Monday, May 31, 2021

Hike: Hardy Creek-Hamilton Mountain, Bonneville, WA


AllTrails map

Length: 9.28 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,467 feet
Type: Loop
Steps: ~22,877

Getting There

I could have gone anywhere. Walking around Sauvie Island was cool but I wanted some elevation gain. After learning about the Saddle and the other trails around Beacon Rock, it wanted to "conquer" the places I'd missed.

If it was crazy to go on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, what about going on the actual day! May 31, 2021. Just like Saturday, when I got to Beacon Rock there were cars everywhere and dozens walking up to the trailhead; the weather was amazing. I took a chance on parking anyway. 

Score! Again, only cars/people with WA Discover Pass into the parking lot. I got the last spot (at the time; lots of turnover). Hell yea!

The Hike

The trail was dry in spots it's been muddy on the last couple of visits, same as last time (Saturday). The Staircase at Rodney Falls was a bit muddy.

After Rodney Falls, I took the Hardy Creek Trail. This is amazing. Not too steep. Nice gradual climb deeper into the forest. You can hear the water but not any easy views. 

When I got to the Equestrian Trail junction, I kept going north up Upper Hardy Creek. I stopped briefly at Don's Cutoff trail and the Bridge Trail. I could hear some people taking photos and laughing.

Upward and onward.

There was another trail toward the end of the loop but it's not named on AllTrails. I stayed on the named trail.

I finally reached the other end of that spur trail; it wouldn't have saved much time and was pretty overgrown.

I didn't take any photos along the way but when got to the Saddle I had to get out my camera.

Emerging from the Upper Hardy Creek trail to Saddle

Hamilton Saddle

Bonneville Dam

Look back at trail junction

Saddle Pano


Table Mountain

Looking west at Columbia River

The trail between the Saddle and the top of Hamilton Mountain is pretty steep, the last uphill climb before a great descent.

It was very rewarding to reach the "top", having come from the other direction.

The views were just as amazing as Saturday. I took the Little Hamilton detour again. There were a few people chillin'. I waved and keep going.

AllTrails: Explore Hamilton Mountain Trail and Hardy Creek & Upper Hardy Creek | AllTrails

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Hike: The Narrows & Mud Lake, Sauvie Island, OR


Length: 4.14 miles
Elevation Gain: negligible
Type: Out & Back
Steps: 9,064

Getting There

My legs were a bit sore from the hike the day before. It felt good to get out on such a nice day. The Wapato Trail parking lot was full so I keep going. I was just planning to see how far up the road I could get. The gate was closed right after the pavement last time I drove there (a few weeks ago?).

I barely made it to the dirt road because I had to relieve myself. Whew! 

I drove into the park and cruised along. Pretty mellow for a holiday weekend. Good! 

I saw a sign about Rules & Regs near the trap shooting range. I was the only car. I saw two tires tracks disappear around a corner. Looked hike-able. I wondered if it'd get close to the cattle that were grazing. It was a bit weary.

The Hike

I suited up with my boots, poles and snacks. Donned my straw hat and put a layer of sunscreen on my tattooed arms.

I quickly found a marker that said 1-4 this way (with an arrow) and 5-6. I had no idea but I figured it was trail marker.

Some jackass nearby was letting their puppy bark and bark and bark and bark and bark. It was incessant. It was far away but shattered the otherwise peaceful scene. I broke and hollered for them to STFU! I decided to go in the other direction. I was dismayed to find so many shotgun shells on the ground. Fuck heads!

I found the first bird blind. I thought how cool it was but realized it was for killing birds not watching them. It was numbered #5.

As I made my way along the Narrows, I found #4, 3, 2, and finally #1.

I saw some cranes (white ones). Lots of birds but no fowl. 

A family in a canoe stopped briefly at the shore of West Arm/Steelman Lake. 

