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I can definitely say now that Rainbow Ridge is as steep as it looks from the road below. I drove down on Saturday, June 6 with the hope of hiking to the top of Rainbow Mountain. But, there had been a lot of fresh snow the week before above 5000 feet elevation, so I scratched that plan pretty fast. I’m not a big fan of hiking through just a few inches of snow covering loose talus.
There is a platform just below the summit that looked like it was mostly snow-free, so I figured I’d give it a go and see if there’s a good view of the mountain from there. It’s a pretty wild 4000 feet of elevation gain in just under two miles.
There is a saddle just below the summit that looked like it was mostly snow-free, so I figured I’d give it a go and see if there’s a good view of the mountain from there. It’s a pretty wild 4000 feet of elevation gain in just under two miles.
At 5000 feet, I start to get a break from the loose talus to scramble over some solid rock (solid by Alaska Range standards). This is much preferable to me. I like it when the ground doesn’t move beneath my feet. Until this point, much of the hike was “two steps forward, one step back”, except for when the opposite occurred and things got scarier. There was also an abrupt change in temperature, dropping below freezing. Suddenly there was a strong wind and it was snowing too.
I started getting cold and noticed my lack of gloves. My hands stiffened up, it became difficult to operate my camera. Given the icy and snowy conditions, poor rock quality, and loose talus, I decided that I’d rather turn back than risk injury up here.
I took slightly a different route down. It was a bit steeper in places, but the ground was more cohesive than the scree slope. There was a lot more alder work at the bottom, I’m not sure it was worth the secure footing. I hate alders.
Oh. My feet hurt after that. It may have been the most intensive hike I’ve ever done that was less than 5 miles long. After packing up the car, I headed south to fill up with some spring water and chill my feet in the stream for a bit.
The evening light was turning golden. I had to make a few stops along the way to take some photos (and continue chilling my feet in the Delta River). Then I was treated to a wonderful sunset for the entire 3-hour drive home.
More photos from the hike and drive here: https://photos.lwpetersen.com/Date/2015/June/2015-06-06/