Posts Tagged ‘Mt St Helens’

Cooper Spur / Tilley Jane Area 1/22/2011

Garmin Interactive Map

3.91 miles

Elevation Gain:
1,401 ft

Min / Max Elevation:
3,803 ft / 5,213 ft

Kristin, Dexter, Myself

Cooper Spur is located on the Eastside of Mt Hood. Cooper Spur is a smaller resort (hotel/cabins) with one ski lift. The last few winters the resort itself hasn’t had the greatest snow winter with having to be closed much of the season. This side of the Mountain is a nice escape as it is much less busy compared to Highway 26 side with Timberline Lodge, Ski Bowl, Summit and Mt Hood Meadows traffic coming from Portland.


The trailhead is just above Cooper Spur Resort off of the Cloud Cap Road. This trail is popular for snowshoers, cross-country skiers, snowboarders, and climbers. Typically most people hike to the Tilley Jane Cabin area, which is about a 5 mile RT hike. During the winters the conditions beyond Tilley Jane toward Cooper Spur (Top of Spur – 9,000 ft) can be wicked windy. During the summer time the trail is heavily used by hikers as it accesses the Timberline Trail#600 (Loop around Mt Hood).



[Trail is well marked]

This area has changed dramatically over the last few years due to major wildfires. The Gnarl Ridge Fire burnt many acres leaving behind limbless trees. Prior to the fire the forest was dense and cozy feeling – now the terrain is much more open with just burnt trees standing behind. With the help of mother nature the forest’s openness provides much clearer views of the Cascade Mountain Range.


[Looking into the Valley through the burnt trees]


[Mt Hood]


[Mt St Helens]


[Mt Adams]

Sadly, there wasn’t any fresh powder or really any snow. I had packed our snowshoes thinking we may use them on a few steep parts, but it wasn’t necessary as other hikers had imprinted the trail with their large snowshoe prints creating a stairway to Tilley Jane.


[Snow Hiking]

I was surprised how little snow there was and how many bare spots lay at 5,000 ft in the dead of winter! It definitely made hiking less tiring minusing out the extra weight of snowshoes on the feet.



[Dex & I]


[Kristin & Dex]

This is a popular trail for dogs. Most of the dogs (huskies) we saw were more winter-fit compared to our short-haired friend Dexter. Dexter definitely got a workout in sprinting up and down hills investigating the trail ahead. We discovered afterwards that Dexter’s paws were a little raw due to the ‘ice’ so it might be wise to get some booties for these types of conditions in the future…




[Cloud Cap Cabin]

We decided to turn back before making it to Tilley Jane due to the sun setting. I tried reassuring Kristin that I had headlamps and it would be doable – needless to say we turned around and headed for Hood River. We hit up Big Horse Brew Pub in Hood River for a quick burger and brew before making the trek back to the city..


Pacific Crest Trail – Goat Rocks, Mt Adams

Goat Rocks – Mt Adams

51 miles

Elevation: 10,000

goat rocks

[We combined/layered all 3 of our GPS stats]

Daniel, Brian, me

Photo Credit – Daniel took most of the pics (he has a sweet camera!)

More pictures Here!

3 near death situations.. sort of –

  • Saw a tree fall and it definitely made a sound!
  • Saw a giant 200+ pound boulder roll across the trail
  • Traversing eroded rock and glaciers
  • Backpacking 51 miles with 10,000 ft gain 🙂

We started Thursday evening getting to the trailhead off highway 12 (just past Packwood) at 8pm. I was way excited for this trip because it was going to be the largest section of the Pacific Crest Trail I was going to hike to date and we were going to an area I have never explored before.


[the start…]

Daniel, our “trailmaster” had explored this area and had done large sections of this trip at one time or another – but never in its entirety. We were all set with mapping devices – Daniel with his Garmin GPS handheld, Brian with his spanking new Garmin Tri Watch 310tx, and myself with the Garmin 405. Also, we had the old fashion compass and map if all else had failed.

The temperature was chilly and there was a light mist. After much debate I had decided to outfit my feet with trail running shoes versus boots. The weather forecast had been promising with sun. This decision would prove to be the wrong one….

Thursday night we hiked for about 2.5 hours to get about 5miles out of the way. These first 5 miles were gradually climbing through dense forests – so it ended up being the best 5 miles to hike in the dark because we weren’t missing out on any views.

