A gorgeous forecast last week and a cancellation of a big meeting at work meant I'd be taking the Friday off. I pondered where to go and enchanting comments on Yana's photos ended us trading emails and me agreeing that StetattleRidge would be a great destination. I've wanted to go for a long time and this was the day.
I set off Thursday night at 8:30 and pulled into Diablo around 10. I pulled off on a dark part of the street near the trail head and curled up in the back of the Subaru to sleep.
Alarm went off at 4:00 am and I was on the trail by 4:20. By 6 I'd hit the National Park line at 4100 and kept on the lookout for the cut off to Stetattleridge between 4200 - 4300. Unfortunately I got lost in thought, I missed the cut off in the dark and wandered up the trail for a bit. Realizing I was at too high of elevation I traced back up and down the trail until I found the cut off. Calling it a trail is too much, even a boot track is too much. It is intermittent at best. I wandered over and off the trail, which isn't much of a concern as long as you keep along the ridge or along the southwest and don't drop down too low or stray too high where the north east ridge gets rocky. As I made my way up the ridge ahead in the fruitloop colored huckleberry bushes a large black bear, when he saw me he bounded up the ridge out of sight. As I broke out of the trees the sun crested the peaks in the far east and the color on the slope lit up in brilliant sun. It was a glorious day to be in the mountains. Occasionally I hit the OK on my SPOT to let my wife know where I was. As I gained the top of the ridge the wonderland of the high alpine opened before me. I wandered among the tarns, meadows and exposed white granite. I could see Elephant Butte in the distance, which is where I was aiming for but the up and down and up and down and up and down of the ridge too more time than I'd estimated. By noon I was at the high point on the ridge, but I'd already been going 7 hours and didn't want to run out of time and day light so I opted for a nice hour long leisurely lunch staring at the Pickets.
Then I retraced my steps. As I crested one of the humps to my surprise I saw an older gentleman sitting on the ridge resting. I hadn't expected to see a soul. We chatted for 15 minutes while he reminiscenced about several trips he taken to the area over the past 25 years. He'd come up to Sourdough Ridge and then hiked across.
Saying goodbyes I went on. I stopped at the large tarn on the forward crest of the ridge, which is the source of Sourdough Creek, and washed off the grime and then started the long descent on the "trail" through the brush. I was quite pleased with the performance of the Motion-X GPS app on the iPhone which allowed me to get my heading several times as I twisted and turned to avoid the brush and trees here or there. The descent was mind and knee numbing, I put on some music to pass the time. Eventually I arrived in Diablo again and washed off again in the "Diablo River" between Diablo Lake and Gorge Lake, changed into clean clothes and jumped in the car. As I drove away it was still warm enough to roll the window down and enjoy the drive home down 20. I couldn't help but smile at a perfect day in the mountains, one of the best I've ever had.
(Mileage 17 miles, elevation 9300, hiking time 12 hours, elapsed time 16 hours)
The Video :
A couple of the data slides :
Why along top of Stettatle Ridge is slow going : up and down
Great video and pics. I guess you get a little break when you backtrack to pick up the camera. I always think if survivorman when I see camera work like this.
A little break and a little more miles
I couldn't help but smile at a perfect day in the mountains, one of the best I've ever had
I love October hiking.
This has been a great start to October so far. Despite the fact its raining today, I just returned from the Enchantments and got lucky on Friday's blue sky!
I had a couple of folks ask about the route, its intermittent for sure, and after having taken it I am not sure that going up Sourdough and heading left (west) at the ridge back to Stetattle isn't just as "fast".
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