen suggested the hike I was a little apprehensive about the road washout condition and the heat. As it turned out, neither was a big problem.  The wildflower display I saw on the 17 mile hike on Monday was incredible. This one was shorter but really good. It might have been the second best wildflower hike of the week and among the best I have had in the past half dozen years. That says something about the quality and quantity of wildflowers I have seen this year east of the Cascade Crest. The trip had great company and a great wildflower display. Just what I had hoped for.

Glacier Lily
White Flower
Shooting Stars
Road To Trailhead
More Shooting Stars
Another White Flower
Silver Forest
Pink Phlox
Mt. Rainier
Mt. Stuart
Glacier Peak
Ridge Top Trail
Desert Parsley
Balsamroot Bounty
White Phlox
Multi-Colored Phlox
First Tweedy Lewisia
Jacob's Ladder
Nearing The Hill
Bunch Of Balsamroot
Woodland/Prairie Star
Pink Tweedy
Sunny Tweedy
Close Up
Northern Tronsen Ridge
Tiny Flower
Dark Pink Bitterroot
White Center
Colorful Ground
Twin White Bitterroot
Death Camas & Whiskers
Wenatchee Valerian
Blue Sky & Wildflowers
Gwen On Trail
View From Scramble
Sandstone Peaks
Scarlet Gilia
Lichen Wall
Mariposa Lily
Gwen At Work
Daisy Like Flower
Blue Larkspur
Almost Halfway
Lone Bitterroot
More Tweedy Lewisia
Gwen & Tweedy
Sulphur Larkspur
Heading Back
White Tips
Less Colorful Angle
Heavily Laden
Balsamroot Heaven
Sage Meadow
Red Turns White
Thompson's Paintbrush
Another Glacier Lily
Gnarled Silver Snag
More Shooting Stars
Lined Road
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2022