We are in another unseasonably warm streak and tomorrow will be hotter. I took a gamble today that the mountains might not get as hot and I was pretty much wrong. Johnson Ridge is still a beautiful hike and it was really hard to decide which photos to share of the probably 60 I took.
We hit the road around 6:30am and drove roughly 2 hours for Johnson's Ridge, a trail I read about on accident while researching another hike. I will admit, I don't hike much of the US 2 wilderness and after dealing with Hwy 203 and US 2 (both 2 lane highways) to get to the hike this morning I was reminded why. I am really spoiled that there is plenty of good hiking much closer to me.
Notice the lack of switch backs. Much of this trail runs ridge line, but the parts that go up or come down do it sharply. Nim is snoring next to me as I type. For a seemingly straightforward trail, I think we are both pooped from this one.
Johnson's Ridge starts on what I am assuming is an old road. It is a steady climb and it is cobble in spots.
Eventually a fair amount of the hike is in old (second?) growth and it really was beautiful. When we started out we had a decent breeze and the sun wasn't too strong. It would have been a great trail to have started in the dark actually just to enjoy the sunrise.
As you can see in the below photo the climb up and descent down of Sunrise Mountain is a straight shot. When you go up, all you can think is you have come back down it, and when you drop down the other side, all you can think is you have to go back up it.
Once we left the old growth we were on exposed ridge and it was absolutely beautiful meadows. The trail is more narrow and sloped. Nim was having a meltdown over all the little birds. This exposed part of the trail would end up being a real beast on the hike back out. It was a very hot part on the hike.
Eventually you get to an unmarked intersection and you can clearly see Joan Lake below you. We decided to go up Scorpion Mountain first.
Such a pretty and open area up there. I think it would be windy at night for camping, but definitely a place that one could camp.
We were getting pretty hot up there and I contemplated cutting Joan Lake entirely as the temperature seemed to suddenly jump, but we were nice and close and at least it was a water source.
Dropping down into Joan Lake I was definitely aware that I was going to have to come back up.
Can you see the tadpoles around Nim? All he could sense was motion. I found it funny that they actually were flocking to him when he would step in the water. This was actually that smaller feeder lake to Joan Lake. Nim went into the water on both.
On the return hike to the car I felt a bit rushed. I knew I had to get us back into the old growth and even then it was still very warm with no breeze but Nim did much better with the protection of the trees. There is no water on this trail aside from Joan Lake and I had a heavy pack full of water for both of us because of this.
Despite being a shorter hike for backpacking, this would be quite a fun area to overnight in. The meadows as you drop towards Joan Lake would be my preference for more protection from the wind. There were signs here and there that people had been camping on both Scorpion and Joan Lake.