Saturday, August 6, 2022

Hike: Butte Camp Trail via Red Rock Pass Trailhead, Cougar, WA

AllTrails map

Getting There

Take I-5 North to Woodland. Then take WA-503 (Lewis River Road) to Yale Lake. One way to get to the Red Rocks Pass Trailhead, take the left turn for Merrill Lake - NF 81. If you reach Cougar, you've gone passed it. It's a peaceful drive along Merrill Lake (even though you can't really see from the road.) Watch out for a 90-deg right turn just after Goat Mountain because if you go straight, it becomes Forest Road 8123 (dirt) and if you turn right you continue on NF-81 (paved) (Merrill Lake Road).

Another way to get there is pass through Cougar and take the left turn for Ape Caves/Ape & Lava Canyons (NF-83). Then, take that for awhile. After passing through a huge clear cut area, take a left toward Climber's Bivouac (NF-81). Follow that road (partly paved until NF-830, then it's dirt/gravel) until you reach Red Rocks Pass Trailhead.

There is room for about 4-5 cars to perpendicular park near the sign and then, plenty of room for parallel parking on the shoulder. Be sure to show your WA Discover Pass (or equiv).


The Hike

Length: 7.74 mi
Elevation gain: 1,736 ft
Moving time: 2:53:55
Avg. pace: 22:28
Calories: 1,532
Total time: 3:11:06
Steps: 23,122
Calories: 3,409
Miles: 10.62
Floors: 215

It was good to be back out here. I came in late spring via Merrill Lake and had to turn around somewhere around the Kalama Horse Camp due to heavy snow on the road and I was traveling solo.

A few months ago I had a weird David Lynch-esque dream that was loosely based on this location. I was kind of surreal to see it IRL and still be able to conjour the dream imagery and see how different it really was but how some of the topographical elements were distorted and represented.

I hiked trail last year on Oct 30, 2021 minus the off-trail detour/oopsie. It was warm but not terrible I was in long pants in case of bugs and long sleeved Kuhl shirt w/ 40 UPF coverage. Also, I was sporting my signature straw hat. I had about 4L of water to boot.

I bought a new pair of Keen Targhee III on Friday for $20 from the Keen HQ Garage Yard Sale. It benefited Love Is King ("Love Is King squashes the fear in the outdoors and provides equitable access and resolute safety to ensure an enriching and exhilarating experience in nature.") and Forest Park Conservancy ("Forest Park Conservancy's mission is focused on protecting Forest Park's ecological health while encouraging responsible recreation and access.").

When I got my first pair of Tarhee IIIs in 2020, I drove from the REI in Tualatin to the Grouse Vista Trail and hiked to Silver Star mountain. They worked out of the box: no blisters and minimal discomfort. The same was mostly true for this new pair. I did have some issues w/ my right foot. The left side was dialed in perfectly but I noticed an issue w/ the left side that I couldn't seem to fix; either too loose or too tight and slipping inside a little. I must have stopped 4-5 times to re-adjust and still wasn't happy with the fit. I know as the shoe is less stiff and form-fitting, it'll be good.

I didn't see enough people to correspond to the cars at the trailhead. There are a bunch of route options like heading west towards Blue Lake or doing the whole loop via Sheep Canyon. There was a couple camped before the big climb/switchbacks so probably others campers out there. 

It was pretty hazy in the distance which made it difficult to see Mt Hood. Still gorgeous panoramic views as you can see below.





Sunday, July 31, 2022

Hike: Hamilton Mountain, N Bonneville, WA


Getting There

Take WA-14 from Vancouver, WA east toward N Bonneville. 

I almost took 205 back into Oregon and headed to Larch Mountain. When I got to the turn, I just kept going.

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. 

It was 95 degrees according to my truck's thermometer. I was unfazed because I had plenty of water and knew most of the hike is in the trees. 

The weekend temperatures was hot everywhere (except the coast). I opted to not hike on Saturday and as Sunday rolled around, I hemmed and hawed. I got some inspiration around 1pm and hopped in the car. Bummer, I forgot my hiking poles but it was good opportunity to tune some muscles for better balance.

The Hike

Length: 5.49 mi
Elevation gain: 1,916 ft
Moving time: 2:42:59
Avg. pace: 29:40
Calories: 1,436
Total time: 3:05:30

Since it was later in the day, I opted to just do an up and back this time and skip the Saddle and Equestrian/Don's Cutoff. I was good to get the exercise and keep in shape for later this summer.

I was pretty dry out there, hence the yellow grass. Since I wasn't doing the Hardy Creek part of the loop I had some time to check out Little Hamilton. I got some new perspectives on (Big) Hamilton and the surrounding area.


