Sunday, February 12, 2012

Kennewick's Mountain

My views from above the Columbia Basin inversion posted a couple days ago above-inversion-in-columbia-basin were from Jump-Off-Joe. Many Washington communities have their mountain. For Seattle and Tacoma it is Mount Rainier. For the lower Skagit Valley and western Whatcom County it is Mount Baker. Spokane has Mount Spokane, Yakima has Mount Adams. Kennewick has Jump-Off-Joe. Jump-Off-Joe is the high point on the horizon south of Kennewick. It is high enough that it may be covered with snow when no snow is present in town and its height means it gets a bit more snow and rain than Kennewick. It is Kennewick's mountain, except that it isn't. It is just Jump-Off-Joe without any hill or butte or mountain modifier.

Jump-Off-Joe from base of power line route

At 2,200 feet Jump-Off-Joe is the highest point in 50 miles. Hence, the summit is lined with communication equipment. The summit has line of site views deep into eastern Washington, up the Yakima and Walla Walla River valleys as well as down the Columbia River to the gorge area. The summit is just a bit under 1,900 feet higher than downtown Kennewick. Perhaps nothing to brag about, but I will say this: the last 1,000 feet is very steep. Billy and I headed up there to enjoy the sun above the inversion layer and hiked down the steep face and back up along the power line road. 900 feet of elevation gain in a bit more than a half mile. I remembered why running the entire route to the summit along this road was never done when the steepest section always caused me to walk even when I was in top running condition.

Jump-Off-Joe with its steep northern facing slope is typical of much of the Horse Heaven Hills and the rest of the Yakima Fold Belt with gradual south facing slopes and sharp drops facing the north. Billy and I got to feel that steep slope in our calf muscles and quadriceps. Jump-Off-Joe may not rank the term mountain, but it is Kennewick's Mountain, and walking or trying to run its north face will give one's legs a feeling of having been on a mountain slope regardless of the lack of USGS designation. I will add a fair number of USGS topographic map designated mountains in the area are substantially lower.   

1 comment:

Doug Clark said...

Nice Dan...I'll have to keep my eye out for it next trip out Kennewick way. At first I thought you were referring to the Jump-off Joe down in Oregon: