Waterworks Canyon (May 10, 2014)

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waterworks_cyn_coverConditions: Day Hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Tieton, USGS Milk Canyon
Area: Naches, WA
Reference:
Stats: 2.41mi, 1748' gain (round trip)

I had this grand idea...I was feeling ambitious...strong... I'd get caught up on homework/classwork on my off Friday. Then a trip up Waterworks Canyon (actually the ridge east of the canyon) on Saturday as a solo trip. Then...another trip on Sunday.

I got up early Saturday and started the long drive over to Naches. From my house north of Seattle, it's nearly a 3 hours drive. The trailhead is a bit obscure but I'd had a trip from a friend. Look for the short bridge over an irrigation canal right after turning off 12 and onto 410. I was looking for it but sure enough, I blew right past it. I turned around and pulled into what really is just a glorified pull-off right off 410. It was just before 9am and I was the only car.

I finished packing and up the trail I went...through the gate then looking for a boot path to my right (just inside the gate) I crossed the creek (mostly dry) and headed up the steep ridge. Gosh...this looks and feels like a mini Keystone Point trip I said to myself... The trail isn't really a trail at all. A bit of a boot path in some places, a game trail in others. At best, I'd call it a scramble route up a ridge. Rocky, steep, in some places a bit exposed.

I headed up the trail and...what the heck is with this wind??? Forecast wasn't calling for strong winds like this. I told myself that likely this was just due to me being near the mouth of the canyon. I continued steeply uphill hoping the winds would abate...

The route stays right on the ridge crest. Sometimes dipping slightly down one side or the other to navigate around some minor rock formations.

I continued uphill and stowed my sunglasses and my hat. Anything that wasn't tied down to me, including my trekking poles, had this weird desire to go airborne...

My plan was to follow the ridge to Pt 3582, drop down to a minor saddle on the ridge, then continue up another 1200' or so the main ridge of Cleman Mtn. Then, I'd make a loop of the trip by returning back to the car via the Waterworks Canyon trail. It would be a 10+ mile day. Reasonable.

The winds continued to build and several times a gust would nearly knock me off my feet. OK if I was on a broad section of the ridge, not so OK when the ridge narrowed. Dang... I continued up towards Pt 3582 when  big gust hit. Crap... I'm travelling solo. I don't want a fall...

So, a bit shy of Pt 3582 I abruptly bailed. The winds were just getting stronger. Now to head down...but I wasn't looking forward to this. Steep and with rocks the size of marbles to make the trip down sporty. Then one gust hits and knocks me down backwards. Crack...my elbow hits the rocks. I stay still for a second hoping I've not broken my arm. Nope...but I stand up, look at my arm, and my elbow is gushing. Great... I guess it was smart to head back down...

So I retraced my route up all the way back down to the car. I only spotted one rattlesnake. At least it was far enough away that it didn't rattle and hiss and me.

Back down to the car at a way too early 11:37am. Just as I arrive...message from Jim...he's game to hike up Dirtyface tomorrow. Awesome!
 
Waterworks Canyon Slideshow

waterworks_cyn_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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