Unfortunately for me, the trail was pretty muddy. Brian and Daniel both decided to go with boots… a wise decision. I ended up hiking between Daniel and Brian so that I would have the best light and be alerted by muddy spots.

A little about me and my feet…

My feet are completely flat – no arch at all. They are long (size 13), wide and are incredibly prone to being destroyed after just a few miles. Blisters are inevitable and a way of life… until I met and fell in love with Montrail Streaks.

Last summer my friend George and I planned to hike the Timberline Loop. I had been going back and forth between boots and trail shoes and had decided to try out my new Danner Boots. Being the procrastinator that I am I waited a few days before the hike to break in my boots and test run them. Inevitably I got the blisters that I probably deserved. After my short test run hike up in Forest Park I immediately went to Fit Right Northwest where my buddy Andrew works. I pleaded with him to hook me up with a shoe that was “blister-free” just 2 days before my hike. After the videotaped gait analyst of my running style and ugly awkward feet he fitted me with the Montrail Streaks. I flip-flopped it for the next two days to eliminate the hot spots I had developed. Without any breaking in I hit the Timberline Trail hard (all terrain- snow, dirt, sand, rock – you name it) and came out a new man – blister free!


[The Montrails in all their glory]

… This is where the story is sad. Montrail Streaks are discontinued. I cannot locate the Streaks anywhere! So I had to put my trust into the North Face trail shoe.

In the first 5 miles in the dark I had already gotten hot spots on my heels. I applied some Body Glide the next day in hopes of stopping the blister build up there… it didn’t work 😦

We had hiked to for a few hours and found a solid camping spot right off the trail that was relatively flat and sheltered from the wind. Throughout the night the wind and rain came down continuously. And then it stopped. My sleep came in the form of 30 to 45 minute naps throughout the night. I immediately noticed the constant sound of the rain hitting our rain fly as it stopped around 4am when the temperature dropped below freezing cooling things down.


[Our frozen camp in the morning]

It was difficult to get out of my mummy sack and be exposed to the chilly morning air. With the sun starting to rise we could see that our camp site was pretty sweet. We were perched on this platform with great views of the sunrise and mountainous valley.


[Sunrise from camping spot]

It was great to get 5 miles out of the way Thursday night. It warmed us up for what was to come, but at the same time low enough mileage we weren’t sore.

After a hardy breakfast we bundled up and hit the trail. Immediately I was impressed with how beautiful the area was.


[the snow covered peaks we would soon hike through..]

For most of the day we were blessed with amazing views of the Mountains and Valleys as we hiked. I was very impressed with the amount of Pacific Crest Hikers that were trekking onto Canada this late. We passed by 15 to 20 PacCresters’ along the trail.

When you hike in an area as remote as this and see very few people it is always nice to stop for a minute to shoot the breeze with other hikers along the trail. Many of the PacCresters’ we spoke with were pushing 20 plus miles a day to beat the nasty snow of the Northern Cascades. As we were speaking with one hiker we heard some crackling of a couple branches falling off a tree. Just as we look to see the branches drop the entire tree went timber falling not 50 feet from us. It was a cool experience to see mother nature being so powerful. However, the rest of the trip we were all weary of the trees as we heard them sway from the powerful winds.


[We took side trail to Hidden Springs… and found the Springs – awesome view from above]



[Good eats on the trail..]



[Let the climbing begin…]



[Almost to the top…]

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[Mid-Hike snooze]

After doing some major climbing it felt amazing to peel off the pack and get off the feet for a few minutes. Having the sun beaming down us in this high alpine meadow and a slight breeze– I could have stayed here for weeks!


[The climbing resumes]


[Looking over the shoulder – man o man have we gone a ways!]


[Climbing through the snow covered peaks]

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Some pretty tricky traversing here. We ended up taking the “stock” trail versus the “hiker’s trail” this trail would prove to be much more technical and dangerous due to the snow fields and loose rock. Through this section the wind was whipping really good causing some loose rock to fall down the hillside. Just as we were coming up over a ravine we saw a 200+ pound boulder come off the top and roll right across the trail diminishing all other rocks in its path. To continue along the trail was a little daunting. I was on high alert.


