An Article from Aaron's Article ArchiveOn Top of Washington Dome
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On Top of Washington Dome
Saturday, 26 February 2005 8:16 PM MST
Astounding Adventures, Yakkity Yak
You don't know how grateful I was for the telephone call from my little brother was this afternoon. The afternoon was waring on and I had not been outside once, and it was a beautiful day. I was dying for an excuse to go for a short hike, to get outdoors, to do anything. His call was perfectly timed. I told him to come on over to my house and meet me, then we'd go grab a bite to eat and go for a hike somewhere. Neither of us had any definite ideas.
Yesterday I stumbled across the web site of the Outback Hiking Club of Southern Utah when one of their members posted a cache find to my Shinob Kibe Cache. Exploring their web site made me want to go hiking more and more. I think I'll have to investigate this group. I'd love to renew my acquaintance with the outdoors and hiking that I've neglected this past year.
As you may surmise, I haven't been hiking or cache hunting much recently, and I miss it, I long for it, and my out-of-shape body wishes I'd do more of it.
As soon as my brother arrived, we jumped into my car and started driving. We decided to go for a hike first, then get something to eat. The weather was gorgeous, cool with a mild breeze, the landscape fresh from recent rains, Pine Valley Mountain to the north bedecked in fresh snow, and the sky was hung with scattered white cloud sculptures. I figured we'd head south, out into the Washington fields, and see where the road took us.
We drove into Washington, then turned south, crossed the Virgin River and continued past the explosion of new housing developments in the valley to either side of the road below Shinob Kibe. We followed the road as it curved around Nichols Peak, expressing mutual amazement at the number of new homes in the area along the base of Washington Dome, slowly encroaching into the green alfalfa fields that were particularly beautiful on this day.
On a whim, I turned eastward on a road leading into one of these new subdivisions, and wound through it, then parked in a cul de sac at the foot of Washington Dome, where there were several empty housing lots. This looked like as good a place as any to take off up into the hills, to start a random hike and explore Washington Dome.
Now I've gazed at the hills around this area many times, and hiked up Shinob Kibe and placed a cache there. But I've never hiked to the top of Washington Dome, a mile-long ridge that stretches diagonally from the northeast to the southwest, a mostly light gray hill that sits between Shinob Kibe and the Virgin River to the north and Warner Ridge to the south. According to my topographical map, Washington Dome about the same height in elevation as Shinob Kibe, which reaches 3306 feet elevation, and it is about 170 feet shorter than the highest point on the nearby Warner Ridge. The dome's name is a fairly good description of the shape of the hill, for the ridge has a rounded, squat appearance.
We began our trek by winding our way in an east-by-northeasterly direction up along the bottom of the wash between the dome and a smaller hill at the southern base. Then we turned north and headed up the ridge to the southwesternmost summit of Washington Dome at 3202 feet elevation (at least according to my USGS topographical map). Once atop, we turned northeastward again and followed the top of the ridge, following it as it dipped down 90 feet or so in height, then climbed back up to an even higher elevation. After the dip, the ridge top was more even in elevation, so the hike was almost like hiking on nearly-level ground. The ridge after the dip continues gradually upwards in the northeasterly direction for almost a mile, to a maximum summit of just over 3300 feet elevation.
We returned following the same cattle trail along the ridge until the southwesternmost summit, where instead of turning south, continued along the cattle trail following the ridge line southwestward. Eventually we had to abandon the trail and head on down the slope to the bottom of the wash, then back up to the cul de sac where my car was parked.
It was a fun, short little hike, and probably about right for my out-of-shapeness. I estimate we probably hiked a round-trip total of around three-and-a-quarter miles, ascending about 550 feet during the hike, probably closer to 600 counting all the up-and-down stuff we did.
While atop the ridge, we had a stunning view of the verdant fields below to the west, of Pine Valley Mountain, of the cities/towns of St. George and Washington. The St. George Utah Temple stood out, standing stately and white, visible over the Middleton Black Ridge. At some points we figured we were exactly due east of the temple.
As we were returning, the low afternoon sunlight glistened of the homes of St. George and Washington, and off the myriad of rainwater puddles below us. With the green Washington Fields backlit, the low clouds, and the leafless trees casting their shadows on the green grass below, it was stunning. Wow.
Thanks for a fun hike, O brother of mine!