It had been a very hot week in Central Washington with temperatures rising to 102 degrees for my first three hikes.
Oh boy did things change for my next hike. There was rain on my car in the morning and a heavy cloud cover.
My goal was the summit of McNeil Peak in the William O. Douglas Wilderness. The Peak is one of the highest points in the eastern portion of the Wilderness, providing great 360-degree views.
After driving to the trailhead north of Rimrock Lake, I was smart enough to put a light raincoat in the daypack.
The hike began with a steep climb to the top of Russell Ridge. Soon it began to rain and did not let up until I had followed the top of the Ridge for several miles. Finally I was rewarded with some nice views of the Goat Rocks.
After dipping down through some lush meadows, the trail switchbacked steeply to a saddle. After taking a well-earned break, I did the final scramble up to the top of 6,658-foot McNeil Peak.
Other than 7,766-foot Mt. Aix, I’ve summitted McNeil Peak more than any other mountain in the William O. Douglas Wilderness. Both are great hikes and offer some of the most spectacular scenery in the Lower 48.
Only about two miles into my return trip, it began raining again. And, heavy thunder and lightning had begun to the southwest.
One never knows what the weather will be like in the high country. Always be prepared.