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Bluebird
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PostTue Jun 30, 2020 11:09 am 
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We went through several ideas and settled on Ruby, which for some reason has always ended up 2nd or 3rd choice for me. The views deserve to be better than 2nd/3rd choice, but I suppose you don't know that until you go!

After a stop in Marblemount for a Ruby CC zone permit, we hiked the abandoned trail from 4th of July Pass. Plenty of people on the trail between Thunder Creek TH and the pass, even on a Thursday afternoon leaving the TH at 2:45pm... Great social distancing and most had a face covering available. The abandoned trail wasn't particularly hard to follow, but from 4700-5100 there are some annoying blowdowns... lots of em. In some areas the trail dives into what looks like forest, but you can always see tread below so it we had zero navigation challenges.

Snow level started around 6,000 and was intermittent to the summit. The snow in the forest was rather firm and I slid down one slow lump in my trail runners so reluctantly changed to boots for the rest of the ascent. In the meadows there were an abundance of glacier lilies and lewisia, many growing directly in the path. The path either peters out, or was under snow at a certain point but it's obvious where to go, up. I decided to kick steps in the snow wherever possible to avoid trampling the flower show. The final 600+ gain was a nice big snowfield perfect for step kicking. Light on the surrounding mountains was beautiful. We reached the ridge and trended left over a false summit and found a beautiful melted out bivy site-- guess I carried the tent for no reason biggrin.gif

We dropped gear and headed to the true summit, 5.5 hours after leaving the TH and in perfect time for evening light on the mountains. The skies were clear and our views incredible. I played my favorite: Name that Peak in every direction from the Pasayten to a faint row of peaks beyond Bacon and Crowder/Pioneer Ridge. I can't name anything in Canada though biggrin.gif (ha ha, sorry Canada). We found a register box at the radio tower thing on the summit and signed as the second party of the year. The previous party was 3 days before us, we could see their faint tracks in the snow leading to the summit, so it appears they took the winter route, which looks currently like a buckwhack down low and all snowfields once in the basins closer to the summit. Kitya told me that Ruby is in the Ross Lake Recreation Area, so this is why there is a summit register here. Ed Kenney taught me that there was a proposed tram to the summit so visitors could see the views, it didn't happen... but wow, those views! It would have been a very popular attraction.

It was a little breezy at night and my 38f quilt was marginal for me but it was a really beautiful night and worth a little wind on my face. Slept in a little and lazily headed out around 9am the next morning, down time was about 4 hours. We wondered if the snowfields would be firm in the morning, but they were not-- so we carried crampons and axes without needing them.

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kitya
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PostTue Jun 30, 2020 12:01 pm 
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Bluebird wrote:

I heard a legend if you come late in autumn to the same place where Allotropa virgata grows, you might find matsutake mushroom. Wikipedia says it is true.

https://web.archive.org/web/20070808090307/http://matsiman.com/allotropa.htm

it appears it exclusively grows only where matsutake mycelia exists, so it definitely confirms the presence of matsutake mycelia. unfortunately it doesn't really confirm if matsutake will fruit there or not.

"Allotropa, candy cane, is a parasite which indicates Matsutake mycelia. It feeds on the mycelia, taking the nutrients it needs. The mycelia must be present if the "plant" is. Allotropa has been noted with all host trees wherever Matsutake grows in the Pacific Northwest.

It is rare to find mushrooms among allotropa. Fruiting area associated is within 5 to 15 Ft.

Allotropa growth begins in early spring as temperatures warm. Young Allotropa resembles asparagus with no color, or a pink tint.

The maturing plant is red and white striped. This stage is reached in mid June to early September. A mature plant has tiny white flowers with a red center. Height is 3 inches to 3 feet.

The bright color and size allow them to be detected at a distance. It is common to find only stalks due to animal browsing.

Dead allotrope is dark brown. It may stand in place for up to 3 years. Winter rains beat them down making them difficult to see at times.

Dead or alive they indicate Matsutake.

Allotropa can also introduce new harvesters to the smell of Matsutake. Directly under allotropa is Matsutake mycelia. It will be white or have a bluish tint. (Tint due to active mycelia breaking down soils into available nutrients.)  Remove a small portion and smell. The smell may vary slightly depending on moisture and time of year. The mushroom body is composed of the same material as the mycelia. Thus the same smell. Gills are the only specialized portion.

Allotropa is not an indicator of fall fruiting."
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Nancyann
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PostTue Jun 30, 2020 8:34 pm 
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Thanks for the trip report and beautiful pictures. We saw that abandoned trail sign last week and wondered where it went. Iím curious why it was abandoned, as it sounds like a very nice overnight destination!
Also, thank you Kitya for the interesting information on Allotropa (Candy Cane).
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Brushbuffalo
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Location: there earlier, here now, somewhere later... Bellingham in between
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PostFri Jul 03, 2020 7:09 am 
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Nancyann wrote:
We saw that abandoned trail sign last week and wondered where it went. Iím curious why it was abandoned

I'm curious why that trail was ever made. It didn't go to a fire lookout and there is no mining exploration evident.
I used the trail in around 1986 also for a summit bivy and the upper parts were a bit of a thrash in mid- summer, sans snow.
The plan to build a tram to the summit was highly controversial as you can imagine, along with the even greater and much longer heated war about raising Ross Dam 122.5 feet. Both proposals have been long dead.

--------------
Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Bluebird
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PostFri Jul 03, 2020 7:54 am 
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i read somewhere that the the ruby mountain trail had always been an unofficial bootpath. btw: its still a bit bashy in places esp around 6000 elevation 😂
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abkoch3
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PostFri Jul 03, 2020 9:18 am 
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This is one of my personal favorites despite that nasty stretch of jack straw. I did a solo overnight up there last fall and had the pleasure of recreating my own 'Blueberries for Sal' moment. Fantastic pics!
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