Sunday, May 1, 2022

Hike: Lewis & Clark Discovery Greenway Trail, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Washougal, WA


AllTrails map
 

Getting There

Take Hwy 14 E from Vancouver, WA (Downtown) for about 20 miles. The newly opened parking lot is located 1.5mi from the 32nd St roundabout, on the right (south). There's room about 15 cars and one bus. (There's a pit toilet as well.)

The Hike

Length: 6.60 mi
Elevation gain: 118 ft
Moving time: 1:59:13
Avg. pace: 18:04
Calories: 1,050
Total time: 2:08:46 

The area is called Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge and has two main trails. The newest section is titled Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail which takes you from the trailhead & parking lot to the Columbia River. On Google Maps, the trail, which originates at Steamboat Landing Park, is titled Captain William Clark Park Trail. However, on AllTrails, it's called the Lewis & Clark Discovery Greenway Trail.

The place opened today, May 1st. There are fresh tractor markings everywhere, freshly planted trees, and newly sawn trees carefully placed in the creek bed. It's going to take some time for nature to thrive.

I remember how barren the Sandy River Delta looked back in the early 2000s after a lot of work had been done to reclaim the area for the public. The bird blind could be seen several hundred feet away. Now, the place is lush with life and you don't see the bird blind until you're almost on the ramp.

The Trailhead
 

Some of my favorite shots

Mt Hood and Crown Point, OR
Late afternoon clouds over the Columbia River
Late afternoon clouds over the Wildlife Refuge
Redtail Lake, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 

The Lewis & Clark Discovery Greenway Trail dead-ends at the property line of M bar J Ranch.


On the way back I took a different route through a section of Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail that will be closed seasonally from Oct 1 - April 30 for Wintering Waterfowl. 

 

There are several art pieces along the way.

 
I even saw a group (family) of 4 deer.
 
 
 

There's a bridge of the western tip of Redtail Lake. The railing has several oversized bug in bronze.


 


 
 
Redtail Lake, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Redtail Lake







Sunday, April 24, 2022

Hike: Lewis & Clark Trail, Troutdale, OR

AllTrails map

 

Getting There

After stopping at Michael's in Gresham near I-205, I wanted to take a spin in the outdoors. I knew Sandy River Delta was gonna be packed but I took a spin through the parking lot. No dice. Out of curiosity I ducked under the freeway and saw lots of empty spots on the Lewis & Clark State Recreation Site on the Crown Point Highway. The trails start on the backside of the grassy area.

The Hike

Length: 3.41 mi
Elevation gain: 666 ft
Moving time: 1:40:56
Avg. pace: 29:35
Calories: 889
Total time: 1:44:47

About 10 years ago, I hiked the trail above the train tracks. I knew it would be noisy with I-84 traffic noise and noticed another trail that follows the highway and Sandy River. It was short out-n-back but I'd never been there. 

To my surprise, it's a popular rock climbing destination. I could hear voices before I could see the people. I noticed lots of chalky crevices and permanent bolted eye rings. There were about 7-8 different groups when I was there. It's only 0.6 miles to the end where there is a huge wall.

Rock climbers

End of the trail

Birb on a log.

When I got back to park, I made my way over to the Lewis & Clark Trail #400. According to the map, the trail ends after 0.3 miles but I went another 0.7 miles.

Along the way, there was a decently clear view of the Sandy River Delta.

From other trail, Sandy River Delta

Lewis & Clark Trail #400

Lewis & Clark Trail #400

There were several downed trees that have been notched to make it easier to climb over. The boulders where I turned around had a lot work done to clear a fallen Douglas fir; lots of needles everywhere.

Huge rock in the forest

 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Hike: East Hardy Ridge Trail, N Bonneville, WA

AllTrails map

Getting There

Interesting day for hiking. Originally, I was on the Oregon side of the river to hike a route from Larch Mountain Road to Devil's Rest. The road is seasonally closed until late May at milepost 10. There was a little bit of snow on the side of road but otherwise looked pretty good. I didn't reach the gate because a large tree was blocking the road. Some intrepid folks had cut a car width section but I didn't want to deal with fallen trees. I immediately turned around.

My backup plan when hiking in the Gorge was to head to Beacon Rock. I made a quick stop in Cascade Locks to grab some gardening gloves since I'd left my other gloves at home. (D'oh). I crossed the Bridge of the Gods to the WA side and headed west towards Beacon Rock. The parking lot was full of cars and there was a "Lot Full" sign at the foot of the hill for Hamilton Mountain/Hadley Campground. There was a chance I'd find an open spot but decided to make a run at Phlox Point.