We hit the last 100 feet or so of traversing. It was probably the sketchiest part. The traverse was much more vertical along some extremely loose rock. My rock climbing background provided me with the mental toughness, body balance, and technical moves needed to get through this small section.


[Goat Rocks, Mt Rainer, Tranversing the snowfields]



[Mt Rainer with a “linticular” cloud looming over the summit – Goat Rocks to the Left]


[Goat Rocks, Goat Lake, Mt Rainer… but no goats :(]


[Our final destination glooming in the far distance (Mt Adams)… Coolest looking camp spot here]

This was one of the coolest camping spots along the trail. Unfortunately for us it was taken and we had to hike for another 7 miles before shutting things down for the night. Apparently this area is accessible by a fairly easy 8 mile hike. Hearing this got me excited about taking our wives here. I began to day dream about spending a few days here bouldering on the rock and exploring more of the Goat Rocks area.


We took a few minutes to watch the sunset over the beautiful Cascade Mountains. We could see Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, Mt Rainer, Goat Rocks and Old Snowy – it was a spectacular site. As quickly as the light of the sun disappeared the Moon’s light appeared. We ended up hiking until 11pm in attempt of getting to the half way point. The traversing/climbing and rock hopping really killed our pace so we had to push through the late night. For most of the  night we hiked under the moon light. I have not done much hiking under these conditions, but absolutely loved it.


[Lake we camped near]

Let me tell ya – it is tough to find a lake at night, especially when you dog tired! We ended up being just a few 100 yards from it so it worked just fine when washing dishes and refilling water. Throughout the night we awoke to 2 owls working together as a team – one was hooting while the other was scanting. After a minute or so if hooting and scanting we heard a loud thump assuming they captured their prey.



Feet problems persist…

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Early on Daniel hiked a good portion barefooted on the wet forest floor to allow his soggy boots to dry out a bit. My usual MO of blisters was the issue so I hiked about 11 miles in the flip flops. After flip-flopping it for a few hours I developed other hot spots so I switched it up with some barefoot action as well. At this point the trail was soft and mostly made up of sand.


I’ve heard many stories of people getting caught on Indian land and things not working out so well for them. As I understand it – the Pacific Crest Trail has right away. We fortunately did not test to see – we steered clear of their property!


[Mt Adams… Getting closer]

The entire trip we knew that our exit point was Mt Adams. We first saw Mt Adams towards the end of Day 2 as we were hiking through Goat Rocks area. From Goat Rocks on we pretty much starred at Mt Adams the entire way out. We kept looking up and thinking – wow that is a long ways away!


[The END! ]

Daniel’s family had come up to the area during the day hiking around and went swimming in the lakes. Daniel’s Dad was so gracious to wait for us and hike out the last 4 miles. It was nice to have him along for the last bit as he told some great stories and boosted morale. At the truck his family had left behind cookies, sandwich fixings, fruit, and hydration. It was definitely refreshing to eat something other than power bars or candy. We all limped into the truck and ate like Kings. Not but 30 minutes into the drive I was out and then suddenly awoke in Portland. I definitely appreciate Daniel’s Dad for hooking it up big with the food and driving us out of there!

Over all I truly enjoyed the hike. I would however recommend taking 3-4 days to truly enjoy the area. On many parts we weren’t able to explore as much because of time constraints. I plan on adventuring back to the Goat Rocks – absolutely beautiful country!

Paradise Park, Mt Hood

August 14/15
Elevation – Min: 4700ft Max: 6200ft
12.5 mile Round Trip
Myself & Kristin
Paradise Park Hiking Photos
Garmin Connect –  Day 1 stats,      Day 2 stats

Video Action

Paradise Park is located just West of Timberline Lodge Ski Resort. There are a few different approaches to Paradise Park – via Ramona Falls, Burnt Lake, and Timberline trails. We chose the Timberline Lodge approach because of peace of mind parking the car at the Lodge and the mileage/elevation is the less strenuous of these approaches.

It was a perfect weekend to escape the Portland, Oregon heat and run to the Mountain for some cooler temperatures. We had just recently moved into a new place that unfortunately does not have central air or any kind of air conditioning for that matter; however, it does have plenty of storage room to my plethora of outdoor gear that definitely makes up for it (except when its 90+ two weeks out of the year). So to eliminate the problem of sleeping in the house, which definitely felt like was on top of the equator we headed up – 6,000 ft to be exact.

