Sunday, September 25, 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.

The Hike

Length: 9.13 mi
Elevation gain: 2,493 ft
Moving time: 3:36:01
Avg. pace:
Total time:
Steps: 21,385 (Fitbit)
Floors: 248 (Fitbit)
Calories: 3,216 (Fitbit)

It's been a minute since my last visit to Hamilton Mountain.. It was my first hike since the MSH attempt. I was good to reach the top and continue to the Saddle and Little Beacon.

I tried an experiment, somewhat planned, somewhat impromptu.

I didn't eat much and was hemming and hawing for most of the morning. I finally set out on Hwy 14 around 2pm. I got some Gatorade, a sandwich, and a couple of power bar thingies.

As I made my way up the sections, I was feeling a bit worn down, similar to how I felt during the MSH hike. When I reached the switchback under Little Hamilton, I started sipping the Gatorade. I didn't help right away but I feel a little boost and kept forging ahead. I was passed by an older guy and I was catching up to a couple with a dog.

They all pulled away and up the mountain. I saw the older guy on his descent but the couple were headed to the Saddle as well. I passed them on the ridge.

I finished the entire bottle of Gatorade and felt energized.

On Hardy Creek, I passed a guy with a tripod and thought, this guy is going to be hiking in the dark.

I did make it down to Little Beacon just as the sunset was dipping below the horizon, Archer Mountain(?).

Beacon Rock from Little Beacon

Sun setting to the west

Little Beacon

Soon to be muddy trail to Hardy Falls

Gorgeous view of the Saddle and Hamilton Mtn

Requisite Selfie from Little Beacon



Friday, September 16, 2022

Hike: Monitor Ridge Climbing Route and Ptarmigan Trail, Mt St Helens, Cougar, WA


Footpath map

Getting There

I left around 3:30p and made it there just after 5p sometime. I took I-5 North to Woodland. Then WA-503 E toward Cougar. It's about 30 miles to the town and the turn off for Climber's Bivouac is another 3.5 miles.

Follow NF-83 for 3mi. When you get to the clear cut area (ugh!) look for NF-81 and veer left. It's another 1.5mile of pavement to 830 Rd. It's a 1/2 mile to the campground on a dirt road.

I opted to make a cocoon in the back of my Jeep rather than setup a tent etc. I found a level spot this time near the trailhead. 

There were people arriving all night (11p, 1a, 3a, 5a). I didn't sleep very well and I got moving around 6am. I was on the trail at 6:20.

The Hike

Distance: 6.94mi
Elevation: 3,560 ft
Highest Point: 7,289 ft

I passed a few people on the way through the forest. I made good time but I felt a bit sluggish, low energy. A lemon (yellow flag). I forged ahead.

I started the technical stuff above the tree line. I was new but familiar the same time. I tried to visualize the route I took last time and keep track next to the lodge poles.

I could hear a group below me in the fog and see three hikers about 1000 yds ahead of me. I snacked on a cliffbar to try to re-energize but I was taking a lots of micro-breaks.

When I reached the top of the ridge section, I mentally prepared for the boulders. They were a bit daunting but I was stoked to keep reaching the next marker and pushing ahead.

A group passed me but when they stopped to wait for more of their group I kept going.

Eventually I made it out of the boulders and started up the pumice. My legs were pretty heavy at this point. Three hikers passed me and zoomed ahead. I could see the top.

I was taking longer breaks and taking fewer steps between them. I decided to conserve my energy to make a safe descent. The self-imposed pressure to reach the summit was released and I felt better. I am still a bit disappointed to not reach the rim.

In hindsight I think this was largely a nutrition problem. I didn't eat enough of the right foods the night before and in the morning to fuel my body for such an undertaking. I vow to make a third hike next year. It motivates me to keep training and learning about how proper nutrition can really make the difference.

I should have stopped for longer to see if I eating a couple more power bars would have helped. I had plenty of time. 

In the end I made it back to the car around 1:30.. about a 7 hr hike. I didn't have any injuries and didn't need any help. A success in its own right.


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Hike: Stagman Ridge Trail, Mt Adams, WA

Getting There

From Hwy 14 across from Hood River, take WA-141 N.  Follow it for 19.0 mi, then it's a slight right onto Mt Adams Rd (signs for Sno-Parks/Recreation Area). Follow it for 1.3 mi, then continue straight onto Buck Creek Rd/NF-23/Randle Rd. Continue to follow NF-23 for 7.7 mi. Then, it's a slight right onto NF-8031. Follow it for 0.4 mi. Continue straight onto NF-070 for 3.1 mi, then turn right onto NF-120. The trailhead parking lot is 0.8 mi.

