Thursday, December 2, 2021

Hike: Forest Park (Firelane 12, 15, Wildwood, Newton Road, BPA) XII, 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.

I parked, geared up and set out.


The Hike

Length: 10.04 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,086 feet
Type: Loop (except section to trailhead)

This is the 12th time I've done this general route and 5th time I've added a leg to Newton Rd Trailhead which adds about 1.6 miles but not much elevation change. I also hiked up to the high point near the BPA Trailhead.

My ascent time from Hwy 30 to the top: 0.8mi was 22min. My Best Time so far.

I'm just trying to get a few more reps (hikes) before the end of the year but also to stay fit for other adventures (snow shoeing, skiing, more hikes).

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Hike: Scouting the Blue Lake Trail / Toutle Trail, MSH, Cougar, WA

 
All Trails maps

Getting There

This was my first time to this trailhead but I've driven by the turnoff several times en-route to Red Rock Pass Trailhead or Climber's Bivouac. 

Most Direct Route from Portland:

Take I-5 N to Woodland. Then take Lewis River Road east toward Cougar (WA-503). Just after the Yale Lake Boat Launch, take the Merrill Lake turnoff (north) on Merrill Lake Road (NF-81). After crossing over the Kalama River, keep an eye out for a 90-deg turn (and small sign) to stay on NF-81. (*If you find yourself on Forest Road 030, turn around). You'll see the Kalama Horse Camp on the right. After Goat Mountain you'll get to the junction for Toutle Road (Forest Road 8123) to the Blue Lake Trailhead.

The road is a bit rough with potholes and newly formed trenches from rain but no problem for pickup or Jeep.

When the road gets really rough, you'll see the trailhead sign. There's plenty of room for several cars to parallel park. You'd need a motorcycle or 4x4 spotter to get passed the creeks that have pummeled this area but the Forest Road 8123 continues.

The Hike

Distance: 2.32 mi
Elevation Gain: 240 ft
Moving Time: 56:29
Total Time: 1:09:10
Avg Pace: 24:23
Calories: 498

I didn't leave Portland until about noon and wasn't on the trail until about 1:30p. I didn't have time for a long hike in unknown area like this. I figured I could do some scouting though. The clouds made from some excellent lighting at times. Diffused shadows and some slivers of blue sky. The weather was amazing, around 60F.

Time will tell if I can do a longer hike before winter really sets in. Crazy temperatures for Dec 1st. Even if there is some snowfall, it likely to be easily negotiable with micro-spikes and hiking poles. It sounds like the issue for other hike destinations like Ramona Falls is that the creeks, streams, rivers can be swollen and impassible. Certainly a trends that will continue if we get early snow, then warm weather. It would certainly make hiking on snow pack much more dangerous due to hidden cracks & crevices.

I started hiking on Forest Road 8123 but after looking at the map, this was not going to emerge from the trees for miles. I wanted to take advantage of the light and views of MSH. I turned around and headed back towards the Blue Lake Trail. 

I eventually found my way using the GPS/maps back to the Toutle Trail and spur trail to Blue Lake. I chatted with a couple who were looking for a way to cross Coldspring Creek. (This is a way to reach the Sheep Canyon Trail which then links to the Loowit Trail for nice 14mi loop passed Butte Dome.)


The Drive Home

Instead of taking the Lewis River Road back to Woodland and I-5, I took WA-503 south through Amboy and Battle Ground. I've crossed the Yale Bridge before but I was floored when I got there and saw the blanket of fog. It was magical. I took a chance and stopped on the bridge to take a few photos. Fortunately, no cars were coming because I saw them crossing later at high speeds. Oops. The lighting was gorgeous.

I crossed the bridge and parked. There was a steel staircase down to the water's edge; even some life vests for anyone to use. So glad I took a different road home.




Friday, November 26, 2021

Hike: Hamilton Mountain & Hardy Creek, N Bonneville, WA



AllTrails map

Getting There


When I checked the forecast for Skamania it said overcast until around 7 pm but driving through Washougal and into the Gorge it was raining and drizzle. 

I was surprised to find the Hamilton Mountain trailhead was full. I waited for a few minutes to see if any cars might leave but I didn’t see anyone coming off the trail.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to do Phlox Point again but I knew the Equestrian Trail parking would have room. In fact there were just two other cars.

The Hike


Distance: 9.19 miles 
Elevation Gain: 2,280.2 ft
Moving Time: 03:11:02

I was misty and wet but I was projected from the rain but the forest canopy. I saw one couple with a dog but never saw the person/people from the other car.

I noticed fresh tracks from a vehicle in the mud and it turned out to be a park ranger. I waved when they drove passed.

I still wasn’t sure which route I was going to do. I briefly considered a clockwise loop, hitting the Saddle and then Hamilton. When I got to the Hardy Creek trail I even started up the next section but turned around.

I wanted that climb that only the counterclockwise loop gives. I saw another two hikers and their dogs at the Hardy Creek junction.

When I reached the switchbacks the views were incredible. The fog filled the Gorge and the sun was piercing through the upper clouds.