Sunday, July 24, 2022

Hike: Base of Barrett Spur, Vista Ridge Trail, Mt Hood, OR

AllTrails map


Getting There

From Hood River, follow directions to Lost Lake and take the turn off on Lolo Pass Road. Go for 3.1mi. Look out for the sign for the Vista Ridge Trailhead via Forest Road NF-16.

From Hwy 26, take Lolo Pass Road at the Zig Zag Ranger Station. It's about 26 miles (1h 9m) from here. The road is closed at Lolo Pass (NF-18), so take NF-1810 for 10.5mi to a sharp right on to NF-16. 


Follow NF-16 uphill for 5.5mi and look out for a sharp left and NF-1650. From here is dirt/gravel. There are a few sections of washboard but otherwise the road is in great shape, no potholes.

The Hike

Length: 8.57 mi
Elevation gain: 2,881 ft
Moving time: 4:21:21
Total time: 5:02:08
Avg. pace
: 30:29
Calories: 2,303

This is my 3rd visit to this trailhead. The first time was July 16, 2020. I made it to the Eden Park Trail but turned around because I didn't have microspikes to negotiate the snow. The second time was June 12, 2021 and the trail was in rough shape due to dozens of downed trees, esp. at the point where the old Vista Ridge Trail intersects. I bailed and hiked Wahtum Lake/Ant Hill later that day.

This time was had my eye on Barrett Spur esp after my recent hike above McNeil Point at Cathedral Ridge/Ho Rock. At the Eden Park junction, there was a huge bank of snow on the direct route. I put on my microspikes and did my best. Eventually, I dropped into the trees and bobbed and weaved up the hill. The trail was buried somewhere below. I finally made it to the Timberline Trail.

I crossed path with two hikers/campers. They said the snow wasn't bad further along. That was good news. Except, I quickly started heading up towards Barrett Spur and up a huge patch of snow. It was like this for most of the rest of the way. The trailblazing was okay, lots of animal paths or other hikers to follow.

As I got close to my destination, the mountain ahead was daunting. The last bit of the hike was up a steep hill. There wasn't an obvious trail to follow, even when I was close. I found a bit of a trail and started going up but I knew it was going to be tough. According to AllTrails, it's a 0.4mi and 200-300 yds-45deg scramble.

I was thinking about my descent and making it back safely and before sundown. I had plenty of daylight but considered the risk too much for a solo attempt. I'd spent a lot of energy trailblazing. I vowed to come back with another hiker/friend and/or solo when there's no snow to contend with.


Saturday, July 16, 2022

Hike: Chinidere Mountain & Wahtum Lake, Hood River, OR


Getting There

From Hood River, take 281 from the center of town or take Hwy 35 towards Odell and follow signs for Lost Lake. Take Lolo Pass Road in Dee for 5 miles. Look out for NF-13 and the sign for Wahtum Lake, it's a windy 10+ mile single lane road. 

At about 4.4 miles, go straight to continue on NF-1310. Then, it's another 6 miles to Wahtum Lake Campground and trailheads.

The parking lot and shoulders were full of cars but I found an empty spot near the pit toilet and Ant Hill trailhead.

I'd spent a long time getting there, from Hwy 14 all the way through White Salmon. I considered Hamilton Mountain, Table Mountain, Dog Mountain but kept going east. It was after 2p when I started my hike.

The Hike

Length: 4.35 mi
Elevation gain: 1,014 ft
Moving time: 1:42:55
Total time: 1:53:04
Avg. pace: 23:38
Calories: 907

The weather was really nice, warm and sunny. I took the Express trail to get down to the lake. Still impressive work with the 100s of railroad tie steps. 

I planned on doing a clockwise loop, hitting Chinidere, Tomlike and Ant Hill. 

I passed a few people that were sunbathing and enjoying the water. Then, once in the forest a few groups of hikers. I did see a pair of hikers w/ dogs who asked for directions. I pulled up AllTrails map on my phone and showed one of them where we were on-screen. I assured them that the spur trail connect to the loop back to the campground. I didn't notice the segment dead-ended slightly before the connection. 

I went on my way toward my first stop, Chinidere Mountain. The route is a bunch switchbacks in the trees but the last 100 ft is rocky and exposed. 360 deg views.

After leaving there and heading towards Tomlike, I started to get a little claustrophobic because of the tree canopy and overgrowth; I was also wary of the time, around 3:30 pm. I decided to not try to get to Tomlike and just go back via Ant Hill. As I started up the hill, it just didn't feel right.

I doubled back and took the wider trail. I knew I was foregoing the views from up there. I mentally compared it to the long stretches of canopied-trail in Beacon Rock SP or Forest Park. It make me long for a trail like McNeil or Coldwater or even the first part of Hamilton.

