Cleman Mountain by Naches River / 靠納奇斯河的克萊曼山

Cleman Mountain was perfect for social distancing. There was no one here! Things had progressed so fast. Just last weekend, we were up on Tiger Mountain seeing people out and about. But then I started seeing terms like social isolation, self-quarantine, or flattening the curve on social media.

Cleman Mountain summit ahead
Cleman Mountain summit ahead

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Rattler Benchmark at a Glance

Access: Waterworks Canyon Trailhead
Round Trip: 15 miles
Elevation Range: 1650′-5115′
Gear: none
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

Waterworks Canyon Approach

We had been here once. But back then, we were near the canyon. There are many options to go up to Cleman Mountain. Some people come up through the Wenas Valley. While others take the southern route through Sanford Canyon. But we started at Waterworks Canyon.

As soon as we entered the gate, we went up the steep slopes to the left. The terrain eased up past Point 2090. But soon, it steepened once again at 2800′. From there, we then moved to the southwest ridge to avoid the loose rocks. Then we slowly worked our way up to 3500′.

A path to follow
A path to follow

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Going up the Ridgeline

Once we were on the ridgetop, the route then became more apparent. From there, we followed a faint path through the mild, rocky terrain. Meanwhile, I saw Yakima Valley on the east. We would occasionally move to the east of the crest to avoid the wind.

So far, our views included the Oak Creek Wildlife Area below us. Plus, Tieton River Valley through the town of Naches. As we moved higher, the nearby canyons began to take shape. Soon, we were on the main ridge at 4900′ with views of distant peaks.

Yakima Valley
Yakima Valley

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Ridge Walk to Cleman Mountain

The ridge walk ended up taking much longer than I had expected. Four miles to be exact! Also, the ridgeline wasn’t as flat as I had thought. So it was more of a rolling hill walk. We had uninterrupted views of Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and the Stuart Range. But going through this part was unexciting.

The closer we were to the radio tower, the more snow patches. The vegetation grew dense as well. At one point, we even walked through the forest before getting to the top. Half a mile before the summit, I noticed tire tracks and more snow. So we moved closer to the rim and finished the last bit of the hike.

Cleman Mountain miles away
Cleman Mountain miles away

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Cleman Mountain Summit

So far, it has been windy all morning. So despite the warm temperatures, I had my jacket on for the entire outing. Then when we got up to the radio towers, we stayed below the crest on the north side. It was less windy there. The communication towers had fences around them to keep out visitors.

The summit was spacious. I read that one can drive up to the top in a high-clearance vehicle. With the amount of road walk, it would have been more enjoyable to come up by car. We hung out for about an hour and then left the summit. It was 7.5 miles to get back to the car.

The east rim of Cleman Mountain
The east rim of Cleman Mountain

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Outro

The undulating terrain wasn’t feasible for us to make shortcuts. So we hiked four miles back to the other end of the ridgeline, where it began to drop. Then from there, we got back on the south-trending ridge and went down the mountain.

We had sightings of the Bighorn Sheep throughout. A couple of herds saw us when we were going up the mountain. Their color blended into the landscape so perfectly. So the puppy didn’t even notice them until they moved. Then on the way back, many groups of them were running out of one canyon and into the next.

Moving on out
Moving on out

See more trip photos here.

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