Timberline Lodge is located at 6,000 ft and is one of the select few areas in the world that have year around skiing/snowboarding. We left the house relatively early in anticipation of others thinking the same way we were. We hit the trail just after 8am.


[Looking South towards Timberline Lodge w/ the Flag blowing in the furious winds]


[Kristin amped for backpacking]

From the Timberline Lodge parking lot up to the trailhead we encountered frustrated skiers/snowboarders. The lifts were being delayed (not sure if they actually ever ran that day) due to heavy winds. The distance from the parking lot to the trailhead always seems like it is an eternity away because you are just starting to acclimate to the heavy pack, the elements (tornado like winds), the elevation (6,000 ft is a big change from living at 200 ft!), and warming up em’ cold muscles. For the first .25 miles from the parking lot to the trailhead it wakes you right up – the steep trail, beautiful views of Mt Hood & a few other Cascades, and fresh mountain air get you going.

I have hiked the entire Timberline Loop (41-ish mile hike around base of Mt Hood) the past few summers and have always noticed the trail juncture for Paradise Park, but had never made it up as it is early on in the trip (trail juncture is about 5ish miles from Timberline). I have always enjoyed the first section of the Timberline Loop and decided it was time for Kristin to enjoy it as well.

To Paradise Park you hike along the Timberline Loop trail #600, which is also shared with the almighty Pacific Crest Trail (trail that spans from Mexico to Canada).


The trail is continuously winding in and out of the forest giving you great glimpses of the Cascade Peaks and beautiful treed valley. From time to time you’ll come across snow patches that have been so lucky to survive most the summer. Just under a mile into the hike you will come across a Wilderness Permit Box. When entering the Mt Hood National Forest (and many other forests for that matter) you are required to sign in by filling out some basic information. This info basically is used to track the usage of the area and does influence the amount of funding it granted as well – so fill it out!

From Timberline Lodge to the top of Zig Zag Canyon it is mostly down hill (which makes for a good warm up to the hiking experience). Despite it being downhill we were still bundled up because of the heavy winds. The winds were causing mini dust storms blowing the fine-grained sand everywhere coating everything in it.


[Atop Zig Zag Canyon enduring the crazy winds/sand storm]


The descent into Zig Zag Canyon is long, gradual with just a couple steep grade switchbacks. Trekking poles are nice to have on much of this trail especially when you are carrying a decent amount of weight. The 4×4 traction gives you more balance and provides you with a little peace of mind through sketchy sections of washed out trail and river crossings. Hiking down into Zig Zag Canyon there are a couple of narrow spots along the trail with a decent cliff like drop. Unforntuately for “Daisy the dog” a few years ago she took the tumble. While hiking the full Timberline Loop we had “Daisy the dog” & “Max the dog.” Along this particular narrow section of trail the dogs were vowing for the lead. Needless to say Max won as Daisy slipped and tumbled down the hillside after being launched off a log. A 1 hour rescue operation took place. It was extremely difficult to get to her as the ground was wet and steep. She was luckily just a little dazed and sore – we were able to continue along the trail.

Along the river in Zig Zag Canyon is always a great spot to rest for a few minutes. If you hike a few hundred yards up river there is a sweet waterfall.


Crossing the river can be somewhat tricky depending on the time of year / time of day you cross. We usually cross in the morning when water levels are not as high – but even then it can be a little tricky to keep the feet dry. Usually if you hike up river a ways it narrows just enough to make a leap across with minimal danger of your feet getting wet.

After crossing the River the elevation climb begins. From the River (4700 ft) to the top of Paradise Park (6200ft) it is up up and up for about 3 miles. Not far after hiking above the river you come to a trail juncture. To the left you continue around the Mountain on the Pacific Crest Trail/ Timberline Loop #600 and to the right is the Paradise Park trail.

From Trail #600 / Paradise Park trail cut off the steepness increases a bit. Portions of the trail are made up of fine grained sand, which make it difficult to hike it – every step you slip back a few inches. Again, the ole trekking poles come in handy! Along the Paradise Park Loop trail you come to the Paradise Park Summit Trail cut off. This area is truly Paradise – a high Alpine Meadow with amazing views of the Cascade Mountains and the valley.

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Hiking up to the Paradise Park summit is fairly steep so we decided to pull over in a shady spot and hang out for awhile as we were way ahead of schedule. We watched other hikers head up the hill to the summit – by the looks of the hill it looks pretty steep! 

