I woke up on July 4th with an infected toe, and blisters that hadn’t healed since Alaska. All signs pointed to skipping a hike, but it had been a whole month since we last hiked in Washington and I was desperate to hit the trail. I longed for sunshine and hills, open views of snowy peaks and the smell of warm pines. Teanaway seemed perfect, so we decided to head to the eastern side of the mountains for a morning hike before an evening bbq.
We chose this route, even knowing the the best time to hike it was about a month ago, when the snow first melts and the wildflowers bloom. The route is also closed to dirt bikers from April to June, which would make for a more peaceful route. Even though we didn’t hit this trail on the perfect day, it was still lovely. Some wildflowers still held on, the top boasted views of Rainier and the Enchantments, it was dry and it was filled with solitude. What more could a girl want?
On the way up
The trail set off as a dusty, red path winding through the trees. It didn’t take long before the trees began to space out, and opened up to patches of light. Crows circled above, cawing dramatically and I answered in song.
The forest turned to open stretches with low shrubs. Remnants of spring wildflowers lay beside the trail. It was clear it would have been impressive a month ago in full bloom, but the abundant green against the rust-colored dirt of the trail was its own type of beautiful. We continued climbing until we reached a four way junction, turning right and continuing up to the Teanaway Ridge. As soon as we turned off the Iron Bear trail, it truly turned into a ridge walk. With gusting wind, it brought the warm temperatures to the perfect hiking weather and we enjoyed walking along the narrow strip.
After winding through more brush and forest, we popped out on an unnamed peak to see spectacular views of Mt. Rainier and the Enchantments, with wildflowers that had not quite finished blooming yet. We soaked in the views, particularly enjoying how a 180 degree turn completely changed the environment we were looking at. To the left, abundant evergreens spread out in a quintessential pacific northwest forest, complete with Mt. Rainier. To the right, patchy brown earth punctuated by scraggly trees lay below striking peaks still sporting snow. It encompassed what I love about both western and eastern Washington.
We could hear dirt bikers bouncing along the trails as we sat, and a few hikers in the distance, but overall, there was a high level of solitude. Looking out to the distance, it was easy to feel like we were the only ones up there.
I took off my hiking boots and enjoyed the freedom of sandals at the top, a welcome reprieve for my blisters. A little yoga to appreciate a summit on a beautiful day was called for. After spending a half hour enjoying the sunshine and views, we headed back down the trail.
It was just as beautiful on the way down as it was up, and the time flew by. Before we knew it, we were back at the car, heading to Seattle for some Fourth of July celebrations.
Traditional Territory of the Pshwanwapam People.
The first inhabitants of the Teanaway River Valley included the Pshwanwapam people, also known as Upper Yakama. Pshwanwapam means stony ground in the Yakama dialect and Teanaway was a summering ground to gather food. The Pashwanwapam people were relocated to the reservations during the 1800’s after the Walla Walla Council and Yakima War of 1855.
Though the Yakama people signed a treaty allowing access to traditional hunting grounds without white settlement, the lack of legal authority in enforcing the treaty and discovery of gold in the region forced local tribes out of the area. Groups traditionally using the Teanaway were involuntarily resettled onto a reservation south of present city Yakima, and other reservations throughout the state.
The Iron Bear-Teanaway Ridge route is now in the Okanogan- Wenatchee National Forest, and became protected as a sheep grazing ground in Washington.