Saturday had a threat of rain in the afternoon and weather forecasts indicated that Sunday would bring rain all day. So we made ready early in the morning on Saturday and set off for a hike. I am now 21 weeks pregnant and am really getting used to the body I find myself living in with the added bonus that our little baby boy seems to have shifted and has eased the bad back pain that I had been enduring throughout the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy. So, I agreed to do a hike that had some elevation gain. Bobby has been aching to do Rattlesnake Ledge, a 4 mile hike with 1160 feet of elevation gain.
The trailhead parking was already bustling with activity and it was just after 9:00 a.m. Search and Rescue teams were everywhere and must have been training. Latigo pulled with excitement at the end of the leash as Bobby donned our small daypack, containing rain gear, emergency supplies, water, lunches, and lots of snacks. A bonus to being pregnant is that Bobby carries the pack, since I’m busy carrying something else!
The trail goes through a forest, dripping with moss and is wide and sweeps back and forth along long, meandering switchbacks.
Occasional small streams crossed the trail and provided Latigo with ample water during the day. I handled the steady incline of the trail surprisingly well and was able to maintain a pretty steady pace. After almost 2 miles we reached a trail junction, continuing straight will lead you to the lowest ledge where most hikers go. We veered left making our way for the middle ledge, hoping it would be less popular. We were rewarded with complete solitude as we carefully trekked over some boulders and to the edge of the ledge where views of Chester Morse Lake and the Cascade Mountains around us took our breath away.
There were low hanging clouds that continued to threaten rain, and stayed just high enough to leave us with some pretty impressive views. We ate a rather early lunch, possibly a brunch, of cheese and tomato sandwiches as we watched large groups hike to the lower ledge. Rain began to sprinkle us as we finished up our lunches. We donned our raincoats and began the hike down.
Generally speaking, going down is faster then going up when hiking. However, we found ourselves having to stop and let enormous groups of more then 20 hikers pass, as well as innumerable smaller groups of hikers, making the descent much slower then usual. It is proper trail etiquette for those descending a trail, to move over and let those ascending pass by. Although, no descending hikers moved for us as we ascended, we moved over for at least 75 hikers as we descended. This is an incredibly popular trail, and it was rainy and chilly on the day we were there. We couldn’t imagine how busy it would be on a sunny summer day.
Overall a great hike and a pretty solid challenge for a pregnant lady!
I was pretty exhausted by the time we got back to the car but was still feeling surprisingly good! This is an excellent hike to take kids on, as the distance is short and it’s a pretty cool view at the top where you have the ability to see your car parked below as you gaze out over the ledges. There are tons of dogs on this trail, so we would say that a leash is a must. Our rule of thumb is that on busy trails all dogs should be leashed, not everybody likes dogs and not all dogs like each other. Latigo, unfortunately fell victim to aggressive humping from a lab that didn’t have so much as a collar on and whose owners verbal commands seemed utterly useless. It was infuriating, we couldn’t walk because this dog continually knocked Latigo over so he couldn’t walk, and he did not like it. Proper trail etiquette is incredibly important on these busy trails and we wish more users would respect leave no trace. Litter was a pretty bad problem along this trail. It’s too bad that the easier, more accessible hikes are being disrespected by those that come to use it.