Ascent of Ray Ridge on 2014-08-31

Climber: James Barlow

Date:Sunday, August 31, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Ray Ridge
    Elevation:6180 ft / 1883 m

Ascent Trip Report

The initial plan for the day was to first hike Oregon Butte, then head back to the trailhead and drive over to Lewis Pk (Walla Walla CoHP) and hike the 10 mi route from the Forest Service side of the mountain (east side). Ran into Ray at the Teepee Spring TH, a local old-timer who spends almost all of his time in the Blue Mountains. Started up the trail at 8:36am, topping out on Oregon Butte at 10:04am and passing over West Butte on the ascent. At the lookout site, met Julie and then Luke. Julie is the Forest Service lookout ranger and Luke is a local hunting guide. Between the two of them, they know every nook and cranny of these mountains. Chatted with them for quite a while. Luke spends a few months a year just in the Blue Mountains, tracking game and exploring the canyons and ridges of this range, whether it is on snowshoe, hiking with a client, or trail running. He also knew a Marine Corps Scout Sniper that I worked with when I was a Corpsman at Scout Sniper School at Camp Pendleton about 12 years ago - small world! They both suggested the hike over to Diamond Peak for the Garfield CoHP instead of driving to Lewis. Sniffing some cells to color in on the CoHP map, the decision was made to take their advice, leaving the Oregon Butte fire lookout at 11:22am. I thumbed through the lookout log and saw a few familiar names: John Vitz, Dean Molen, and Edward Earl. Probably more notable peakbaggers in there, but I just skimmed a few pages. The estimate was 4 hours over to Diamond and 4 back, which would be a return to the TH around sunset. I had 2 days worth of lunches in my pack along with a headlamp. A hike is more enjoyable than car time!

The trail is relatively flat from below Table Camp to Diamond Peak, though all the up and down throughout the day added up to 4,000 ft (per my GPS) in addition to the straightforward 1300 ft from the TH over West Butte to Oregon Butte. Lunch was somewhere along this stretch in a beautiful open meadow. After lunch - onward to Diamond Peak via West Diamond Peak, both of which are contenders for the CoHP! There is a red can register on Diamond Peak, placed by Richard Carey, another familiar name from peakbagger. I thought that Mt Misery was a CoHP contender as well, so I headed over to that peak as well. Each additional peak that I set my sights on, I convinced myself that "well, I am already here, may as well go 1/2/3/etc more miles to the next CoHP bump." From the summits of Mt Misery, I headed down towards the spring near the road in search of more water. I was down to about half a liter. Finding the spring muddy and contaminated by cows (and their shit), I figured that we would hit up the campers at Misery campground for water on the way to Ray Ridge. Luck was on our side - 4 hunters camped at one of the sites were very friendly and had plenty to spare. After topping off the bottles it was onward to Ray Ridge, the Asotin CoHP. At this point, the math caused a little bit of despondency: 19-20 miles back to the car and it was now 6:30pm. Not my finest moment of planning in the mountains...

As darkness fell, the stars began to be more noticeable. Fatigue also set in. The night was cool, but not cold. The trail was deserted and the occasional stop to stargaze was quite nice. A stop for a snack near Dunlap Spring was the last break before climbing past Emergency Spring for the final descent to the car, passing around West Butte instead of over it. While severely mis-judging the amount of time it would take to make the full hike, I can happily say that these peaks were truly earned, as I am sure most folks have only done the drive-up route for both. It was also my longest single day hike ever (though I have had longer mileage days with the assistance of a mountain bike).

If you are a hunter (which I am not), and wish to hunt in the Blue Mountains, I highly recommend that you look into Luke. I didn't catch his last name, but he is sponsored by Sitka (some kind of hunting company), and is based out of Yakima. You should be able to google his business. He is a really cool dude, trail runner, respectful of nature, and a supporter of the wilderness area here in the Blue Mountains.

39.2 miles (my longest day hike to date)
17 hrs 29 min car-to-car
2.8 mph avg moving speed
Summary Total Data
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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