The Equestrian Parking lot had a dozen or so vehicles but still several open spots. The weather was warm but I stilled donned my usual base layer and jacket. 

---

The trailhead is accessible from the Equestrian Camp Parking Lot, a bit west of Beacon Rock & Hamilton Mountain.

Take WA-14 from Vancouver, WA east toward N Bonneville. Just after Doetsch Ranch you'll see the Ranger Station on the north side of the road just before the Beacon Rock parking lot. The road winds up the hill for a bit. Keep a lookout for the the Equestrian Camp turn off.

The Hike

Length: 6.51 mi
Elevation gain: 1,427 ft
Moving time: 2:06:34
Avg. pace: 19:27
Calories: 1,115
Total time: 2:10:02 


I hiked up the East Hardy Ridge Trail. After the cutoff for the Upper Hardy Creek Trail the snow started to get more widespread. There were spots of exposed trail but lots of hiking on snow/slush. When I reached the end of the road and started on the "foot traffic only" section, it was really snowy. I opted to not put on microspikes but was slippin' and a-slidin' a bit. I'd been noticing canine footprints along the way but figured there'd' been lots of weekend hikers with their dogs.

At the first switchback, I noticed fresh prints and one kind of looked like a (black?) bear print (wider than the canine, deep claw marks.) I tried to rationalize that it was just a large domestic animal and the print was distorted a bit but I still felt uneasy. I'd passed a pair of hikers on their descent earlier but it wasn't enough to convince me.

I turned around and headed back down. I thought I might try getting to Phlox Point via the West Hardy Ridge trail but also was keeping an eye on my knees and other joints. I was glad to be out in nature and didn't want to push it.

In the end, I had minimal pain in my hammies or IT band and figured I'd save my legs for another hike on Sunday. I still hiked about 6 miles and 1,400' of climb. Not bad. I'll be back when there is less snow and it's not a slippery/slushy.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Hike: Dog Mountain, Carson, WA

 

AllTrails map

Selfie from the top of the Dog Mountain Trail

Getting There

I took WA-14 eastbound from Vancouver, WA. It's 54 miles from Vancouver and 6.2 miles from the Carson turnoff/round-about.

Note: "A Dog Mountain Trail System Permit is required April 23 through June 12 (Saturday and Sunday only)." - https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/273800

Since the weather was looking inclement, I didn't want to venture up to Phlox/Equestrian or Hamilton parking lots. While it was rainy in the early afternoon, it could change to freezing while I was hiking, no bueno. I considered Table Mountain from the Bonneville Trailhead but it is such a long approach through the flatlands. I decided on Dog Mountain since the trailhead is just off the road and offered some good elevation gain.

The Hike

Length: 6.35 mi
Elevation gain: 2,815 ft
Moving time: 3:06:45
Avg. pace: 29:23
Calories: 1,645
Total time: 3:31:10
Steps (Fitbit): 18,847
Zone Min (Fitbit): 10 (8 Fat Burn, 2 Cardio/Peak)
Floors (Fitbit): 259
Cals (Fitbit): 3,337

The first part of the trail was really nice, no mud but it's a leg burner :). On my ascent, I hadn't seen any trace of snow until pretty close to where the "more difficult" and "difficult" trails converged. 

I stopped and put on my pack rain cover, gaiters and microspikes. I also donned my warm hat. In a fortunate stroke of serendipity, I left my usual light hiking jacket at home so I wore my ski jacket. I needed it. I had my light duty gloves but had my ski gloves in my pack. My hands were pretty cold but I stubbornly didn't get the warmer gloves out.

Lots of people on their descent volunteered that the snow was pretty heavy at the top. A few people admitted to being under prepared. In fact, I passed a young couple where were wearing running shows and cotton sweat shirt.

I definitely needed the microspikes between the trail split and Puppy Dog viewpoint. It was pretty slushy and I kept having to knock clumps of debris (a mixture mud, snow, pine needles) from the bottom of my boot.

At Puppy Dog viewpoint, the snow got a lot deeper. There were decent footholes but visibility was poor. A person that had passed me was on their way down, citing the wind. I forged on, determined to get to the top, but then again, I wasn't sure. I kept seeing fresh footprints.

Once I reached a section where there was no wind, I knew I could make it the rest of the way.

After the last switch back, I called out to the little shelter under the trees to see if it was occupied. It wasn't but there was a guy just off to the left in the trees. He acknowledged me and we said hello. He offered his spot when he left.

