Manastash Ridge (Apr 5, 2014)

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manastash_ridge_coverConditions: Day Hike
Gear: Nothing Special
Map: USGS Manastash Creek
Area: Ellensburg
Reference: Desert Hikes Washington
Stats: 7.88mi, 2490' gain (round trip)

Ick, Ick, Ick. Early in the week the forecast looked wet everywhere. Late in the week the only promising area looked like someplace around Ellensburg. AlanB had recently posed a couple of photos of Manastash Ridge with flowers...hmmm...

I pinged Jim to see if he was interested. He waffled like an Eggo waffle at first...suspicious of the weather. Then, late Friday night..."I'm in". Good!

We met at the SE 8th P&R and began the soaking wet drive over Snoqualmie Pass. Yikes was it raining. We sure hoped the forecast was going to hold. Sure enough...just east of the crest the sky looked brighter. By Easton blue sun breaks were opening up. This was looking promising. We'd got an early start (7:10am meet time at the P&R) because the forecast did say light rain was going to move in late morning and into the afternoon.

We were the 22nd car to park at the wide spot at the end of Cove Road. This looked to be a popular trailhead. Runners? Mtn bikers? Other hikers???

We were headed up the trail (Westberg Trail TH 1876') up the drainage by about 8:50am. The trail crosses a large drainage over a couple of planks, we headed up the drainage and then before the first sharp turn in the trail we followed a steep boot path/trail up to the top of the rib on the north side of Manastash Ridge (.6mi, 2208'). The rib is nearly flat in some spots and there are short stretches where the "trail" is steep. We reached the top of the ridge (2.25mi, 3568') and wow...the sun was out, the wind was minimal and best of all...we'd already seen some flowers. At this junction there is a series of several (many) memorials. We'd thought there would be just the one (Westberg Memorial) but there were at least a half dozen and a large pile of stones looks like it's become a sort of memorial to locals who have passed.

We stepped aside and continued up to the first highpoint where we dropped out packs to get some snacks. Still, even on top of the ridge, the wind was minimal. The day was already turning out better than expected. The trail/4WD road continued westward with several moderate ups and downs along the way. We stopped at about 4.07mi (3847') for a proper lunch and we watched as minor squalls moved in and over Ellensburg. Several of the squalls obscured the wind farm towers. Looking further to the west we could see dark clouds over the observatory which were slowly making their way east. Rain was coming...it was just a matter of when. We finally packed up and headed back down.

The "trail" is really a series of multiple use trails (old roads, mountain bike trails, hiker trails, etc.

Several early wildflowers were out...buttercups, yellow bells, grass widows, spring beauty, violets, and bluebells.

At this point, the snow is gone from the ridge.
 
Manastash Ridge Slideshow

manastash_ridge_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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