Posts Tagged ‘portland oregon’

Tanner Butte – Columbia River Gorge 2/1/11

Garmin Interactive Map

20.7 mi

Elevation Gain:
5,806 ft

Min / Max Elevation:
78 ft / 4,111 ft

Matt, Dexter, Sadie & I

Tanner Butte had been a hike on my ‘ to hike list’ for along time. Its one of the many higher mileage day hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. I had finally dedicated myself to getting an early enough start to have the opportunity to finish before dark.

The trailhead starts in an awkward spot right off of exit 40 (Bonneville Dam). You can either park at the Wahclella Falls trailhead (just to the right/South as you come off i84) or the Tooth Rock parking lot (just left/East at the fork). Tooth Rock parking is free and is known for access to the Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway that has been converted into a walking / biking path in different sections. Tooth Rock is just West of Eagle Creek (Punch Bowl Falls & Tunnel Falls) and serves as the trailhead for Wauna Viewpoint. We parked at the Wahclella Falls trailhead (requires a NW Forest Pass) .

From the parking lot you walk back (North) towards i84 where the road forks – the hike begins here. The trailhead is halfway decently marked, but beyond this good luck…

Matt and I brought information about the hike; however, it did not completely help as there were many unmarked and obscure roads. We explored a few roads and one finally led us to the top of some ridge dead-ending. Discouraged as we were hiking down we started to plot our itinerary for the rest of the day – possibly hitting up a couple other hikes in the area. We ended up giving it one last shot and found the correct road, which led us to the Tanner Butte Trailhead … finally!

Apparently back in the day you were able to drive to the real Tanner Butte Trailhead. From the get-go the trail is beautiful! It starts with a series of small cascading waterfalls. We had to hike across a small icy creek that required some rock-hoping preplanning to prevent getting wet. My dog Dexter loved walking through the creek hydrating while my brothers dog Sadie is still deathly afraid of water. Sadie would not budge – I had to grab her scruff and pull her across the creek. This didn’t wade well for my feet as they got slightly damp with many more miles to go.

There was a strong East wind that kept the air brisk – chilly brisk that is! Needless to say, I wasn’t willing to bust out my camera much and sacrifice my hands freezing. Much of the hike we stayed in the dense forest somewhat protected from the wicked East wind of the Columbia River Gorge.

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[The Snowy Tanner Butte Trail – Dexter loves to run ahead]

Luckily once we got onto the Tanner Butte trail it was mostly easy to follow. As you can see above the trail clearly cuts through the forest. Sections of the trail we hiked were actually an old road. There was a few areas where it almost got away from us (due to the deceiving snow) that we took loose tree limps and logs to clearly mark  the trail to see on the way back.

The snow level had been at a high elevation for awhile leading up to this trip, but since much of the trail hikes through dense forest the snow is protected from the sun leaving us to hike though it. Most of the way the snow was firm and icy. As the snow melted off the tops of the trees the moisture created divots in the snow – this was definitely wearing on your feet and ankles causing your foot strike changed constantly. Hiking a few miles through this type of terrain slowed us down tremendously. As we reach a vista we felt like we were near the summit, but it was a false summit – a beautiful vantage point though!

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[Mt Hood with Tanner Butte in the near distance]

It was starting to get late in the day so we had to make some difficult decisions. From the ‘false summit’ we decided to give the summit a shot. After a half mile or so the trail disappeared as did our summit fever. The snow had gotten thicker and icier and the forest had grown a few too many trees leaving us to poor visibility. Just a few hundred vertical feet from the summit we decided it was best to not show up in the news and turn around.

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[Mt Adams in the distance]

When hiking you see so many different things – when you are leading vs following or when you are going ‘out’ or coming ‘back.’ As we were hiking ‘back’ we got a glimpse of Mt Adams in the distance.

