*Training backpack with new gear*

On June 9th I drove down to Dayton, WA with a plan to hike into the Wenaha river via the Grizzly Bear ridge trail and back out along Slick Ear creek. Because of snow covered roads, that didn’t happen. However, while driving out of the National Forest heading back to Dayton I noticed a trail head sign and thought I’d check it out. It was the Middle Point trail, which I knew nothing about, and it headed down the Touchet river for a little way before starting the climb up the Middle Point ridge. And I do mean UP! Every time I thought I’d topped out, there was another higher point ahead. When I did finally reach the high point on the ridge I was rewarded with great views of the Wenaha/Tucannon wilderness to the South, the Touchet  and Snake river drainages to the North, and several Elk grazing on this Spring’s fresh groundcover.

By late afternoon I’d made it all the way to the Godman Guard Station and campground (11 miles?) and chatted with a couple of guys up there for the Spring bear season. Since I was out there in part to try out some new gear, I headed back to the Middle Point ridge in search of a place to hang the new hammock system (photo). This was my first trip sleeping in a hammock and, although I’d researched and though I was prepared, I was a bit nervous about being cold during the night. After a nice dinner of spaghetti and a glass of wine prepared in a kitchen with a spectacular view (photo), I hung up the food bag and retired for the night.

I should mention that during the afternoon the weather had ranged from a light rain to hail and even a brief snow flurry during dinner. Once tucked into the hammock, it continued to rain and the wind kicked up on and off through the night but I slept well, warm, and more comfortable than I would have been on the ground. One of the advantages was that I could hang the hammock downslope from the ridge top and avoid the constant battering of wind against a tent wall.  So I’ll continue to use the hammock system for future trips.

The next morning, after coffee and a cold breakfast, I headed back down the ridge hoping to get back to Dayton to fish the Touchet before driving back to Spokane. As you might expect, that long downhill hike didn’t do my knees any favors and I kicked myself for forgetting my trekking poles. All things considered though, it was a great trip and I was glad that my original plan had failed because of the snow. Looking at maps of the area, I would have never considered the Middle Point trail and would have missed some epic views and a nice solitary experience.

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