“The Ridge”

“While only moderately tall, they ( the Wellsville Mountains) are particularly narrow. For this reason, it is often claimed they are one of the steepest mountain ranges in North America.”  Yes. Yes they are. How do I know this?

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The Wellsville Mountain Range in winter

This summer I finally crossed “The Ridge” off my Bucket List.  I have lived in Cache Valley for nearly 8 years, and the Wellsville Mountain Range, or “The Ridge” has been calling me. I  researched all the information I could find about the “Wellsvilles”, interviewed those I know who have hiked it… and I  even hiked up both sides (the south Rattlesnake Trail, and the north Deep Canyon), but I finally made it to the top, and along the whole ridge– this June.  I have photographed the Wellsvilles more times than I can count, watched the sun rise and set over the peaks, and admired the snowy outline for years. Now, I know where the trail is, where it goes, what it’s like. …I made the 14 + mile trek from end to end.  I ran flights of stairs for weeks, trying to get in shape to climb the “14% average grade” trail. I even ran along the north rim of the Grand Canyon, hoping to get an idea of what it would feel like to run at elevations higher than 8000 feet…and…well, let’s just say I got a good idea.  I dragged my family up Green Canyon, Richard’s Hollow, and the Crimson Trail in an effort to get us all into shape to hike it.  Since my horse accident, I haven’t hiked farther than 12 miles, and that was over rolling slickrock in Canyonlands–not hiking up “stairs” at 9000 feet above sea level. Still, my curiosity wouldn’t allow me to rest until I knew what was up there on the ridge. And guess what? It was even better than I’d hoped and imagined! I simply couldn’t take in enough of the spectacular views and gorgeous flowers. I ended up with over 1200 photos on my camera. It was an epic adventure!

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The range the day before we hiked, covered in clouds and it even rained for almost a full day…we wondered if the trail would even be passable…

The morning of, we woke up to FOG! So as we were traveling to and fro, picking up people and dropping off cars, we had glorious fog to set “the mood”…

While dropping off a car for shuttling purposes, we had to snag a few photos of the valley fog.  Here we are (below) at the Deep Canyon Trailhead, at about 6:45am. Talk about wow.

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The Wellsvilles, with the fog dispersing and the peaks in view…I may or may not have been giddy at this point…

We then drove around to the south end, located up Sardine Canyon.  Below:  Climbing the Rattlesnake (aka “The Ascension”) …fyi–there are no switchbacks. The trail simply wiggles up the mountain…in a very “efficient” way, climbing to the ridge in about 3.5 miles. In other words, I have never hiked anything so brutally steep. Even the Grand Canyon wasn’t this steep. There may or may not have been tears. And dirty looks thrown my way because “whose idea was this, anyway?!” 🙂

 

Below:  The first view from the ridge….and from here about a mile more to the top…

 

 

The Summit! Box Elder Peak. And a real live (though cold-ish) rattlesnake!

 

From Box Elder (9,372′ ) peak, we traversed the ridge around the Wellsville Cone (second highest peak on the range at 9,356′), then down the face of it. Yes, the face. The first real switchbacks of the trail yet, for which I was ridiculously grateful…

 

The long haul across the ridge…with wonderful clouds and jaw-dropping views!

The top of the descent ( aka “The Descension”)….Deep Canyon.  “Into the Deep”…

Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? During the hike, I doubted I would– but only two days later, still feeling stiff…I remembered there are two more trails that lead up to the ridge that I haven’t done…and sometimes, you just gotta KNOW, ya know? So who wants to join me?

 

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