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[Matt in good spirits]

The decision to turn around or keep trekking is a difficult one to make. Like many, I want to reach my final destination – the summit! However, there are many factors that are considered prior to turning around – time/day light, trail conditions, supplies packed, individual’s fatigue. We probably would have been okay, but didn’t want to risk coming back to the wrath of our significant others for arriving way late 😉

IMG_2624[Munra Point just West of us]

On the way back we took full advantage of the downhill keeping a solid pace. With just a couple miles left the sun started to set behind the might ridges of the Columbia River Gorge. It made for a cool shot of Munra Point and reminded me of how steep of a climb it was!  We arrived back to the car just as it was nearing complete darkness. The dogs fell asleep instantly as they probably put in double the mileage we did!

Saddle Mountain, Seaside OREGON

5 miles

Elevation Gain:
2,338 ft

Min/Max Elevation:
1,649 ft / 3,289 ft

Grant, Kristin, Myself

Garmin Stats / Map

Saddle Mountain has always been on my list to hike. Curiosity has built up more and more over the years of driving back and forth to the Coast seeing the pull off signs to the trail head. With the Oregon Coast being a simple 1 hour 15 minutes away from Portland, Oregon a day trip is more than doable.

Kristin and I woke up to some delightful sun one morning and finally decided it was go time for Saddle Mountain. But First – we had to make a necessary stop at Camp 18.

Camp 18 is definitely a tourist place, but I still enjoy going there for the gigantic cinnamon roll that they serve up fresh for just $5. I highly recommend either sharing or expecting to take part of it to go as it is not only huge, but rich with flavor. Against my better judgment I agreed to Kristin’s request of ordering this Cinnamon Roll as an appetizer to our breakfast. Just minutes after devouring this Cinnamon Roll our ‘real breakfast’ came out in similar fashion – giant sized portions. Needless to say between the biscuits and gravy and my tri-tip-bacon-mushroom omelet  we weren’t leaving hungry!

 

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[First views of Saddle Mountain]

Full-stomached in all we got in the car and headed just 5 miles further West on highway 26 to the Saddle Mountain pull off. In my guide book it said it was located 7 miles off highway 26. These 7 miles were some of the longest miles and I truly felt like we were just driving to the top of Saddle Mountain. Watch out because the road is not the greatest with all of the moisture this area receives – the road is highly prone to dips, pot holes, and washouts. Even though there are sections of the road that seem drivable at 40mph you’ll come around a corner with a dip or pot hole…

 

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[From the trail head / parking lot]

From the trailhead I was super pumped because we couldn’t see a cloud in sight. However, it can be a bit daunting to have a clear view of your final destination especially when it looks like Saddle Mountain – steep!

 

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[Up, up, up and away…. ]

This trail is seasonal and can definitely be dangerous if even slightly wet. On many portions of the trail it is reinforced with fencing to prevent furthered erosion. With this Saddle Mountain being so exposed it is at the mercy of extreme wind, rain, and snow.

Walking on these sections that are reinforced with the fencing is pretty annoying – your footing seems unstable and I kept getting my toes stuck in the holes….

 

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[Hiking to the West-est point 🙂 ]

Along the trail you are constantly blessed with awesome views of the valley (weather dependent of course!). The down side to hiking more demanding of terrain is you have to focus mostly on your feet and aren’t able to look out / up to enjoy the views ; however, there are many benches along the way to stop and rest or picnic at to take in the views.

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[Close to the top – You can just barely see the Pacific Ocean in the distance!]

 

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[View looking Northwest towards Astoria – You can see where the might Columbia River and Pacific Ocean collide]

The views at the summit were spectacular! I was impressed with the viewable distance at this location. I was even able to point out the general area of I rode my bike when I cycled from Portland to Seaside.

There was a good sized group at the summit area so we headed slightly South climbing over the fence to a less crowded area.

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[Kristin and I at the top area]

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[Grant and Sadie atop]

This hike had great rewards with amazing views. It is definitely a hike that is only worth doing in perfect conditions. Not only did we have beautiful weather – we hiked mid week avoiding what I’m sure of large crowds.

