Sun Searching on Easton Ridge / 伊斯頓脊上尋找陽光

Thank you for having us
Thank you for having us

It’s that time of the year when I start looking for hikes in the rain shadow for views and sunshine. It’s also the time when snow over mountain passes begins to pose a danger. So we either head north to the upper Puget Sound or east of the Cascade crest with lower precipitation.

See more trip photos here.

The Lowdown on Easton Ridge

Access: Kachess Dam Road by the snow berm
Round Trip: 9 miles

Elevation Range: 2240′-4517′
Gear: microspikes, snowshoes
GPS Track: available

Road Walk to Trail Junction

Kachess Dam Road isn’t usually accessible by car during winter months. Motor vehicles park before the berm about 100 yards in from the stop sign. Roads beyond the berm naturally become snowmobilers haven. We enjoyed a quiet walk on the 1.5-mile stretch to the Kachess Ridge Trailhead with a 7 AM start. I kept fingers crossed for views on this cloudy day.

With plenty of recent tracks on Easton Ridge Trail, snowshoes remained on the pack in the lower trails. I used microspikes for traction. We arrived at the Easton Ridge trail junction and then took a short break before moving on. Most tracks continued onto the Domerie Divide Trail; Easton ridge officially started here.

See more trip photos here.

Easton Ridge Traverse

Following no fewer than three sets of snowshoe and boot tracks, pup and I headed southeast on the ridge. Occasionally we would posthole in the semi-open forest but not too bad. I sometimes got glimpses of nearby ridges, plus I-90 along the winding Yakima River. It’s fascinating that Yakima River travels from Keechelus Lake down to Richland in Eastern Washington!

So far we have been following tracks that dwindled right before the outcrops on Point 4291. Now it’s up to us to break trail for the remaining 1.2 miles in fresh powder. After taking another break and putting on snowshoes, we bypassed the outcrops by dropping down onto the south slopes.

We sidestepped on steep slopes below the outcrops, then got back onto the ridge on the east side. We continued to traverse southeast, meanwhile getting over two minor knobs, and finally arrived on the flat, windy summit. The obvious high point in the clearing wasn’t the actual summit; the true summit sat behind a line of tall trees.

See more trip photos here.

The Hidden Summit

We tagged the summit and then quickly retreated to the south side to dodge the wind. The wind continued to blow for the remainder of our summit stay. High points on the Kachess Ridge slowly appeared: Mount Baldy and Domerie Peak. I also got to see a few Teanaway peaks plus the southern end of Cle Elum Lake. Low clouds on the south side never entirely dissipated to provide any excellent views.

See more trip photos here.

The Outro

On the descent, we reversed our route through forest and took a break back next to Point 4291. Since the snow had become soft, I kept snowshoes on and took them off at the trail junction. It was surprising to not run into anyone on our quiet hike back down to the main road.

As expected, the minute we got back on the main road the snowmobilers were now out and about playing. They sure were having a great time bouncing around in the snow!


See more trip photos here.

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