Winter Walk over Ranger Hill

Back to West Bragg! On a Friday afternoon we hiked the Ranger Hill Loop clockwise, i.e. Boundary Ridge and Strange Brew to the summit and Ranger Summit trail back down. It would be our first time doing the loop using the new trails in their entirety. No more flogging along Crystal Line and Loggers Loop. Yeah! Getting out of the car, we had the usual discussion on whether or not to carry snowshoes based on what we could see from the parking lot. We decided not to and hoped there would be a hard-beaten trail all around the loop, which proved to be the case.

Ranger Hill Loop

Low down, the new section of Boundary Ridge was an ice ribbon which I largely avoided by walking off trail on the grass. (I seem to losing spikes on my traction devices at an alarming rate. If anyone reading this wants to start a discussion on the various devices and their relative merits, please do so!). Snow gradually increased in open areas as we hit Strange Brew,  but it was only between the lower east  summit and Ranger Hill that we ran into snow fit for snowshoeing. Oddly, there was no snow at all at the summit rock seats—which have now multiplied to four.

Before anyone bikes these two trails, four trees need to be removed. The largest one, located  just below the lower summit  on Strange Brew, has fallen lengthwise along the trail, and judging by the confusion of footprints, has people looking in all directions for the continuation of the trail (It goes uphill under the tree, then left).

Ranger Summit trail had much more snow, especially  on the north slope of the hill where you make that long descending traverse to the viewpoint. Going off trail while circumventing a fallen tree, we were calf-deep in the stuff. But just as suddenly it was back to ice and dirt. The last two legs cut across Logger’s Loop and Sundog ski trails to Crystal Line, and offer pleasant going along the bank top of a side creek. Again, it was noticeable that wherever the trail crept into the cutblocks there was snow. It was here we passed two snowshoers doggedly clacking along on the ice. I still think it was faster to walk.

Distance 10 km from the middle of West Bragg parking lot. Height gain ~366 m (1200 ft.)

Ranger Hill map


6 comments… add one
  • Rachel Apr 4, 2012, 11:00 am

    My first posts didn’t want to show, but now that it is allowing me, I’d like to add another vote to the Kahtoola microspikes. Mine are about 5 years old, and have been used over all sorts of hiking and scrambling terrain, on sheer ice and in deep snow. They look nearly new, work awesome, and never so much as slip. I don’t think anything else compares.
    I would use yaktrax for a walk to work on a slippery sidewalk, and stabilicers for a flat walk in grotto canyon, but I think the microspikes blow everything else away for mountain use.

  • thepassionatehiker Mar 25, 2012, 6:44 am

    Did the circuit Sat. morning and it was snowshoes the whole way round thanks to the recent snowfall. Stunning views and a perfect cloudless morning. This is a very enjoyable circuit. Your tip about how to get around the tree lying on the trail was helpful – I could see why there might have been some confusion there.

  • Annette Mar 23, 2012, 5:54 am

    I was gifted a pair of Kahtoolas – available at MEC – and have hiked icy trails all winter with more confidence that I’ve had in years. They do not fall off, and even runners use them!

  • thepassionatehiker Mar 20, 2012, 6:02 pm

    The good thing about MICROspikes is how easy they are to put on, with one hand, just get the toe in and stretch the device over the boot and off you go. And they stay on very nicely, without really needing to adjust them, and no straps or ties.

    Perhaps I should go into the cleat-selling business!!

  • Gillean Daffern Mar 20, 2012, 11:35 am

    Tony wears STABILicers Lite Cleats and finds them good, though they tend to slip off. He ties them on with string! I think the newest version has a strap.

  • thepassionatehiker Mar 19, 2012, 7:10 pm

    In answer to your challenge! My MICROspikes have revolutionized my outdoor life. They seem to be fairly sturdy but it’s a good idea to have a pair of strong pliers handy to reconnect things when they come loose (which is not frequent). They allow me to stride confidently down icy trails, and even slippery wet summer trails too. One of my hiking buddies swears by his YakTraks, but its MICROspikes for me. Can’t imagine how I survived all these years without them (including several highly dangerous ice-covered Scottish peaks many decades ago). Luckily I lived to discover a better way!

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