Hiking Ridgeline and Spencer Butte in ice and heavy fog after last week’s snow and yesterday’s good hard rain made for a) difficult hiking above the trees on the stone steps covered in thin clear ice, and b) beautiful foggy sculptures.
The Route (recorded track)
Key objective of the hike was to go as fast as possible until 1300 – stretch goal = 20 miles (>3 m / hour pace). Started the hike just before 0700 (30 min before sunrise) with thick, heavy fog hugging the valley floor. With so much fog, Spring Blv trailhead is the best place to start. Then to Spencer Butte top, then down to Blanton Ridge th and back to Spencer and then finally back to Spring Blvd. Returned to the car @1300, but only 17 miles (2.8 m pace and 3,500 ft elevation gain).
Trail conditions were good given the weather, but the wettest trail this winter with puddles and some small flowing streams. Silver lining the ground was soft and cushioned! All of the snow from last week melted – completely gone.
With all the water and snow the butte just seeped water from everywhere creating little streams and waterfalls like this one.
Spencer covered in ice
Passing Cascade Raptor Center, Dmitri made his deep voice known across the entire valley. A great thing about sounds in the heavy fog – the sounds near by are loud, but the sounds far (like city noises) are quieter than a clear day. Great for listening to birds.
On way to stone stairs, another hiker who I regularly see, mentioned that the stairs were invisibly slippery with clear ice and caution is required. He was so right. The steps were just covered in a thin layer of ice and without my trekking poles, my bum would be sore.
The second time at the top, the ice was gone from the stairs, but the fog was no less present.
The photo on the right caught a raven flying above the nearest fog bank … catching a flying bird with a point / shoot camera is not easy!
Thick, heavy fog
Photos sometimes speak clearly enough – nothing else needed.
On the left, that’s looking at Spencer Butte from the N. Willamette trailhead – nothing to see.
On the right, the meadow looking down to Blanton Ridge trailhead about 50 yards away – nothing to see.
Fog making ice – beautiful
On the ridge across the top of Mt. Baldy, the fog and wind stormed up the ridge and froze in the trees. Absolutely stunningly beautiful, though happy I didn’t have to hang out in that wind.
Even though I missed my stretch goal of 20 total miles in 7 hours, the hike was truly magical in the fog and ice.
[…] Hiking Ridgeline and Spencer Butte for the equinox sunrise in dense wet fog as the woods turn toward spring – just spectacular. Birds were everywhere, the cooler temperatures and wet fog kept most but the dedicated out of the woods, and spring was everywhere in the air. (so different than hiking in ice and snow) […]