I hope you had a great weekend. This past weekend we climbed Prairie Mountain. I am a bit sentimental about this hike since it was the first hike Charlotte and I did together about 8 years ago now in May of 2013. I was not in great shape when we did it and was thoroughly wiped out by the end of it. Since then I have been determined to do it again and not let it kill me as much as it did then.
8 years later, we finally got the chance to do it again. This time Charlotte's brother Nick, his two year old son Lexton and my sister Sasha joined us. My sister, having had her own poor experiences on the mountain previously was also trying to prove that things had changed.
We left the city at about 10.30 in the morning. The sun was high in the sky and the day promised to be a fine one. We reached the Elbow Falls parking lot at around 11.30.
The trail-head is actually across Highway 66 from the parking lot. At the moment Highway 66 is closed on the far side of the Elbow Falls recreation area parking lot turn off but I believe it opens in mid-May. There are quite a few pathways to start the hike, we walked past the Highway 66 gate and right before you reach the bridge, we turned left and there is a pathway. That pathway starts out pretty steep, you end up going up stairs almost, however it also quickly flattens out which makes things easier. The trail for the first half was decently flat, albeit quite snow covered at this time of the year still. Things got really interesting in the second half where most of the elevation gain is. This year there have been a number of melting periods and the trail in the second half had a lot of areas covered in ice and then covered over with more snow from late last week. I definitely recommend using ice spikes for your shoes and hiking poles if you can. I have three types of ice spikes, microspikes, a larger set where the spikes are bolts that grip into the ice and a third pair where the spikes are large metal triangles that could be a weapon if one so desired. Sash used my weapon spikes since she has sprained her ankle more times than not sadly. I took my medium spikes and the way up was relatively easy. There was only one area where the mountain was exceptionally steep and the ice below the snow made things a little treacherous.
We eventually made it to the top and let me tell you the views were spectacular. Once you leave the tree line there is still a little way to go to reach the flag at the peak. Another word of caution is to take a windbreaker with you. The wind at the top is unbelievable. Apparently the flag is blown away every couple of weeks. Someone might want to start investing in biodegradable flags maybe.
I was able to get some great shots as you can see below. We then left the peak and decided to have lunch sitting on a log just above the exit from the main forest of trees. Judging by the amount of wear on the trees, we weren't the only people to have that idea and the tree has seen more than it's fair share of derrière. (I hope you liked my poem). Once we left the flag, I spotted a cliff in the distance and ended up being fascinated by it while leaving the peak and having our lunch. I felt compelled to get a picture and I am very glad I did, even if I had to make everyone wait for me while I put my camera lens away. For pure beauty, I am very proud of how well the picture turned out and I think it might be the best shot I have taken this year so far.
As we left the peak, a fair bit later in the day, the snow on the way down had become a lot softer. this made the descent a bit more difficult and even though I had my medium spikes on, I still ended up sliding about 30 - 40 feet down a particularly slippery section.
So, what did I think of the hike? I thought it was great, beautiful views for me to get some shots I am quite proud of but also hard enough to make me feel like I accomplished something at the end of the day.
What would I do differently? Probably go a bit later on in the year when there is less ice and snow on the trail. In fact the group has already decided and agreed that we will do the hike again around Aug or so. This should make the ascent and descent a bit less treacherous.
Final verdict? I definitely recommend this hike, probably not as a first hike but the views allow for great photos as you are the highest mountain in the near vicinity.
Have you done this particular hike? If so what did you think of it?
I hope you have a great week ahead of you. Remember, do it #InTheNameOfAdventure.