I was running out of daylight when I reached the Saddle. It was a long 4.0 mi descent on the Equestrian Trail. I kept a brisk pace.





Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Hike: Forest Park (Firelane 12, 15, BPA Road) XI, 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.

I parked, geared up and set out.


The Hike

Distance: 6.96 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,650 ft
Moving Time: 2:16:41
Total Time: 2:21:01
Avg Pace: 19:39
Calories: 1,204
Type: Loop (except section to trailhead)

This is the 11th time I've hiked this section of the park but I tried a new route this time.

I did the first segment to the Firelane 12-15-Wildwood and I took Firelane 12 all the way down to Hwy 30. Actually, the trail ends in the neighborhood of Harborton (NW Creston Road & NW Harborton Drive.)

Then, I traversed along Hwy 30 (noisy) but I saw some interesting trash like love notes on heart-shaped sheets, like torn for a teenager's notebook.

I considered going up Newton Road but opted to just take the BPA Road up. Using my hiking poles seemed to help, I didn't feel as winded as without. The tiny push I got from each arm helped enough to make a difference.

I stopped for a couple of minutes to talk to a woman with a dog. My time was slower than usual. 3:17-3:46 = 29 min vs the usual 25. Maybe those couple of minutes chatting but I really feel like the poles helped me go faster. Guess not.

I wanted to check out Wildwood to Newberry but it was pretty muddy/mucky out there and I bailed after 0.2mi (0.4mi rt).

I didn't start my hike until about 2:10p so I had limited daylight. It was dark when I reach the St John's Bridge.



Saturday, November 20, 2021

Hike: Hardy Ridge Trail to Phlox Point, N Bonneville, WA

 

AllTrails map

Getting There

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

Distance: 9.93 mi
Elevation Gain: 2,415 ft
Moving Time: 3:27:59
Total Time: 3:35:46
Avg Pace: 20:57
Calories: 1,833

It turned out to be a great day for a hike. I visited a week or so before and it was really windy. Sat (11/20) it was in the 60s and pretty much windless.

Once you reach the bottom of the ridge where the Phlox Point out-n-back section of the trail starts, you're pretty much exposed to the elements, there is very little tree coverage. By comparison, the hike up to Hamilton Mtn is almost all in the trees.

The parking lot for Hamilton was full but there were many open spots in the Equestrian Trail parking lot.

I saw a dozen or so other hikers (in pairs mostly). I took the counter-clockwise route this time. It's a pretty steady incline for 3.2 mi (about 1400' foot elevation gain), some long switchbacks to the Phlox Point trail.

I made it all the way to the cairn pile at the top. On the way back to the trailhead, I took the Hardy Ridge trail back. The sun was golden at this point. The trail surface is perfect, cushioned with leaves and needles from the local evergreens & conifers.

I had a little energy left when I got back to the Equestrian Trail so I took a spin on the Loop Trail. It was pretty dark when I drove home at around 5pm.







Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Hike: Forest Park (Firelane 12, 15, Wildwood, Newton Road, BPA) X, 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.

I parked, geared up and set out.


The Hike

Length: 8.69 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,014 feet
Type: Loop (except section to trailhead)

This is the 10th time I've done this general route and 4th time I've added a leg to Newton Rd Trailhead which adds about 1.6 miles but not much elevation change. 

I also added a few extra legs for extra elevation gain and distance. (I was <2200' to reach my 100K' goal). I hiked up to the high spot near the BPA Road Trailhead and another on Newton Road. (Net gain: +283' & +1.2mi).

It's still pretty muddy in spots but peaceful to hear the water flowing in the creeks. Just a smattering but always great to hear the little birds flitting about.

I even saw a small garter snake.

Ben's Bench on Wildwood Trail

View from the high point on the BPA Road.

Late afternoon in the Forest Park



Sunday, November 14, 2021

Hike: Hamilton Mountain & Hardy Creek Loop, N. Bonneville, WA

AllTrails

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. 
 

The Hike

Distance: 8.46 mi
Elevation Gain: 2,339 ft
Moving Time: 3:13:49
Total Time: 3:21:00
Avg Pace: 22:55
Calories: 1,708

The weather in the Gorge was looking pretty stormy as I headed east. The woman in the car next to me said it was really windy up top, and she was right.

I made good time in the way up (3.0mi, 1h25m, 2,050ft). I kept expecting rain and thought I’d make it an up-and-back hike but at the top I said fuckit and started towards The Saddle. 

When I got out in the open the wind was really blowing. I took a selfie. 

I’ve only taken Don’s Cutoff once and today was not the day to try again. I was glad to be able to keep a brisk pace on the Equestrian Trail. 

When I reached the trail junction I thought ‘why don’t they have a trail between the Equestrian parking lot and Hamilton, Hadley Campground. Otherwise it’s a loooong walk on the road.

I was surprised to cross paths with a hiker going up. The sky was pretty dark and it was almost 4p. 

On a whim I took a spin out to Little Beacon. Such a rad view from there. 

It was a bit eerie walking through the empty campground back to the parking lot. There were still 2-3 cars besides mine. Glad to not be last to leave.