The gravel road is in pretty good shape, just a few potholes to keep an eye out for.

I didn't keep track of the time but I took I-84 from Portland. Google Maps estimated the trip to be about 2 hrs.

The Hike

Unfortunately, AllTrails app messed up again and I didn't get a recording of the hike. I was able to reconstruct it with the Footpath app.

Length: 10.6 mi
Elevation gain
: 2,182 ft
: 24,571
: 3,462
: 261
~4 hrs

This was my first hike around the Mt Adams area. I remember exploring somewhere around Trout Lake in my pickup when I first moved to the PacNW in 2003, but I always considered it off-limits to non-Yakamas except by permit, like to climb to the summit.

All these years later, I learned it's only partly true. The west side of the mountain is not on Yakama land and there are a few trails and the PCT passes by. However, the southeast side of the mountain is only open to non-Yakamas for about a month in Sept (Aug 29-Sept 25) for hiking, camping, fishing/hunting by permit. I'm fairly certain that you can get a permit year round for climbing, probably like Mt St Helens.

This was my final hike for the Hike-A-Thon. I considered going to an old favorite (Hamilton Mtn) or finally checking Table Mountain off the list, but I decided a new hike. I looked up Mt Adams and looked up the directions to the trailhead.

I remember my camping trip at Takhlakh Lake a few years back and giving a ride to a resident of Trout Lake.

The 2-hour drive from Portland was comparable to anything around Mt St Helens, from south or north, or even Mt Hood.

I got a later start than I'd have liked in hindsight. I still got to the trail by around 1pm.

The hike starts in the forest but when you get to the ridge, you weave through an old burn. The trees are mostly dead, their limbs wrapped around the trunk like a dead insect. There's not much perceivable elevation gain but in the end, I did ~2000 ft of gain.

There were several pairs of hikers on my ascent; I mentally tried to estimate the groups to the number of cars at the trailhead.

I really didn't know what to expect. It felt a lot like the Vista Ridge or McNeil hikes at Mt Hood. I never made it above the treeline. Looks like it might if you follow the PCT North route.

Around 3pm, I started thinking about turning back. I could see PCT junction so I figured I'd at least make it there. When I got there I looked at the map again and estimated I could actually complete the Lookingglass Lake loop. Seemed like it'd be downhill a bit so could make good time.

Not far from the junction, I passed a group of three. That gave me confidence to keep going. Near the PCT North junction, I passed another pair. I asked them about the loop and continued.

When the trail reached the edge of the ravine and started to down, I had second thoughts. I really didn't know what to expect and it was then around 3:30p. I stopped and went back the way I'd come. Even though it wasn't much longer to retrace my steps, at least I knew the trail.

I passed a guy before I reached the junction. I thought dammit, I could have done the loop. Oh well. Next time.

On the way back I caught up with the pair I'd talked to and eventually passed them on the ridge.

Not much further ahead I reached the trio. I tried to make noise by stepping on twigs and such. I stopped for a min or two to let them get ahead.

They had a dog that had stopped on the trail. I was able to pass them there. 

Back at the car, I sent my "I'm done hiking" message on my InReach. I put it on the bumper while I stowed my gear and changed out of my hiking boots.

I hoped in the car and put on some tunes. A good hike.

About a 1/2 mile I stopped. Fuck, I'd left the InReach on the bumper. I turned around and headed back to the trailhead. I passed two cars. I was pretty sure it had fallen off the bumper just a little ways from my parking spot so I didn't bother looking until I was close. I just hoped that neither of those cars had run it over.

To my relief, I spotted it face down in the gravel just a few feet ahead of my parking spot. Hooray! it has a couple of scratch on the plastic but the screen is fine.

I look forward to going back and exploring some other areas.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Hike: Coldwater Peak via Boundary Trail, Toutle, WA

Getting There

Take I-5 from Portland to Castle Rock. It's 55mi from Kenton to the exit 49. There are a few gas stations to fill up here. 

It's 62 miles to the Johnston Ridge parking lot/trailhead and it takes about 1 hr. 


