Friday, March 5, 2010

A Monday Morning Hike

With no pressing duties on the farm, it was finally time to go and explore our Majesty's hinterland. Just a few steps out the door and I was already on Crown Land rapidly climbing in elevation towards a destination I have been wanting to climb for over a year - Fountain Ridge.

This ridge is more entertaining than NBC's Thursday night Must See TV. Seriously, I would prefer to watch the ridge for half an hour than an episode of 30 Rock any day! There's just so much going on up there. For starters, its a magnet for raptors. Ravens use the steep precipice a place of worship, congregating there at sundown on random summer evenings. At least two pairs of red-tailed hawks have hooked up and are nesting on its slopes. Bald Eagles are often seen harassing these Red-tails for no good reason. Did I mention Golden Eagles, the Schwarzenegger of raptors!? Yup, there is one hanging out here, too. And at night, Great-horned and Barred Owls can be heard hooting their familiar calls half way up the slope.

Fountain Ridge has been tempting me for over a year. While taking a break to stretch my back or take a breather from the monotonous tasks of a hopyard, I often look up at the ridge and think, "I need to get up there". Well, I finally did. With just a backpack, a few granola bars, water, binoculars, camera, and cell phone (its GPS allows me to see my current position on Google maps - very cool) I managed to reach the top in 2.5 hours with plenty of stops. Its amazing what 2000 vertical feet will do to a view! My first impression was: Lillooet looks infinitely more cool from up here. I was also able to get a bird's eye view of our hop farm and scout out where we could put in the next few acres of hops.

Despite the brilliant February sun, it didn't take too long before a chill came over me. So after taking a quick call from my sister and answering a few emails on my new smartphone (just for novelty sake), I headed back down. My descent was expedited with the help of a massive scree slope extending from the ridge top. I tried to imagine the scree was Whistler powder and my boot soles had skis attached to them and slid to its base in a mere 20 minutes. That was fun!

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