It wasn't a bad choice but I wished I'd used this day for a different hike. I probably won't be back, at least not alone, maybe to show friends.

Top of Chinidere Mountain (Mt Hood)


Wahtum Lake from Chinidere Mtn

Wahtum Lake from Rainy-Wahtum Lake Loop Trail

Mt Adams from Hood River

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Hike: Cathedral Ridge & Ho Rock, Mt Hood, Zigzag, OR

AllTrails map

Getting There

I took Hwy 26 from Portland to Zig Zag and the E Lolo Pass Rd. Turn right onto Muddy Fork Rd. Continue straight onto the 1828 to Top Spur trailhead.

The Hike

Length: 7.88 mi
Elevation gain: 3,330 ft
Moving time: 4:09:19
Avg. pace: 31:38
Calories: 2,197
Total time: 4:48:22

Steps: 23,213
Calories: 3,639
Miles: 10.59
Time: 82 Active Mins
Floors: 304

The Top Spur trail connects to the PCT after 0.2mi. The junction to Timberline Trail #800. After another 0.6mi continue right on Timberline Trail at the junction with McGee Creek Trail #627. It's another 3.5mi to the McNeil Point Shelter. 

selfie from Ho Rock

After Bald Mountain Ridge, there is a small patch of snow lower down and then trail is pretty steep and slippery w/ loose rock, dirt, sand. It looks like I missed the top section of the Timberline Trail that loops around to the McNeil Point Trail and took a more direct route.

View of Mt Hood & Cathedral Ridge from Bald Mtn Ridge

The hike to Ho Rock/Cathedral Ridge is a grueling 0.5mi incline from the shelter. You climb about 700'. It actually levels off a bit once you reach the start of the ridge. From there, the end of the trail is in sight.

Mt Hood from Ho Rock/Cathedral Ridge

When I was there, I dropped my bag off at the first big rock (Ho?) then ventured further to the end. Just in time, I saw a couple sitting and enjoying the view. I backed up quietly out of respect and walked back to my bag to take a break. 

My original plan was just to make it to McNeil but when I got there I still had time to spare so I thought I'd just go as far as I could. A few folks were on their descent so it motivated me to keep going. I'm glad I made the extra push, so worth it.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Hike: Ape Canyon Trail to Pumice Butte, MSH, Cougar, WA

AllTrails map

AllTrails map

Getting There

Take I-5 from Portland to Woodland. It's 23mi from Kenton to the exit 21.

There are a few gas stations to fill up here. 

It's 46.2 miles to the Ape Canyon trailhead and it takes about 1.1 hrs (if you're going the speed limit ;). From WA-503 (out of Woodland) take this passed Merwin, Yale Lakes to the turn off for the following: Ape Caves, June Lake, Climber's Bivouac, Ape & Lava Canyons.

The parking lot was and side road were full. I found a spot off Lava Canyon Road.

The Hike 

Length: 10.99 mi
Elevation gain: 2,277 ft
Moving time: 3:43:32
Avg. pace: 20:20
Calories: 1,970
Total time: 4:14:27 

Steps: 25,048
Zone Mins: 40 (36 Fat Burn, 4 Cardio & Peak)
Floors: 271
Calories: 3,594

The weather perfect for a hike, a bit overcast, in the 60s and good trail conditions. I love this hike because it flanks the 40+ yrs old lahar flow but you get to experience the old forest. It's similar to June Lake hike in that regard. 

I've said it before but this hike is not difficult from the elevation gain but it's a decent length.

I didn't see very many people going up, just one couple, but several on their way down, including several mountain bikers. I didn't start my hike until around 1pm. There weren't many bugs out either but I was ready with spray and itch ointment. I forgot my rain fly and a few times the skies were pretty dark but I did have a compact rain jacket.

When I reached Pumice Butte and trail junction to June Lake I stopped briefly to chat with a woman on her way down. Then, continued north on the Loowit Trail to the creek.

Originally, I'd hoped to make it all the way out to Plains of Abraham and Windy Pass but by the time I reached the creek, it was getting a bit too late. I found a spot to sit, have a snack, and just chill. I have a tendency to go for distance and don't pause enough.

On the way back through Pumice Butte, I found my spot overlooking the lahar field and the trees covering the trail back. I was so peaceful and quit. Not much of a breeze and no bugs.

The hike back to the car was chill and uneventful. I meditated a bit but also made a point to listen to the birds and other sounds. My body felt fine, no knee issues.

MSH from near the top of the trail

Looking SE from the creek

From Pumice Butte

From lower on the trail, lahar flow

Winding trail

Selfie from Pumice Butte

Old tree stump

Another SE view

Rest stop view

Pink mountainheath

Lovely Loowit (MSH)