Overall I would not recommend this hike to families. It is fairly steep with trail fencing that may easily cause you to loose your footing. As it being my first time hiking this one I probably won’t revisit it again for awhile – or at least when the stars align to create such conditions again.

After burning off our morning breakfast at Camp 18 it was yet again time to refuel. We headed North to Astoria for Fort George Brewery. It has become our MO to incorporate beer or brew pubs into whatever we are doing in some fashion, which only seems like the right thing to do…. 🙂

 

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[Pour in the Vortex IPA – delicious!]

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[Belinda & Kristin]

 

Definitely a full packed day!! I love Portland and how centralized it is making day trips like this easily doable!

Timberline Loop #600 – Mt Hood, OREGON

40ish mile Round Trip (Pacific Crest Trail #2000, Timberline Trail #600)

Elevation Gain:
10,734 ft

Min/Max Elevation:
3,322 ft / 7,392 ft

Andrew, Casey, Brian, Jake, Myself

Brian’s Garmin Stats / My Garmin Stats (my watch died just before finishing)

Ah yes, the Timberline Loop. The 40-ish mile loop around the base of Mt Hood, OREGON. I have backpacked the Timberline Loop 3 times prior to attempting this outlandish goal of run-hiking it in “less than 24 hours.”

It all started when Andrew was asking me about good trails to run. I gave him some info on Ramona Falls and a few other relatively flatter

trails with good terrain. After looking through pictures and listening to my rants about how cool the TLine Loop is he came up with the crazy idea of run-hiking it in less than 24 hours.

Against my better judgment I agreed to this ridiculous idea as did Casey, Brian and Jake. Andrew seems to get us to do the craziest (also stupidest) adventures. The last time I ran into Jake was when Andrew got Casey, Jake, myself and a few others to go on a snowshoeing trip one winter.

A quick story to preface this one…

We all crammed into Andrew’s ‘other’ van with high hopes of surviving another Andrew-planned-trip. Almost to the Mountain we learn of Andrew’s van’s issues as we hit snow. We pull over as the road is getting more sketch to drive as we gained elevation. It turns out not only are the tires completely bald (bald even for completely dry and perfect roads), but the tire chains that came with the van are the wrong size and do not fit. With just a few close calls and a hell of a lot of weight in the van we made it to Government Camp.

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[The Van, the snowshoers and a lot of snow!]

There was no real plan except to head up – up to Timberline Lodge that is and mostly because we couldn’t drive the van up there. For awhile we followed some trails then apparently decided that this was too ‘easy’ and started to hike in some crazy deep snow in the trees.

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[Andrew gettin stuck in some deep POW]

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[Trailblazing through the trees up to Timberline Lodge]

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[Hangin just below the Lodge with the Mountain looming in the background]

We ended up making it up to Timberline Lodge and back to Govy all in one peice. We were lead by Andrew (the marine) going some crazy grueling militant pace.

[Snowshoe racing]

We all survived … barely, well at least enough to hit up the brewery in Government Camp – Mt Hood Brewing Company (Ice Axe Grill).

Okay, back to Timberline Loop…

Immediately once Jake and I saw one another – we remembered our last experience together with Andrew. “Good times” we both said as we prepared for the worst.

We got up to Timberline Lodge and hit the trail about 2:15am Sunday morning. Most of us were very much sleep deprived including myself. I had gotten up at 6am Saturday and had not gotten any naps in – smart, i know.

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[In climber’s registration before hitting the trail]

[2:15am, we are hardcore, or maybe idiots?]

We started from Timberline Lodge and headed clockwise around the mountain. The trail is well define and wide. We had bright headlights that had provided adequate light. In addition, Andrew had brought his bike light he uses when cycling. This light is so incredibly bright and shines a great distance that when he is cycling cars flash him thinking he is a motorcycle with brights on.