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At the Paradise Park Summit the wind was blowing hard so we had to layer up. We hung out up there for awhile – long enough for Kristin to get a nap in. While she was napping I jotted up towards the Mountain a ways. We were a few weeks late on seeing the wildflowers in few bloom, but there was a few left.


Its pretty cool to see the headwaters of some of the major rivers in the area. Here’s a sweet “fresh” (a few hundred yards from the glacier) waterfall.

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It was starting to get late in the day and we were seeing some crowds roll in so we decided to hike down and claim our camping spot. We scored a sweet spot near a creek with a perfect view of the Mountain.


We hiked up on this bluff to watch the sunset. Truly beautiful!

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[cool wildflowers up there]


[Enjoying the sunset]


[if you look close enough you can see the I205 bridge!]

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[cool moon]



[my best attempt at getting a night shot – I had the shutter open for 15 seconds (max my camera goes) pic doesn’t do it justice.. as always]

And of course in the morning we watched the sunrise… It rose at 6:10am, but from our camping spot we didn’t see it until 7:30am-ish.

IMG_1318We didn’t stick around for long as it was heating up fast! I didn’t want to wait for it to get hot while I was climbing up Zig Zag Canyon!


[I let Kristin wear my “positive energy” bracelet to increase her balance :)]


[Timberline Ski lifts in the distance – we are close!]

This was a perfect backpacking trip for Kristin’s first backpacking experience. The weather mostly cooperated and we were able to enjoy the clear skies with both sweet sunset/sunrise’s. I highly recommend checking this one out as either a day hike or short weekend backpacking trip. 

Munra Point

July 17 2010

2643 Feet
5.7 mile Round Trip (plus Wahclella Falls 2 mi RT)
Myself, Kristin, Brian & Nina
Munra Point Hiking Photos

Munra Point Garmin Connect – Details

Brian and I were set on summiting Munra Point on a clear sunny day as our last hike up Munra Point was foggy/cloudy/windy/rainy. We recruited the girls to join us with great promises of amazing pay offs at the summit. We purposely kept the elevation gain on the dl. Only until we were approaching the trailhead did we discuss the steepness. A few miles before the exit Munra Point is visible from Interstate 84 –

munra point i 84 I always like to park at the Wahclella Falls trailhead as there are many great hikes in the area. I usually hike Wahclella Falls as a pre/post hike to my hiking day as it is just 2 miles round trip. This time around we hiked it pre Munra Point.

Wahclella Falls is located just a mile in a small gorge. The high basalt walls, beautiful flowing creek and powerful waterfall make this place a photography hot spot. While we were there 3 vans full of photographers pulled up and started setting up at multiple points near the falls.

The water was definitely cold – much colder than Oneonta Gorge! I walked into the water to snap a few shots of the falls and could only withstand the frigid water temperature for less than a minute.


[Wahclella Falls]

After our quick Wahclella Falls outing we started our “real hike.” The trail was extremely overgrown and looked like it hasn’t seen much trail traffic (i imagine most approach Munra Point from the West). Brian and I cleared the way for the girls chopping down overgrown weeds/brushes utilizing our multipurpose trekking poles.

The approach from the East entails hiking on Gorge Trail #400 for nearly 1.4 miles until the “up” begins. The cut off trail up to Munra Point can become overgrown and difficult to locate sometimes, however, people are good about placing markers along the trail. These markers are great to locate the trail and to keep people on the actual trail to prevent further erosion. Munra Point is an unmaintained trail – Please keep to the trail to prevent more erosion!

From miles 1.5 to 3 things are pretty steep. You start at about 250ft and end atop at mile 3 at 1,870ft. The key is to take your time and find good rest spots. There are a few great rest spots that allow you to sit down and relax for a couple of minutes to rejuvenate.

IMG_9223 [Picture taken in May – the first time we hiked it – Great rest spot that shelters you from wind/rain. Located in the midst of the steep climbing in the forested area next to the exposed basalt rock wall.]


