A Kachess Ridge Reverie / 卡契斯脊的遐想

After yesterday’s enjoyable trip, today we returned to the same area. In the past, we’d explored the southern end of Kachess Ridge. But we hadn’t yet been to the section between Little Kachess Peak and Thorp Mountain. So I wanted to connect the dots by going up to Hard Knox and the neighboring peaks.

Hard Knox on the other side of the saddle
Hard Knox on the other side of the saddle

See more trip photos here.

Kachess Ridge at a Glance

Kachess Ridge = Hard Cheese + Hard Knox + Not Knox + Kachess Ridge + French Tongue + French Chin
卡契斯脊=硬起司+諾克斯峯+非諾克斯峯+卡契斯脊+法國舌+法國頦

Access: French Cabin Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 8 miles
Elevation Range: 4160′-5841′

Gear: microspikes, helmet
GPS Track: available

French Cabin Creek Trail to Hard Cheese

Road 4308 was in decent shape. The spur road 134 was a bit rocky and brushy. But luckily, we were able to continue through to the West Fork French Creek crossing and park before the culvert. We hiked up the road and then reached the trailhead shortly.

French Cabin Creek Trail followed the gentle terrain to the first junction. Then we got onto the Thorp Mountain Trail and headed north. The decent trail made a couple of long switchbacks before snow appeared. After a few more turns, then we finally reached the forested summit.

First sighting of Mount Rainier and Kachess Lake
First sighting of Mount Rainier and Kachess Lake

See more trip photos here.

Onward to Hard Knox

With no views on Hard Cheese, we continued to walk across the snow-filled summit meadow. Just before we started to go down the north side, the summer trail resurfaced. Soon, the path became icy above the saddle. So I put on microspikes by the clearing looking toward Hard Knox.

Despite being in the forest, there were occasional views out to the northeast. At 5600′, the trail bypassed Hard Knox on the east. But we stayed on the ridge crest and scrambled the rest 200′ up to the top. The shrub-covered summit offered excellent views.

Stuart Range plus Teanaway
Stuart Range plus Teanaway

See more trip photos here.

The Neighboring Not Knox

Not Knox was just a stone’s throw away. So after soaking up the views, we proceeded to go down the west ridge and reached the saddle. We moved over to the south slopes after seeing that the ridgeline was becoming rocky. Then directly below the summit, we went up to the top by way of scree and slabs.

Not Knox was only a few feet shorter than Hard Knox. But it was woodsy except on the south side. So we could still see the nearby high points from here. I looked at the clock and saw that there was still plenty of time in the day. So I decided to check out Kachess Ridge also.

En Route to Kachess Ridge high point
En Route to Kachess Ridge high point

See more trip photos here.

En Route to Kachess Ridge High Point

After making our way down via the west ridge, we scrambled east and went back on the main trail. Then we hiked back through Hard Cheese and went down the south side. Right before reaching the trail junction, we made a right onto Road 115. This way got us right to the bottom of Kachess Ridge.

From the north saddle, I found a faint trail leading up to the forested ridge. The path became more defined higher up, and it stayed on the crest. Along the way, through trees, we were able to see out to the east. Once we got to the ridgetop, the summit was just another 150′ gain to the south.

Kachess Lake view from southeast peak
Kachess Lake view from the southeast peak

See more trip photos here.

Kachess Ridge Summit Ridge Traverse

The GPS track indicated that we were on the real summit. But the southeastern high point had me wonder. So we traversed over the crest to check it out since it wasn’t much farther down the ridgeline. Once there, I then glanced back and saw that the other end of the ridge was a little taller.

Despite the wind, this high point offered a much better view of Kachess Lake. It also had more of a panoramic view compared with the real summit. After staying for a short time, we reversed the traverse back to the other side. We stayed for a while since the wind was much calmer here.

French Cabin Mountain
French Cabin Mountain

See more trip photos here.

The Neighboring French Tongue

Earlier, when we were at the bottom of Kachess Ridge, I took notice of the two impressive features. After looking at them again from the summit, I decided to go and check out the terrain. Neither of them looked feasible for the pup. But he could always wait for me below the top if need be.

A buttress west of French Tongue forced us down to 5100′ to bypass it. As we went up in the south gully, we then encountered a class 4 step. But it was feasible for us to get up and down. So we both climbed up to the somewhat exposed summit and enjoyed the views for a short while.

Hard Cheese, Hard Knox, and Not Knox
Hard Cheese, Hard Knox, and Not Knox

See more trip photos here.

French Chin Plus Outro

Afterward, we descended the south ridge and went down to the forested east saddle. Kachess Ridge No Name Ridge Trail (#1315) traveled through this pass. We went up the west ridge to the top of French Chin with a bivy site. Since the views were more or less the same as French Tongue, we didn’t stay long.

Back on the pass, we followed the trail back into French Cabin Basin. The path intersected French Cabin Creek Trail in half a mile. It was the same junction we went through this morning. We then reversed our route and got back to the trailhead in one mile. From there, we bypassed the road by scrambling through light brush and down to the car.

South view
South view

See more trip photos here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.