As we hiked we could see the glow of the city, the outline of the Mountain, and from time to time animals. We spotted a 4x buck grazing on the hillside.

For the first 13 miles or so we hiked solidly in the dark. Just after Ramona Falls and just before the Muddy Fork we started to see day light. We stopped for a moment to take in the first views of the day.

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[The gang]

Prior to the hike I put together a tentative plan for stops, breaks, and water refills. I feel that it is absolutely essential to take 5 minute breaks every few miles to refuel your body (food, hydration), take the weight off your back, and to rest your feet – especially when doing endurance hiking. We sort of abided by the plan… didn’t do so well at the beginning then proceeded to take more rests towards the middle and end. Just after the Muddy Fork near Bald Mountain Jake decided to check his feet and found a colossal blister on the bottom of his foot, which he proceeded to cut through with his pocket knife. This would be the beginning of our bad luck.

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[Trail surgery]

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[Jake trail surgery – Casey bandaging his own wounds]

Also, just before this stop Casey just about fell to his death on a slightly washed out area. Luckily whatever reflexes he did have saved him from eventually ending up in the Pacific Ocean; however, he messed his knee up pretty bad. 28 more miles to go boys, lets do it!

[Mile 15-ish checking in…]

Just beyond mile 15 Jakes blister worsened forcing him with no other choice but to hike barefooted. The combination of his tough feet and softer trail allowed him to continue on with minimal pain – what a trooper!

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[McNeil Point/Carin Basin Area]

Just before arriving to the McNeil Point area I was viciously attacked by one of the biggest hornets I’d ever seen. I was wearing shorts with leggings underneath minding my own beeswax when all of a sudden this hornet latches onto my leg and stings me. I am slightly allergic and have become less allergic over the years it seems. However, the fear of being stung still exists.

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[Few minutes after being stung. It proceed to swell over the next few days]

[Casey sums up our current status – we are pretty haggard at this point]

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[pumping some tasty water]

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[Very cool spot to stop – I ended up taking a little snooze as everyone was pumping their water]

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[Not far from the Elliot Glacier wash out area – Jake leading the way in flipflops]

Jake was having a difficult time hiking with his blister situation. When we stopped at McNeil Point I took my pack off and realized that I had flipflops that he could wear. This seemed to make life much easier for the time being.

[Trail Closed]

From here you have to hike up the ridge line towards the glacier for about .25 miles or so. If you know wear to look there is a giant boulder visible with a rope anchored to it. The grade of the hill is pretty steep, but is doable without the rope. The rope just allows you to go faster and balances your body with your pack on.

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[Andrew getting into position to use the rope to hike down]

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[Me coming down… ]

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[Gives you perspective of the steep grade – maybe 150 ft to bottom of rope]

[Elliot Glacier Washout area]

After guiding yourself down the rope about 150 feet or so you have to meander up and over boulders down around to the river. The trail markers are okay. The best thing to do is to plan out your trip from the top of the canyon. The trail on the other side of the river is viewable so it is best to know the general direction to go after rappelling and crossing the river.

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[Coming up the other side]

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[me]

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[Brian]

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[Andrew w/ Mt Adams in distance]

In my mind from the Elliot Glacier on is the most difficult portion of the Timberline Loop. There is much more technical hiking involved with more river crossings and elevation gains. From Elliot Glacier washout we would climb up to about 7,300 ft (about 2,000 ft of elevation gain).

From beyond the Cooper Spur Shelter the terrain is made up of fine grain sand and the area is extreme desolate looking. As you curve around the Mountain you can faintly see in the distance rock stacks marking the trail. The weather on this side of the mountain was much colder and windier – layers were in order.

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We had stopped to pump water long enough for Casey to fall asleep on some rocks.

We ended up making to the Mt Hood Meadows Ski Boundary before seeing the sunset. My goal was to be across White River before dark, but with all of the blisters, bum knees, and fatigue I was okay with it. Just beyond Mt Hood Meadows my feet were toast – I had to switch to flipflops. I had some killer blisters that started after mile 5. Each step I took I could feel my heels being rubbed raw. It was such a relief to go flipflops and relieve the pressure from my heels.

