Hike Difficulty: difficult
Hike Length: 10.22 mi RT (supposed to be 6)
Elevation Gain: 2500 ft (supposed to be 1750)
Highest Point: 6660 ft
Time: 5 hrs 44 mins
My Rating (out of 5): 4.0 – Rattlesnake Mountain was a hike that I tried to get to a few months ago, but there was a tree down a few miles from the trailhead. This time, I didn’t have any trouble getting to the trailhead (apart from some rough spots in the road that I had to straddle).
Shortly after taking off, I ran into another person that was climbing Rattlesnake for the first time. It was a Kansan that recently moved to Oregon! Grace and I kind of ran ahead of her, so she just followed us as we went a whole mile out of our way. I knew something was wrong because I was supposed to be climbing and it was all flat. Then, Grace caused a stampede with the cattle that had been let in to graze the open pastures and it was a mess. It was only the beginning my navigating nightmare.
When Grace and I ran back to find the right turnoff, we ran into the Kansan (Chelsea?) again. She helped me find the turn, which followed a creek up the mountain. We took turns helping each other find the trail when it disappeared or switched back suddenly. By some miracle, I tracked it all the way to the summit, which was gorgeous and totally worth the frustration with navigating. There were some amazing rock outcroppings that we sat on and took a breather.
On our way back down, the trail was absolutely impossible to find. We got off track again and again and had to slide down a bunch of scree slopes. Finally, I thought I’d found the trail and told her that I was going to run the rest of the way down. Soon after, though, I got lost yet again and found myself sliding down slopes again.
About 15 mins later, I found signs of familiar territory at Windy Gap. I had been calling out t0 see if Kansan girl made it down, but didn’t hear anything back. I spent the next 20 mins running up and down various parts of the trail shouting to see if I would hear a response. I didn’t want to leave her on the mountain all alone, especially when the trail was so difficult to find. Eventually, I booked it back to the car and she had been waiting for a little bit to make sure I got out.
Damn Rattlesnake Mountain. I hiked 4 miles more than I was supposed to on this silly adventure.