Tronsen Ridge (Jun 20, 2014)

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tronsen_ridge_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Tiptop, USGS Blewett Pass
Area: Blewett Pass
Reference: Day Hiking Snoqualmie Region
Stats: 7.69mi, 1703' gain (round trip)

I've been wanting to get back up to Tronsen Ridge to hike this wonderful, colorful trail. I didn't make it up there last year. This year I had some hope. I no longer have the Subie, replaced with a low clearance Jetta. So if I made it up there...someone else would need to drive...

Carol contacted me early in the week..."do you have Friday off"..."want to do a hike"? Sure! I knew Dani had the day off too. But what to do. I first suggested Davis Pk, understandable that we'd want to wait until that trail was more melted out. I paged through some old trip reports...what was I doing this time of year in previous year....then I saw it...Tronsen Ridge. It's actually been 4 years since I hiked the trail. Time flies! This was a first real "trail" hike for me after getting the knees replaced. I thought Carol had done this trip but I knew Dani hadn't. So we settled on a plan. We'd hike Tronsen Ridge from the north trailhead (access via Five Mile Road) and Carol would drive.

We didn't get a super early start but we met west side about 7am, settled into one car, and started the drive east. Darker clouds west of the crest but as soon as we popped over Snoqualmie Pass we could see blue patches of sky. We drove to Cle Elum, then north on 970. At the Blewett Pass summit Carol reset her trip odometer and at exactly five miles north of the pass, bingo...Five Mile Road off on the right (east) side of the road. Some years this road can be bad, others...manageable. I'd read a trip report recently of a Civic getting up to the trailhead so the CRV should do just fine. Sure expected. There are a couple of big dips in the road, lots of larger rocks, and higher up some stream gullies running the length of the road. The CRV did just fine. I wouldn't dare taking a regular clearance car up there though. The road is rough, steep in sections, large rocks, rutted, and narrow (with little or no place to pull over if you hit opposing traffic). We got to the trailhead (4181') and found we were the only car. Nice!

There was lupine and mariposa lilies right around the parking area so I was excited that we'd have a nice flower show. The trail starts out in the open in some grassy areas full of lupine and lousewort. There are a couple of longer switchbacks and then the trail is high up on the ridge, just west of Pt 4778 (.83mi, 4634').  From here the trail just meanders along the ridge, bits of ups and downs, sometimes on the right side of the ridge, sometimes on the left side.

It did seem awfully dry for this time of years. Lupine and balsamroot seemed a bit past prime (maybe a week). In previous years (2008, 2009, 2010) I've been on the trail from mid June to early July and each time, the flower show was stunning. This year, it seemed well beyond peak. I think peak show was about 2 weeks ago. There are still some flowers going strong (buckwheat, wild roses, clematis, old man's whiskers) but the typical flowers I'm used to seeing this time of year (penstemon, Tweedii mainly) were gone or petering out. Weirdest yet, the bitterroot I'm used to seeing about 3-4 mile in, was just starting. There were a few tiny pink flowers but not the cluster flocks I'm used to seeing this time of year.

We took our time. It was nice to be out on a ridge walk seeing views off both sides. This was my first trip on the trail since the fire in 2012. The first three miles are fine, but just after about 3 miles from the car we saw the first signs of the fire. The burn continued to our turnaround spot (about 4mi) and further. Some trees burned so hot the roots underground are even gone. There is a sign at the junction with the Red Hill trail to beware of the dead trees that could come down. We were a bit cautious since we had a good breeze (12-15mph) all day. This is one of the trails that I have nearly memorized about where I know I'll see certain flowers. But the burn has really changed the character of the trail. In some places it just didn't look familiar. Except in a few places untouched by the first, the 4 miles of the ridge we hiked is nearly all out in the open now.

Fun trip. Thanks Dani and Carol for the company and Carol...thanks again for driving!
Tronsen Ridge Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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