About Me

My photo
Just a meandering soul sharing my backyard. Visit my Flickr page too! www.flickr.com/photos/meanderingwa/

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Waterworks Canyon

Early last Sunday I left The Dalles and headed for Yakima.  I found a series of caches placed in a canyon west of town which would take me to someplace new.  I had never heard of Waterworks Canyon .  This is just the thing I had hoped Geocaching could do for me, take me to new and different areas.

The trail head is just past the junction where Hwy 12 and 410 split on their way to Mt Rainier and the trail climbs Waterworks Canyon up into the Oak Creek Wildlife Management Area.  I was happy to find early blooming Balsamroot.  There are always bugs in the Balsamroots and yet again, the olive drab spotted bugs were here in abundance.  I have still not been able to find the name of these bugs, but they are everywhere in the Balsamroots.

Low in the canyon the slope is softly edged and grassy.  They is a noisy creek that the trail follows and today it is sunny and absolutely windless.  A fine change from the day before.

It is early in the blooming season yet, but I did find a few violets and some pretty vetch.  Got another happy bug photo, too!

Further along, Mertensia bluebells were just getting started.  There are several types that grow in the state, I believe these are long flowered , longiflora

The placer of many of the caches along this trail made sure to point out areas of interest and things that might be seen.  He warned about rattlesnakes and I made sure when reaching into holes and rock piles to use a poking stick to rouse a snake that might have slept in.

I didn't see a single slithery thing except a Horned Toad.  Better luck next time, I guess.

But at the box called "A Good Place To Rest" I did spy some gems.  He mentioned that seeing Big Horned Sheep was possible and sure enough, high on the ridge line I saw one, then two then more and more.

Across the canyon I saw deer, equally high up.

The way continued up and the land form transitioned from soft rolly slope to sharp volcanic stone.  There were some stone arches and many spires.  Footing was sometimes rubble with pumice and other rock types

One cache was hidden in a ledge in a rock wall.  It required a little climb up.  All the stone here is covered in lichens.

I can imagine a native hunter spending a safe night in this alcove.

One fun discovery along the way was Chukar.  These game birds are reluctant to fly and usually run away.  If you are lucky they will make a small gabbling type sound and you can spot them, otherwise they blend in pretty well.  Poor Chukar, they are not the brightest of birds and often then will fly down a hill then walk back up.

Can you spot him there in the rocks at the bottom?

About half way along the trail someone had placed a box high on a ridge than branched off from the canyon.  As this is fine open country, you do not really need a trail and I decided to try a bee-line navigation straight up the ridge.  It was a good solid workout and just the thing I need.  The view down to the canyon floor was pretty impressive.  It is hard to appreciate it here, but those trees along the creek are actually pretty tall.  This was a good solid 1000+ feet up.

I followed a lot of hoof prints figuring the sheep and deer likely knew the best footing and the easiest way.  They were pretty correct.  When I got to the top I saw where the canyon trail actually rose to parallel the slope, so I could have gained some elevation a little easier by following the trail further before attacking the slope.  Ah well that is hindsight, I guess.

I trekked to the end of the line.  From there I could see that you could simply climb out of the canyon and camp on top of the plateau.

It was a fine hike.  I met one other couple along the way and they went as far as I did, reluctant to proceed up the final slope without a trial.

What a great end to the weekend.  As I descended the sun started to make its presence known.  This dry area always feels extra warm and when I hike over in this area I always like to finish before the blazing heat of 2pm.  These little lenticular clouds are not going to help block the sun.

A great little hike.  A little excitement as I attacked that tough slope.  A little challenge of navigating some tricky rocky places.  Fun animal sightings, some pretty flowers and even some bugs.

I evicted a tick, found walking along my steering wheel.  Clearly it climbed from my arm and I am sure the good people of Ellensburg will not mind that I ejected this freeloader on the freeway interchange.

I still feel a little creepy crawly.


  1. Only you would call t"a little hike." Interesting as always to sit here comfortably and follow you along. Maybe those bird feel a need for exercise, walking up the hills. I have had a wonderful experience with observing Big Horn Sheep in Wyoming in the rutting season. An unforgettable experience.

  2. Missed this post somehow or other - beautiful country and excellent photos, Marti. Looks like another "must see" place. We are headed for Rainier Friday and then on to Yelm for the WaNOS hike. Understand that Longmire to Paradise is open and we shall have to be satisfied with that.