With many breaks to keep the aerobic level moderate (and for many pictures and chats), we reached the summit of Blueberry (unfortunately, no blueberries were in season today). From here, it was an easy walk along level ground to the 'bare spot' -- a large area of bare bedrock just to the west of Blueberry's summit. We stopped for a good snack break here. Although the day was glorious, it was actually a little breezy and chilly here.
There's a very neat big glacial erratic in the middle of this open expanse of bare bedrock. The top affords an even better view than the already excellent view from below. I had a little fun with my wide-angle lens, taking a neat shot of my shadow and arranging our group into geometric formations.
From the clearing, we descended back into forest and into a small col between Blueberry and Porter's main ridge. The trail then starts the ascent to the crest of this ridge. I find this section of trail to be the least enjoyable aspect of the Porter-Cascade traverse. In addition to being fairly steep, the trail is rough, rooty, and winds through some less-than-beautiful blowdown areas. I made it clear to the group that this was the worst part of the journey (although all things considered, it isn't that bad -- it's just that the rest of the route is so nice!).
Soon, we topped out and the trail transformed from steep rooty mess to pleasant, nearly flat ridgewalking.
Miriam had been concerned about managing the 1,000+m climb, and I was now able to inform her that she'd basically completed 90% of the elevation gain. I think she did extremely well for her first ever 1,000+m of climbing!
The trail keeps to Porter's main ridgecrest. The ridge is forested primarily with short fir trees, but there are several pretty lookouts along the way. It's approximately 1.5 kilometers or so along the ridge to Porter's summit. The quality of the trail along the ridge is excellent: not eroded, well-defined, nearly no blowdown, and very gentle grades.
Until just before Porter's summit, we had had the trail basically to ourselves. I knew, though, that with such glorious weather on a late-summer weekend, that Porter and Cascade were likely to be teeming with people who had come up from the other, easier trailhead.