I had to turn around because the lake had overrun the road. I could have gone to the point but would have gotten my boots wet & muddy.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Hike: Hamilton Mountain III, Bonneville, WA


AllTrails map

Length: 6.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,060 feet
Type: Out & Back
Steps: ~22,311

Getting There

I'm really starting to get familiar with this route on Hwy 14. I stop in Camas to fuel up and get snacks. Then, I cruise out passed Washougal. From the edge of town, it's about 10 min to the Cape Horn Trailhead and 20 min to Beacon Rock & Hamilton Mountain.

When I got to Beacon Rock there were cars everywhere and dozens walking up to the trailhead; the weather was amazing and it was a holiday weekend. I took a chance on parking anyway. 

Score! Only cars/people with WA Discover Pass into the parking lot. I got the last spot (at the time; lots of turnover).

The Hike

The trail was dry in spots it's been muddy on the last couple of visits. The Staircase at Rodney Falls was even pretty good.

As usual, the crowds quickly thinned out above the falls. I felt good on the way up to Little Hamilton and beyond.

When I reached the "top", it had a snack and water but the bugs were pestering me a bit. (Note to self: bring bug spray and/or mosquito net. I ventured down the trail (north) but stopped after 100 yds.

It took about 2 hrs to walk up and about 1.5 hrs on the way down.

On the way down, I ventured out on the Little Hamilton, above the rocks I'd stopped at below. Holy Cow! Amazing views.

Beacon Rock & Columbia River from Little Hamilton

Bonneville Dam

(Big) Hamilton Mountain

Selfie w/ Bonneville Dam

pano (south view)

U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey marker

AllTrails: Explore Hamilton Mountain Trail | AllTrails


Mea culpa: A group of four near the top asked about a "loop". I told them I only know about the "up & back" route, per AllTrails; the Hamilton Mountain Trail. My remark about checking the trail map lines on their phone (GPS) was meant to sound encouraging but probably came off as sarcastic.

Well, it turns out there *IS* a loop. The Saddle, Hardy Creek. Oops.

This faux pax was the motivation to do my research and return to "conquer" the loop.

Update: I'm ready to be a great trail guide having hike the entire loop system (mostly; minus spur trails).

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Hike: Boundary, Meadow, Confluence, and Sandy River Delta Loop, Troutdale, OR

AllTrails map

Length: 5.66 miles (Loop 3.3mi plus more)
Elevation Gain: 59 feet
Type: Loop
Steps: ~12,393

Getting There

I stopped at the Subway at Cascade Station. I was thinking about popping into Target to get some sundries but I didn't have a solid list so bailed and drove out to Sandy.

It was raining when pulled into the nearly empty lot. Even as I sat there, I wasn't sure if I was going to hike or take off.

The Hike

I had to get out to get my rain coat. I knew then that I was going in my Keens and leaving the hiking boots in the car. I zipped up and locked up. I noticed a parking pass was required so I grabbed my Oregon State Park pass out of the glove box and put it on the dash.

I went for the Boundary Trail. I was trying to find the junction I found last time I was out there but I never did. I keep going along the edge of the park toward the bird blind. There were tons of puddles but most of the ground was hard packed soil or clay. I found a few surprise spots of mud but didn't slip n fall.
I was able to take off my rain coat for awhile the another downpour happens. I was getting drenched on my legs. I expected it and welcomed the water. 

I made a quick spot at the bird blind but made my way back to the Boundary Trail instead of following the channel like usual.

When I got back to the power lines, I went for a look at the cove where people let their dogs play in the water. I followed the shore as long as I could. On the way back, a large dog (50+ lbs) came running toward me. I didn't see the owner. (Last time I was there, a dog jumped up on me with its tail wagging; the owners were mortified and apologetic). I wasn't sure if this dog was going to do the same or bite me or what.

He skimmed by and tried to lick my hand. The owner appeared and called to the dog who obeyed. She didn't say a word to me and took off down the trail. So weird. 

I was going to take the same trail and figured the woman and her dog was trotted off however I was only a few feet in when I saw here stopped. The trail was narrow and overgrown with foliage. I quickly surmised that I didn't want another encounter with that dog and not in a narrow area in the trees.

