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.
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.)