The apple I had was nearly frozen or at least firm & unappetizing. I adjusted my gear and started my descent.

It was slow progress because it was slushy and a bit slippery despite having microspikes. Eventually I reached a point where I didn't need the spikes. I carried them for awhile and found a spot to stop and pack them so I could use my poles more easily.

At the viewpoint at 1600 ft, I met the guy from the top and other person. We chatted for a minute about the trail conditions.

Somewhere along the way my left leg/IT band was really barking. I stopped a few time to stretch but it only helped a little. I limped the rest of the way. I noticed that hiker behind me getting closer but he never passed me. 

So worth the cold and snow. Great hike!

Top of the Dog Mountain Trail

Selfie from under a tree at the top

Look back at the trail in snow zone

Look ahead at the trail

Trail split near the beginning

No snow down here

Columbia River on the descent

AllTrails recording: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/dog-mountain-with-april-snow-964d180

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Hike: Hamilton Mountain, Hardy Creek, Little Beacon, N Bonneville, WA

 

AllTrails map

Getting There

Take WA-14 from Vancouver, WA east toward N Bonneville. Just after Doetsch Ranch you'll see the Ranger Station on the north side of the road just before the Beacon Rock parking lot, then another road across from the bathrooms. The road winds up the hill for a bit.

Note: Looks like the Hardy Campground is open for the season. There were a couple of sites with people camping. Definitely going to look into staying out there while there are very few people and take a sunrise or sunset hike.

The Hike

Length: 8.36 mi
Elevation gain: 2,267 ft
Moving time: 3:14:21
Avg. pace: 23:16
Calories: 1,712
Total time: 3:30:04
Steps: 20,175 (Fitbit)
Zone Mins: 114 (86 Fat Burn; 28 Cardio/Peak)(Fitbit)
Floors: 258 (Fitbit)
Calories: 3,470 (Fitbit)

It's feeling like Spring! I didn't find any areas on the trail with remaining snow, especially between the Hamilton summit and the Saddle.

I also took the Don's Cutoff Trail which intersects the Upper Hardy Creek Trail (between the Bridge Trail and the pit toilet.

I've been working through RA treatment without methotrexate. I took a prescription dose of ibuprofen about 2 hours before my hike and felt pretty darn good. On the next day (Sunday) I had some soreness in my thighs and IT band on the outer right knee but otherwise, I would consider it a success. Good to know if I plan on a longer hike like Pumice Butte or Coldwater Peak or Mt Adams or MSH summit, I should be able to alleviate symptoms temporarily before they happen.

I loved hiking later in the day than during the Fall and Winter. The time change back to standard time and tilting of the earth allowed a later start (~2pm) and gorgeous golden light when I reach Little Beacon.

There was almost no wind at all. I was so quiet and peaceful. <3

Beacon Rock & Columbia River from Little Beacon

Selfie from the Saddle

Little Beacon Rock

Somewhere on the trail

Selfie from Little Beacon Rock

Little Beacon Rock viewpoint

Plaque for Clyde B. Hadly, 1st superintendent of BCSP



Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Hike: North End of Forest Park 17, Portland, OR

 

AllTrails map

Getting There

Take NW Skyline Blvd north from NW Germantown Road. The Skyline Blvd Trailhead is 1.6 mi and a parking are available on right (east) side of the road.  

It was such a nice day in March, it seemed like people were out and about in St Johns as I was approaching the bridge. It was already ~4p when I got going. The trailheads on Germantown Road had lots of cards but weren't full. The Skyline trailhead only had two cars.

The Hike

Length: 5.31 mi
Elevation gain:
951 ft
Moving time:
1:45:01
Total time: 1:48:19
Avg. pace:
19:47
Calories:
925
Calories: 2,581 (Fitbit)
Steps: 11,518 (Fitbit)
Floors
: 127 (Fitbit) 

Unexpected Spring-like day in the PNW. I was able to go to Forest Park for a spin. It was really muddy even on BPA Road and Firelanes 12 & 15.

I did a shortened version of my usual workout because my knees are still buggin’ from arthritis. Still glad to get my boots dirty and say “hello” to Benjamin George Collins. (There’s a bench in his honor on the Wildwood Trail.)

Also, I got to see Mt Rainier (“Tahoma", "Takhoma", "Ta-co-bet"), Mt St Helens ("Loowit"), Mt Adams ("Pahto" and "Klickitat").

Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail

Mt Rainier (“Tahoma"), Mt St Helens ("Loowit"), Mt Adams ("Klickitat").