I turned on my heels and walked away as casually and quietly as possible. I headed back to the power lines where I had detoured. There was a couple with two dogs who made not effort to control the dogs nor assure me that they were "friendly". Weird. Fuck those people. (I encountered more dog n owner pairs, once with two on-leash dogs and one with off-leash who stopped, grabbed the dog's collar and left me pass; responsible owners!)

I got to the meadow near the parking lot and didn't want my walk to end so early. I keep going toward the Sandy River. I saw a sign somewhere that said "0.3 mile to Sandy River". It was easy walking but came across a burnt log that was deliberately placed across the trail. There were and probably still are homeless people living in the park somewhere on the west edge. 

The further I went, the more spur and side trails I found. It was getting difficult to know which one was the "0.3mi trail". I'd left my phone in the car cuz the battery was low. I had no GPS to help me get back. I decided it wasn't worth it and didn't want to stumble into someone's camp. (I suspect the rude lady with did was a "resident" and scouting for "stuff" and not a casual hiker with her dog.)

I finally headed toward the parking lot and didn't really see anymore people.
It was a refreshing "hike" even though I prefer some vertical on my treks. 
Not bad for some exercise: 5 1/2 miles + 12K steps.


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Hike + Road Trip: Neahkahnie Lookout, Nehalem, OR

AllTrails map

Length: 2.8 miles
Elevation Gain: ~ 905 feet
Type: Out & Back
Steps: ~10,000

Getting There

I left Portland with a vague plan of where I was heading. Once I was got to North Plains, I knew I was going for a hike. I kinda of wanted to see the ocean but I knew that Saddle Mountain had recently reopened after being closed for several years(? or maybe just since the pandemic).

When I got to the Saddle Mtn turn off, I kept going. Another time. Neahkahnie Mtn was my destination.

Then, when I got the Necanicum Hwy (53) I took it to Hwy 101 (Nehalem, Wheeler, Mohler). The tank was running low on fuel but still had ~100 mi worth in the tank so kept going.

I've hiked from the North Trailhead so I made that my goal. There was a car following pretty closely and I passed by looking for a place to turn around. I went all the way to the Oswald West State Park lot to do a U-ee.

It wasn't until I was parked at the trailhead that I noticed it was closed. I'd seen the sign for the South Trailhead and headed there.

Up the gravel road I see a few cars and an open space and took it. I realized when I got out to get suited up that there was a larger parking lot ahead.

The Hike

The trail was muddy and overgrown in spots and kept at eye open for poison oak. There might have been some that I missed but it was mostly ferns and other broad leafed plants. I used my hiking pole to whack the lowest branches.

I only saw three people in the first 2/3rd of the trail. Then a few more groups on the way to the lookout.

I completely missed a 180 deg turn and started climbing under and over fallen trees. The trail was barely visible and it was getting sketchy. I heard a couple of voice from above so guessed I'd missed a turn somewhere close.

I did but I never saw the people whose voices I'd heard.

I saw the ridge to the lookout but it was blocked by a couple of downed trees. I thought maybe there was another access trail and keep trekking. Unfortunately my phone battery was low so I wanted to save juice for some photos but quickly checked the map and found I'd had in passed the junction.

I had the lookout to myself. I chilled out for about 10mins.

Requisite selfie

U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey marker (1926)

View of Nehalem from the first clearing

View of Nehalem Point


I rarely backtrack on these trips so I started north to either take Hwy 26 or Hwy 30. I still needed fuel for the return trip. I guess I've never paid attention that Cannon Beach does not have a gas station. It was cool to take a spin through town but knew I'd have to get into Seaside if I was going to take Hwy 26.

Traffic wasn't bad and the weather was nice. I zoomed by gas stations that were on the left side of the street. I quickly realized that I could make it to Astoria so I stopped looking.

I finally found a self-service place on the east side of town.

My perception of the drive between Astoria and Portland varies. This time it seemed to go on and on. Sometimes I'll hop on I-5 at Longview but not this trip.