The White River crossing is a little tricky because there are a few islands you have to cross over onto since the river is so wide. Luckily with Andrew’s crazy bright cycling light we were able to locate the trail markers relatively easy and make it across quickly. We all moved quick through that section because the wind off the glacier water was frigid cold.

From White River up to Timberline Lodge it is about 2 miles with 1,000 ft elevation gain. With already hiked 30 some odd miles with some intense elevation gain fatigue was setting in. The wicked mountain winds made it seem like we were climbing up Everest at times. This gave us just enough adrenaline to finish it out strong. We finished at about 9pm.

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Andrew had decided he was the least tired out of us and best suited to drive ‘the van’ home – Brian acted as co-pilot keeping him awake. Well, for us 3 in the back – we passed out in a matter of minutes.

Overall – definitely not the ideal hiking experience. In the past I’ve done the Timberline loop in a 2-3 day backpacking trip and still feel this is the best way to go. With our run-hike experience we were not able to enjoy it (with nagging injuries included). We were too worried about meeting our time versus hanging out taking in the scenery, which is really what hiking is about. As for myself I am going to retire the Timberline Loop for awhile and explore other areas…. more days and less miles! 🙂

Cycling City to Seaside

105 miles

About 7 hours ride time

3802 Elevation gain

Cycling Maps / Resources

Elevation_City2Sea

[Elevation/Speed Chart]

Prior to this ride my longest ride had been Larch Mountain (Larch Mt April & Larch Mt July[watch died towards beginning of descend] ) – about 70 miles, but with some serious elevation gain over a short distance! I have been cycling a bunch – mostly commuter miles with a few longer rides (20 – 30 mi). These miles had built me a solid base.

I began my journey from the City to Seaside bright and early around 6:45am. I had a nice and easy few mile warm up to the intersection of the St Johns Bridge and Germantown Road where I waited for my buddy – Andrew.

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Andrew is a seasoned rider and knows the area well – he hook me up with a pack to use and a beautiful draft for the first 30 miles of my ride … (which definitely helped to conserve energy!)

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Highway 30 is by far the worst part of this ride – there is a bunch of traffic/road noise and the bike lane isn’t the cleanest (gravel & uneven surfaces periodically). There was a slight breeze making layers essential early in the morning.

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When we hit Scappoose it was time for a coffee stop at Cafe Thirty. The caffeine and delicious donut was enough to reenergize us before my first major hill climb.

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This section of road was refreshing to ride especially coming right off of highway 30! There was just a few cars and the road paralleled a creek to the base of the first climb. The road weaved through a highly dense forest, which kept the temperature low – needless to say we made quick stops to avoid being chilled. Andrew cycled with me to the top of the first climb – about 30 miles in. Here, he handed over the pack he was so graciously carrying for me and we split, both descending downhill our separate ways.

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I hit it hard and got moving fast on the downhill section to mostly warm up, but to also enjoy flying through some way fun “S-Curves!”

While Andrew and I were at the Coffee Shop my parents had called and told me they were going to follow my route. They met up with me about 60 miles in at the Highway 103/202 juncture. I took a 20 – 30 minute break eating my PBJ sandwich and rehydrating. Before long I started to see some other cyclists in the distance and decided it was time to get on it.

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The second and definitely most difficult hill climb is at about mile 65. I already had a good idea what I was getting myself into because I had run this hill during Hood to Coast – its a brutal hill on foot and bike! For most of the way my average mile splits were sub 4 minute miles – once I hit the hill my mile pace immediately increased to 6 minute +/ mile. Its a tough climb that curves up the hill to just over 1,000 ft. At the top (74mi/1,026ft) I could smell the cold, salty marine air, but I knew I had many more miles ahead before reaching the beach! Before switching into high gear I looked back and saw a couple of cyclist hot on my tale. This descent was about a 1,000ft drop over 10 miles with some great “S-Curves” thrown in as well.

