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09/02/08 - Klahane Ridge and The "Kick In The Ass"

There are several ways to get to Klahane Ridge. One way is to start at the Hurricane Ridge Lodge and head along the trail via Sunrise Peak. Another way is to come up from the Heart of the Hills Trailhead, either via Lake Angeles or Heather Park. The way we usually get there is from the Switchback Trail from a crook in Hurricane Ridge Road. You can also die and go to heaven.

This year the Switchback Trail has been open and closed. Sometimes the parking lot is simply closed. Sometimes it is open, but you have to share your parking spot with a big pile of gravel. Other times, such as this Labor Day, it was open. We took the trail up, watching the sea clouds heading up and inland, and hoping that we would reach the ridge before our view was spoiled. We made good time, and were rewarded with a spectacular view of Mount Olympus to the south. To the north, there were clouds, but we could see the bowl of the mountain below us with only a few patches of snow remaining.

The flowers are heading towards autumn, with more asters, yarrows and possibly coreopsis. We wanted more, so we went for what one hiker called the "kick in the ass". We took the trail towards Lake Angeles, which heads up about 150 feet, before it begins its 2000 foot descent. This trail heads along the open ridge face for a ways, then it passes through "the gate", along a magic carpet of what appear to be frosted plants, and then through a second rocky "gate" to the high castle. This area is always slow to thaw and early to freeze, so here, the lupines lingered in masses among the eerie stones.

There are views north and south, and a bit past the "castle" there is an overlook of the bowl of Klahane Ridge. Shortly after here, the trail begins its descent in earnest. We weren't quite that earnest, so we turned back. It was afternoon, and the view was getting cloudier. Mist ran across the trail, hiding trees, and playing games. Then came the sun again, as the mist blew by. By the time we returned to the parking lot, the trail looked sunny and clear again, ready with its spectacular views for another group of hikers.

Lupines were still blooming in the "castle".

A magic carpet

One of many rock gardens

Mount Angeles and some lingering snow

A caterpillar and quite a big one


Keywords: autumn, flowers, klahane ridge, lake angeles