The Hike

Length: 13.98 mi
Elevation gain: 3,228 ft
Moving time: 5:47:00
Avg. pace: 24:49
Calories: 3,484
Total time: 6:42:58

Steps: 34,316
Calories: 4,419
Miles: 15.76
Active Mins: 147
Floors: 402

This was my 3rd hike for WTA's Hike-a-Thon and my 2nd visit here in '22. Last time I did the hike, I didn't quite make it to the top due to mountain goats and quite a bit of snow. I'd also gotten a late start and was pushing my limit on return time.

The Sunday weather was warm but virtually clear. I'd originally planned to hike to Loowit Falls but just before crossing under Harry's Ridge, I took a detour to Devil's Elbow to get a final look before I had to decide. I could see the waterfall or at least where it should be. I got a good look at the terrain and considered the temperatures, and opted to take a run at Coldwater Peak and get some elevation instead.

My previous visit was on July 2, 2022 and there were still large patches of snow. I wore microspikes from the Coldwater Lake Trail junction and beyond. Nearly two months later, I had dirt the entire way. I looked for the place where I met the mountain goats but it looked different without the snow and all the new vegetation.

At the summit, another hiker was having a snack so waved and kept going to the north end of top. I took off my pack for a bit and took some photos. 

When I did the hike on July 8, 2021, a thick cloud bank had rolled in and enveloped the peak and valley below MSH. The weather had been clear on the hike out there. I waited up there for 10-15mins but it didn't budge. About 1/2 way down to the Boundary trail, the fog rolled out. I considered going back up but I needed to start heading back.

This time the weather was amazing. I could see all the Cascade Peaks: Mt Rainier, Mt Adams, Mt Hood, of course Mt St Helens.

On my descent I passed a couple that were heading to the top but looked tired. I tried to be encouraging and cheerful and mentioned that "the Man of the Mountain will keep them company". If they didn't know I was referring the hundreds of white pasqueflowers that were growing on the mountainside, it might have sounded like a creepy thing to hear from a rando hiker. LOL.

My visit wouldn't have been complete without a stop at Harry's Ridge. There was a couple top of the ridge, the woman taking photos. I meandered around for a bit and they eventually started on their way. I had the place to myself for awhile. A group of four were winding their way up the ridge but not quickly. I was so quiet and peaceful. Just the buzzing of a few flies, the blowing of the wind but nothing else.


Coldwater Peak

Coldwater Peak

Selfie w/ Loowit

Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier


Mt Adams

St Helens Lake & Mt Adams

Johnston Ridge

Mt Adams

Coldwater Peak

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Hike: Silver Star Mountain via Grouse Trail, Washougal, WA

AllTrails maps

Getting There

I took L-1200 out of Washougal to get there. It's 7 miles up a gravel road from the end of the pavement on Skamania Mines Road and it's 18 miles from Washougal. You can also reach the trailhead from the north via Yacolt.


The Hike

Length: 8.14 mi
Elevation gain: 2,539 ft
Moving time: 3:38:58
Total time: 3:54:39
Avg. pace
: 26:54
Calories: 1,929
This was my third time up this trail. The weather was amazing. Not too hot, very few bugs, trail was mostly free of obstructions like overgrowth and trees. The first hill is long and rocky and could be tedious but there are a lot of decisions to make, i.e. picking a route through the rocks.

I took a look at a side trail around Pyramid Rock and got some elevation. On my previous visits, the weather has been a little overcast so it was great to get above the trees and see outcrops above.

There are a lot of folks enjoying the views at the top. I did stop for a 10-15 mins to eat part of a sandwich and take some photos. I also had to change into a dry shirt.

I started down the trail to Sturgeon Rock. According to the map, there is another trail which I looked at but it was overgrown. I tried the more direct route but found it pretty steep and rocky, like a creek bed. I just didn't want to lose the elevation and decided to stick to the main trail.

On the map, you can make a cool loop by detouring to Sturgeon Rock then descending down to Tarbell Trail which reconnects with the Grouse Trail a few hundred feet from the trailhead and L-1200.

Grouse Trail

Looking west

Pyramid Rock (fg), Sturgeon Rock (bg/L), Silver Star Mtn (bg/R)

Mount Hood (Wy'est)(L), tip of Jefferson Mtn (R)

Sturgeon Rock
Silver Star and Mt St Helens (R)

Pano of Pyramid Rock

Pano from Silver Star Mtn