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I took a couple of stops along the way to refill water and grab food out the pack. As you can see its beautiful country…

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For the most part the route is clearly marked and easy to navigate. The section below was the only confusing area. On google maps the road is listed as Ollney Cuttoff Rd – it is actually marked Ollney Lane. I figured they were the same based on other landmarks nearby, but decided to ride onto Youngs River Road. Ollney Lane and Youngs River Road are about one mile at most from one another and end up both connecting in the end – so either one works.

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From turning off Highway 202 it is about 20 miles to Seaside. The road is mostly rolling hills with a couple of major climbs. Fatigue was definitely setting in because the slightest elevation gain was hurting!

*NOTE: Small section (Less than quarter mile) of Youngs River Road is graveled – small rock and very ride-able (easy does it!).

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[First sighting of the Final Destination – towards the top of the last hill climb]

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My Garmin 405 watch unfortunately died on me a few miles short of my final destination 😦

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The Ocean!

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Eat! Eat! Eat! (Garmin watch says I burnt about 7,000 calories) Pizza Huts 2 foot pizza devoured.

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Celebratory brew – none finer than Hop Czar from Bridgeport Brewery

Along this route there are long sections of absolutely nothing, which can be good and bad. The good – low amounts of traffic & beautiful scenery to take in. The bad – if something happens you are a ways from anything. If you plan well many problems can be avoided…

  • Scappoose (Coffee, Refill Water, Supply [Fred Myers] )
  • Scappoose/Highway 47 Cut Off (5 miles South is Vernonia)
  • Birkenfeld (Coffee Shop/Country Store)
  • Youngs River Road / Highway 202 Cut Off (Country Store)

Overall it was a great route that mostly followed the Hood to Coast Route. Most of the roads were freshly paved making for a smoother and faster ride (Thanks President Obama!).

(Parents said it took about 4 hours to drive my bike route)

Munra Point

1,700 Feet
6.25 miles Round Trip
Myself, Brian and Daisy the dog
Munra Point Hiking Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info

Munra Point is located in an area of the Columbia River Gorge (Eastern Part) where I haven’t completely explored as much. Prior to hiking this one I did a bunch of research and reading about. I came across Dennis Stilwell’s website http://www.nwhiker.com about his Heart Attack story on this very hike. It is pretty intense to actually have done this hike now and to imagine how it may have felt to be in such a dangerous health situation stranded atop Munra Point. You can read about Dennis’s Heart Attack story here – NWhiker – and even listen to a podcast (highly recommend) of Dennis giving the full story – PodCast_HikeYeah (34-35).

Munra Point isn’t a hike of any amateurs. It climbs intensely 1700 ft in about 2.5 miles. It involves a little rock climbing, which stimulates the common adrenaline junky alike. Atop Munra Point offers one of the best vantage points in the entire Columbia River Gorge. Elevated high above the Columbia River you are dazzled with amazing 360 degree views – mountains, waterfalls, geological landscapes, and beautiful panorama of the Gorge. To say this under the conditions we hiked it is very impressive….

It was the weekend and I had my eyes set on hiking Munra Point. We are in the Pacific Northwest so of course it was raining in May. Despite the subpar weather conditions Brian, Daisy the dog, and I went for it. We started from the Wahclella Falls trailhead with rain. The trail was wet and muddy – we were prepared wearing our heavy duty hiking boots.

The first mile is deceiving as it is relatively flat with a short steep stint hiking up a muddy trail then back to a access road. The real climbing starts when you veer off the access road onto the hiking trail (sometimes hard to find – can become overgrown). There are a few different trails up in this area – just remember to head UP and you’ll make it to Munra Point.

You climb pretty steeply through a heavily forested area for about .25 miles when you are first greeted with views. Despite the rain, fog, and low cloud cover it was still pretty amazing.