[Rest stop 2 just above 2nd rock scramble area… great views]


[views… Looking West towards Multnomah Falls area]

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[Towards the top the trail turns vertical – Brian reaching the top of Munra Point]

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[LEFT: Nina, Kristin & Daisy atop Munra Point RIGHT: Mt Adams, Bonneville Dam, Columbia River]

We hung out at the top of Munra Point for about 30 minutes or so. Looking out on the Columbia River we could see white caps on the river and could definitely feel a strong breeze atop Munra Point from time to time. It was comfortable on the top with a decently flat area to rest as we ate lunch and soaked in some sun. The views are spectacular – Beacon Rock, Mt Adams, Mt Rainer, Bonneville Dam, Bridge of the Gods, St Peters Dome, & Columbia River.

The trek down always seems to be much more difficult. Not only are you fatigued mentally and physically, but with the rocky unstable trail you are more prone to slipping requiring much more concentration and slower movements (equaling muscle burning!). I enjoy taking it slow to have a chance to divert my eyes from my feet and gaze off to enjoy the scenery.


[Taking it easy hiking off of Munra Point]

Augspurger Mountain

4,400 Feet
15.2 miles Round Trip
Myself, Randy
Augspurger Mountain Hiking Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info

The much more common hike in this area, but still strenuous and intense is Dog Mountain. We hiked Augspurger Mountain via the Dog Mountain trail. Augspurger Mountain trailhead is unfortunately located in the area of where major construction is taking place on Highway 14 (check ahead of time the road hours). We had to wait 30 minutes for the road to be cleared and reopened to the public. Most of the construction is actually just beyond the trailhead, but WSDOT is using this pull off for parking their machinery. While waiting I was able to locate our exact location and found that we were less than a half mile from the trailhead. We probably would have been okay if we’d arrived earlier to avoid the traffic that started well before the trailhead and extended far beyond.

After our long wait for construction to clear we were antsy to get on the trail. We started off and maintained a quick pace as we began our ascent up first Dog Mountain. The quick pace forced us to stop and de-layer as our bodies warmed fast and began to sweat from the sunlight hitting us.

We started to elevate above Wind Mountain (just West of Dog Mountain) we heard some big game hauling butt down the densely covered hillside in a hurry. It was within 25 – 30 ft of us when it finally heard us and stopped. We were unable to see the animal because the hillside is densely covered in brush, trees, and poison oak, but we could definitely see the movement in the brush. Based on the noise and the large amount of brush it was moving we knew the animal was large. We started yelling and throwing rocks into the animal’s area. We weren’t sure if it just hung low or high tailed out of there in stealth form – at any rate I got out my trekking poles to start using them while hiking and as a protecting force (or just a little peace of mind – cause a pokey stick wouldn’t do much when a bear is charging..).

[Wind Mountain – West Facing]

The thought of a big game animal stalking us quickly faded as we climbed up the last few hundred feet to the summit of Dog Mountain. From Dog Mountain the trail to Augspurger Mountain has mercy on our legs for a few hundred feet as it descends to an old access road. At the access road you go right (East/up) and follow for about one mile until reconnecting with the trail.

This trail starts to climb immediately through an older forested area. On the plus side the trail was soft and easy on the feet. The higher we hiked the less maintained the trail seemed. Seeing poison oak at lower elevations on the trail I decided to stay with pants rather than changing to shorts. This was a wise decision with all of the underbrush we had to constantly hike through. The underbrush would constantly catch your leg/foot making it difficult to hike through. As we reached higher elevations we hit patches of snow. Early in the day the snow we hit had not been exposed to the sun as much making our passage much easier. However, later in the day as the sun warmed the snowy patches it caused things to get a little tricky.

We were lucky enough to be hiking on a day with weather definitely cooperating. The skies were mostly clear and we had beautiful views of the Gorge.

[Atop Augspurger Mountain with views of Mt Hood]

Just beyond the top of Augspurger Mountain is a relatively flat spot with incredible views of the Columbia River Gorge. We did lunch here. We took off our shoes letting them dry out a bit from the soft snow we had to hike though. I find that airing your feet out on longer hikes is key for avoiding blisters and completely sour feet.

The hike back was not a piece of cake or straight down. With the long lunch break it energized us … to an extent. The underbrush is definitely wearing as it forces you to slip and alter your stride. On longer sections of downhill my “johnny long legs” cannot hold back all that long until I am in a full on out sprint. Luckily for me the trail had many softer sections, which didn’t hurt the knees as bad.

