Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grape Mountain Kayak/Hike

Last Spring, I intended to kayak across Arrowrock Reservoir and hike Grape Mountain. However, shortly after leaving shore I discovered my kayak was leaking and aborted the trip (I ended up hiking Shaw Mountain). Within a week I had repaired the kayak but I never returned to the peak - until this past Saturday!

I got a late start (shocking for me, I know) but I was on the water around noon. The water was a little choppy due to wind but it was nothing my fine craft couldn't handle. The constant splashing did provide extra motivation to paddle faster! Within a short time I had reached the far shore, but in a rocky, steep area which was kind of annoying to "de-kayak" in. After some scouting, I moved the kayak into a sandier spot downriver and cached the kayak in some conveniently placed deadfall.

From the cache spot, I embarked on a brisk hike up the steep lower aspects of the peak's southwest ridge. Immediately I noticed the arrowleaf balsamroot was flowering on the lower slopes - another sign of Spring! Below the ridge top, I spotted a half dozen elk grazing - however upon hitting the ridge their numbers were actually at least two dozen. Certainly the most elk I've spooked at once! Besides the elk, I later managed to spot blue grouse, chukar, and even a blue heron on the day.

Once on the ridge top, the hike became much gentler and a very pleasant ridgewalk up to the summit. Views were great and aside from the roads near the summit, this area seems to get very little use. The summit itself I had visited in 2007 (via a different route from the east) and I got to sign the summit register again. Due to wind and my late arrival, I didn't stay too long on top.

I descended via a different ridge (west ridge) which was much more shorter but also much steeper. The last few hundred feet above the reservoir were actually kind of obnoxious... steep, sandy, and loose. From the reservoir I worked my way over to the kayak so I could complete the round trip. Thankfully the kayak was in top shape and makes me want to find more peaks which I can hike in this manner!

Trip statistics: 1 mile kayaked, 8 miles hiked, 3150' elevation gain, 5.25 hours

Grape Mountain Pictures!

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