Devil's Gulch / Mission Ridge (Jun 4, 2011)

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devils_gulch_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Tiptop, USGS Blewett Pass, USGS Mission Peak, USGS Monitor
Area: Wenatchee
Reference: Day Hiking Central Cascades
Stats: 19.25mi, 3958' gain (loop)

Well I'll be a monkey's uncle...these new knees really can hike 20 miles...nearly...

I've always eyed Devil's Gulch. Heard stories about it. Seem a few photos. But never got around to hiking it or really even considering it. Somehow, Jim wrangled me into this trip. Thanks Jim :)

Jim was eager to do this trip since the road was washed our for several year and only recently repaired an open. Jim wanted to do the trip counter clockwise (Devil's Gulch/Mission Creek for the first part, then Mission Ridge for the 2nd half). There is a creek crossing he said that could be a deal breaker with Spring melt and it would be bad to hit this just a few miles from the car if done clockwise. So counter it was.

Jim warned me this could be a death march. Nearly 20 miles and shy of 4000' gain...and oh...very little water. The knees were still new, only about 14 months old, so I wanted to take this trip slow so an early start was in order.

The creek portion of the trip was greener that I'd expected for a hike out of Wenatchee. That was a good sign. Right out of the gate we saw lots of wildflowers...scarlet gilia, lupine, calypso orchids, Tweedii, glacier lilies, ballheaded waterleaf, penstemon, balsamroot....still more...old man's whiskers, paintbrush, phlox, mariposa lilies, springbeauty...and more... Really...for a Wenatchee hike...the flowers on this trip were in abundance.

Jim said this was a multi use trail...motorbikes and mountain bikes. We didn't see either the first 1/2 of the trip.

We reached the first creek crossing. Not all that wide. Jim crossed first. Jim's a tall guy and all I can say is...that water was fast and deep! Mid thigh for both of us. I changed into sandals I brought and crossed with a bit of help from Jim. From here the trail was in and out of the trees. In dark forest and rocks slopes. The second creek crossing came somewhere around 5 miles. Jim crossed on a log over deep water, I found a ford a bit upstream that was wider and shallower. Boots off...Sandals on...Boots on... Again. A few more minor creek crossings (no debooting here). Then another ford about 7.5miles in. off...sandals on... From here back to the car (the ridge portion of the trip), some 10+ miles, there would be no more water. From the final creek crossing to the top of the ridge we had only about 1400' to gain, not bad. The gentle grade of the motorcycle trail made for slow going. The trail seemed to go on forever. On the way up to the ridge we met our first mountain bikers...a small group doing the loop clockwise. At the top of the ridge we finally joined up with the Mission Ridge Trail and it was time for lunch....a late one...about 1/2 way into our trip.

The day was heating up pretty good but thankfully the ridge provided reasonable shade but with 10+ miles already behind us the ups and downs along the ridge did seem to go on forever. Lush grasses with wildflowers sprinkled in underneath the canopy or huge ponderosas. It was hard to complain too much. Then finally, we began the decent. Painfully slow at first but then the grade steepened. When we finally saw the bridge over the creek we both cheered knowing we were not far from the car.
Devils Gulch > Mission Ridge Slideshow

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