Back along the access road we came across some tracks that had not been there a few hours earlier –

After seeing this rather large track we picked up the pace a bit and made sure to be loud – or at least hold a regular conversation that way we wouldn’t spook any animals. Just beyond these tracks we hooked up with the Dog Mt Trail. There weren’t anymore tracks around… on the trail at least.

From the top of Dog Mountain we pretty much jogged the entire way back with occasional breaks for the knees. I was surprised to see a good amount of people heading up late in the day. I imagine it was locals doing a quick evening hike – as they were well aware of all of the Poison Oak / mud / tracks when we told them. This was a long, but very rewarding hike atop with a few cool views in between.

Larch Mountain – Columbia River Gorge


View pictures here:
PDX Hiker Facebook Fan Page –

Now that we are in the Holiday season I find myself with even less time to get out and play. So to “get my blog on” this week I decided it would be best served by reminiscing about one of my favorite hikes in the Columbia River Gorge – the almighty Larch Mountain.

Larch Mt is one of my favorite hikes in the Columbia River Gorge due to its close proximity to the city and diversity of scenery along the trail. This hike can be done a few different ways –

Popular Starting Points: Larch Mountain

Multnomah Falls*

Horsetail Falls

Angel’s Rest

These are a couple of my favorite approaches. Multnomah Falls is definitely the shortest amongst all. However, Multnomah Falls (15 miles RT) is usually crowded and makes for a longer hike having to weave in and out of the numerous people making the “short” hike to the top of the falls. The “short hike” to the top is a far too common misconception amongst tourist as well as many Portland Metro Goers. Despite people even being able to visually see where the top viewpoint (noting the elevation gain) and seeing the mileage marker sign of 1 mile at the trailhead.

*A side note* – I have hiked up this trail passing women walking in high heals, pregnant women, people that were pulling up their 16 year old son in a wagon, morbidly obese people who look like they are going to collapse out of exhaustion, and many other misfits – but hey, at least they are out there right? Multnomah Falls recently has updated the one mile climb up with signage on each switchback to show what # of switchback you are on and the distance to go so people can decide if they still feel its worth it…

The trail follows up Multnomah creek most of the way up providing for beautiful views of multiple waterfalls and vistas. At the top – Sheppards Point 4,050 ft – views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, Mt Rainer… on a clear day.

The first and last 2 miles are the most strenuous. Generally speaking – in the Columbia River Gorge, the first mile of most trails are steep and strenuous climbing to the top of the ridge of the gorge.

Just beyond the top of Multnomah Falls the trail traffic slows. The trail parallels Multnomah Creek for most of the way as it continues a slow but steady incline up to Sheppards Point. There are many waterfalls ranging in size – each very unique in their own way.

Three bridges cross over Multnomah Creek as the trail winds through the rugged hills up to Larch Mountain. Shortly after the third bridge crossing there is an open rock clearing. At this point it begins to steadily become steeper.

The next big trail juncture is 2 miles from Sheppards Point. The last 2 miles of the trail climb through a highly dense forested area with little visibility of the surrounding area making it difficult to navigate in the dark or when snow is on the ground.

I have gotten out of some sticky situations by understanding the topography of the area. I have hiked this trail in June on an 80+ degree day and 2.5 miles from Sheppards Point we hit snow. By knowing the topography of the area I knew it would be more efficient to stay along the ridgeline rather than following up the trail through the dense snowy forest. Many people have gotten lost in this area by coming into similar situations – the dense forest turns people around and disables their sense of direction completely.

I will be the first to say I have been lost. I actually like to phrase it more like “I was temporarily misguided.” I believe that being lost in somewhat of a controlled environment (comfortable weather; within close proximity of civilization; readily prepared – food, first aid kit, emergency blanket, etc) only strengthens your abilities to navigate and survive in more extreme situations. In some of my experiences of being lost people have the tendency to make irrational decisions that can potentially be damaging. It is absolutely quintessential to think clearly through each decision and action taken.

For all day hikes I go prepared with –

  • Day pack
  • Water (water treatment – iodine tablets)
  • Food (energy bars, trail mix, candy, etc)
  • First Aid (athletic tape, alcohol pads, pain reliever)
  • Clothes (Layers, rain jacket, fleece, gloves, beanie hat)
  • Knife
  • Whistle
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Fire (matches/lighter)

View pictures here:
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Happy Hiking!