I came across the St John's bridge and got stopped for about 15min at a train crossing on N Columbia Blvd.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Hike: Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Ridgefield, WA


AllTrails map

Length: 4.42 miles
Elevation Gain: 88 feet
Type: Loop
Steps: 9,681

Getting There

I was just out on a field trip. I left my place and drove north into Vancouver toward the lake. I wasn't exactly looking for Ridgefield but wound up at the boat launch. 

⌘ Vintage Swing Bench Park - Google Maps

From there I drove north and found the construction for the new visitor center at the trailhead. I figured I'd scope it out.

The Hike

The trails starts with this bridge, gently curving into the wetlands. I took the first trail that I found. In hindsight I should have stuck to the main trail as there was a "go around" sign at the bottom of the 'shortcut'. LOL.

As usual, I didn't check any trail maps ahead of time so I was just going. I quickly realized that it was more or less a straight line alone Carty Lake to the boat launch where I had stopped earlier.

I didn't realize it at the time but near the boat ramp was a nesting killdeer. The sign only had writing on one side. When I approached unknowingly the killdeer chirps insistently and charged at me on the ground. Cute. I kinda wondered if the bird was injured. I gave a wide berth and keep walking.

I quickly found the end of the trail and realized it was not a loop so I headed back on the same trail toward the trailhead. This time I saw the sign about a "nesting killdeer". Ohhhh. Sorry fella.

Bridge at trailhead

Wetlands, Carty Lake

Carty Lake

Carty Lake trail

Protective bird

I got back to my "shortcut" but stayed on the main trail. I passed a couple taking a picture of their kid sitting on a tree branch. The kid was screaming, terrified. That's gonna be a great photo.

I passed the Cathlapotle Plankhouse and kept going. The Oaks to Wetlands Trail Loop was still a one-way loop for social distancing. 

To be honest, the area kind of looked 'messy'. Looks like several trees had fallen and the refuge crews were still in the process of restoring the area. It was still good to be outside and walking around the flora and fauna, mostly birds.

The loop is short so I was done fairly quickly. I passed the Cathlapotle Plankhouse again and noticed two people there sitting at a table. I had planned to take some photos but seemed like it is a museum or something. I didn't want to talk to anyone so keep going. 

In hindsight I regret not stopping. It's not like I was obligated to buy something or whatever. Weird.

Oaks to Wetlands Trail

Oaks to Wetlands Trail

Oaks to Wetlands Trail

Friday, May 14, 2021

Hike: Cooper Mountain Nature Park, Beaverton, OR


AllTrails map

Length: 6.28 miles
Elevation Gain: 426 feet
Type: Loop
Steps: 13,771

Getting There

This place is just minutes from Beaverton off SW Farmington Road. Take SW Grabhorn Road to SW Gassner Road. Then turn onto SW 190th and take it until it turns into SW Kemmer. It's not a bad as it sounds. (There's another route from SW 175th.)

The parking lot is pretty limited but they have a dirt lot for overflow. I was the second car in this lot. I stopped here before but only explored the trail a few feet.

The Hike

I started down Little Prairie Loop and took it to the end. The trail system is mostly one-way for social distancing but a bit confusing and I found myself back at the junction near the trailhead.

This time, instead of Prairie Loop, I took the Cooper Mountain loop. There another intersection both marked Cooper Mtn Trail. I took the one that was went downhill. Again I hit a one-way sign that was directing me toward Little Prairie Loop again.

I did a 180 and marched back up to the intersection. I found the loop I wanted and followed it all the way down the hill. Beautiful views of farms in the distance and wildflowers and meadows in the foreground.

Not wanting to miss any parts, I took the Larkspur Loop trail. It's a one-way trail and I passed an older guy going the 'wrong' way. I waved and kept going. The backside of the loop is a steep hill so guessing the gentleman wasn't up for that park.

From there the trail turns into Blacktail Way. I passed the intersection where I had to do the 180.

I did that little section of Little Prairie again and returned to my car.

Toughleaf Iris

AllTrails says the loop is 2.6 miles but my FitBit recorded 6.28. I know I backtracked quite a bit but wondering if I forgot another stop where I got some steps in. I'm going with recorded data for now.