Hiking buddy George and I decided to break in our new boots with a leg stretching session along Kachess Ridge. So last Sat. afternoon we loaded up the truck and headed over to Cle Elum lake/river area. After yakin' with a few campers down low we headed up to a favorite campsite along the upper French Cabin Creek. The creek was high and melodious as last week's warm spell melted alot of snow in the neighborhood. We observed a few small trout feeding at the edge of a plunge pool while we enjoyed a sundown dinner. Right after we ate we headed up a cat track to look for evening feeders. George had recently purchased a new pair of Nikon binos and was itching to play "I spy". Following the cat track we gained 500ft in ele. and found a break in the trees where we could watch the open meadows near the top of the ridge. It wasn't long before a black bear came out of the forest to chase ground squirrels. At first we couldn't figure out what his strange behaviour was then soon realized he was digging up the rodents then chasing them down as they tried to escape. We had a good time being entertained by him until we lost too much daylight, then sauntered back to camp. Rising early Sunday morning we made coffee and had breakfast then strapped on the boots and walked up the access road to the trailhead. A scouting trip the evening before revealed too much snow to drive to the traihead but not to worry as we came to put some miles on. After making about a mile plus we entered the bottom of a large clearcut where George spotted some movement. Up on the hillside about 400 yds away were a bachelor group of three mule deer bucks feeding. Two were younger and one was older and in his prime, all were growing antlers. The road we were on switchbacked up the mountain skirting the clearcut. We were able to cut the distance almost in half before the bucks became nervous and ambled off toward the trees. Upon arriving at the trailhead a lone doe stepped out of her bedding area. She was gaunt in the flanks and her body language told us she has a new fawn nearby. So we gave her some space and headed up Knox Creek trail. The trail begins in a lovely alpine meadow where the wildflowers are beginning to bloom. Lots of new greenery sprouting as springtime has just begun at 5000+ft. The south slopes are mostly snow free but of course the north slopes have quite a bit of snow left. The day began cloudy but by now the clouds were giving way to sunshine. After reaching the top of the ridge, we turned right and meandered over to Thorpe lake. George had never seen this neighborhood before and was enjoying being on the top of the world. The veiw was worth the effort as always, the weather coudn't be better for hiking. No other footprints on the trail, it's possible we were the first of the season, who knows. Didn't see another soul or vehicle in the vicinity all day. After having our lunch we decided to decend back to camp. Next day was a working day and we aren't in the best shape to be pushing it too hard the first time out. It sure was nice to see the high country again after what seems a long absence thru a hard winter. Beautiful scenery, clear air, wildlife, camp cooking, good excercise, and time with a friend. Let the season begin!