9 miles of hiking • 3750' elevation gain •
Great day for this hike. Made the first tracks in new snow from earlier this week. Snow started around 2900. Still pretty deep on top of the Benson Plateau.
We had lunch in a sunny XMas wonderland while trees bombed us as the snow dropped off the branches. Several in our party had done this hike before, but we still wandered around the eerie plateau for awhile before we found the top of the Ruckel Creek Trail.
Wonderful profusion of flowers on moss covered basalt outcroppings of Ruckel Ridge: gold stars, glacier lillies and a robust population of Columbia kittentails. Crowds of chocolate lillies in the vision quest area on Ruckel Creek Trail, but the upper meadows of Ruckel Creek are not in bloom yet.