[Brian hiking up some steep terrain 4×4 style – West Facing]

[West facing pic of Columbia River Gorge]

Just beyond this viewpoint the rock climbing began. Keep in mind that we had a dog with us so we had to carry her or get her a nice running start. She was timid at first then became a rock climbing pro.

[Brian and Daisy approaching next climbing spot. Not up the rock face rather to the left up the gully – still climbing & steep]

[Brian and Daisy near top of Munra Point – West facing]

Once we reached the top the wind started to really pickup as did the rain so we didn’t stick around long. It was decided that we would definitely have to hike this one again when its dry and sunny out to truly appreciate it. The way back was much more difficult then going up. The slick rock made things a bit more tricky and slowed our progress. Most of the climbing spots we simply down-climbed as poor Daisy had to go head first down. I have never seen a dog’s paws so spread out – she needed all the traction she could get.

We saw just two other brave souls out there as we were heading down. We exchanged a bit of hiking beta to one another and continued on down. We were completely drenched and cold from the rain and wind so we decided to pull off for some lunch and change to some dry layers. This sweet rock cropping provided us with some great shelter and a break from the wind and rain.

[Brian and Daisy surveying the area for a good sitting spot]

On the way down the muddy spots were much more muddier. This gave us the opportunity to truly test the durability of our heavy duty hiking boots. My Danner Boots held up great keeping my feet dry and warm.

Towards the end of the hike we walked along the old highway and explored the area a bit (hence our extra mileage). Not completely exhausted from Munra Point we decided to hike up to Wahclella Falls (2 miles RT). A great day of hiking – the rain and wind just kept the trails empty, which was nice to have these beautiful places to ourselves for the day.

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.

Beacon Rock

1.6 miles RT; 800 ft gain
Andrew and Myself
Beacon Rock Hiking Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info

Beacon Rock is a large 800 some odd foot basaltic landmark that sits in the western edge of the Columbia River Gorge. Back in the day Beacon Rock was used as a landmark for river travelers and explorers when navigating the area. Not only was it an easy way for people to find their barrings, but it marked the end of the intense rapids just East on the Columbia River. Even today I still use Beacon Rock and other noticeable landmarks to navigate the area.

Beacon Rock is both hike-able and climb-able. It is hike-able most of the year until of course the Columbia River Gorge gets hit by the “Artic Blast” with snow and ice. It is climb – able for a large portion of the year, but it reserves February 1 to about mid July for just the beautiful Falcon birds to safely nest alone without the annoyances of rock climbers getting in their way. The Southeast face is the most popular and fun places to climb. There is many different routes you can take, which ultimately lead to the hiking summit. I always enjoy it when we climbed up and over the gated hiking summit to a bunch of astonished and confused hikers – “where’d they come from!” Here are a few rock climbing pictures – Beacon Rock Southeast Face Climbing.

[Beacon Rock looking East from top of Rock of Ages]

[Beacon Rock in the distance. Picture taken from Wauna Viewpoint on the Oregon side]

Beacon Rock is a great little ‘walk in the park’ hike. It is not the hike you would want to be doing on a summer day unless you don’t mind the crowds. It can definitely get crowded along the trail that is literally built onto the side of the rock. It is located directly off of Highway 14 – easily accessible to all. For me, every time I’ve hiked up its been spur of the moment sort of deal – I’d be in the area and notice that the parking lot is near empty and the weather is decent and decide to head up the trail for a quick sweet view of the Columbia River Gorge. If you plan on doing some rock climbing here you’d better get an early start. It is a popular area for climbing due to the ease of climbing, accessibility, and close to the city.

Atop Beacon Rock it is pretty exposed to the elements and can be extremely windy. I enjoy the views of the Bonneville Damn, Oregon Waterfalls, and the Columbia River. Check out below a little video of what its like atop Beacon Rock…

Beacon Rock Hiking Pictures

Beacon Rock Climbing Pictures

Beacon Rock Trail Information