Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Hike: Forest Park (Firelane 12, 15, Wildwood, Newton Road, BPA) VII, Portland, OR

AllTrails map

Getting There

There is room for a few cars on the side of the road at the Skyline Blvd trailhead (Firelane 15). It's about 1.6mi north of NW Germantown Road on NW Skyline Blvd. Today there were like 7-8 cars, unusual for a weekday or even on the weekend.

The Hike

Distance: 8.55 mi
Elevation Gain:
1,847 ft
Calories: 1,594
Avg Pace:
Moving Time: 3:00:55
Total Time:

This is my 7th hike in this section of Forest Park from the Skyline Trailhead and 12th hike on the north end of the park.

Still not much flowing water at the Firelane 12-15 junction considering the recent change of weather. Same with Newton Creek. There are definitely some puddling on the trail and a few slippery spots, including exposed roots & rocks. I met a Park Ranger just finishing up clearing a fallen tree across the trail on Wildwood.

Oh, and I encountered a huge group of hikers just climbing the hill at the Wildwood-Firelane 15 junction. They all must have driven separately (and I realize the hypocrisy since all I do is solo hike.)

I wanted a little extra mileage and elevation gain so I added a little extra to my usual loop. Where Wildwood intersects with Newton Road, instead of turning left and going straight downhill I turned right on Newton Road and walked beyond the Newton Road Trailhead until I found Wildwood again. Then backtracked to the Wildwood & Newton Road and resumed my usual route.

The air in the valley looked gray and awful but I felt pretty good. I passed by that old guy I'd seen earlier this past summer. He was by himself this time. An inspiration to keep walking even when your body is declining.

I met a girl with three dogs and commented about the "pack leader". She laughed. I noticed she'd dropped her little container of poop bags so I grabbed 'em and handed them back. It was like a recreation of the Creation of Adam; we were a little too far from each other for a clean hand-off so we were both stretching & straining. An extra step would have made things much easier. I'll replay this awkward moment in my head for awhile. Ugh.

I made a good time going up despite my decreased activity in Oct. I did this section of the BPA Road in ~25 mins, about the same as previous times. Also, my Total Time is the same as my Moving Time so I really didn't stop anywhere to rest. Nice calorie burn.

My 2021 Totals

I'm at 58 hikes, 370.9 mi hiked, and 87,724 ft of elevation gain.

I'm 17 hikes short of my goal of 75. I'm 129.1 mi short of 500 miles and just 12,276 ft short of 100,000 feet of elevation gain.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Hike: Cape Horn Loop Trail, Washougal, WA

AllTrails app

Getting There

The Trailhead parking lot is 18min (14.1mi) from the Camas Chevron off Hwy 14. It's about 1.5mi to the Salmon Falls Park & Ride from the Cape Horn Lookout.

The Hike

Distance: 6.43 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,378 ft
Moving Time: 2:23:23
Avg Pace: 22:19
Calories: 1,263
Total Time: 2:36:15

I did the full loop on Aug 15th, when I took the clockwise directions. This time I opted for the counterclockwise direction.

Basically you are front-loading the elevation gain right at the start of the hike. The end of the hike is a gradual 1.5mi incline so it's not really challenging from the cardio pov.

The trail was a bit muddy and slippery but managed to keep it all on the bottom of my feet!

The climb up through the scree section was pretty cool, nice lighting. 

Near the end of the trail is a large fallen tree. It's a little tricky climbing over. The tip crossed the trail as well.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Hike: Forest Park (Firelane 12, 15, Wildwood, BPA) VI, Portland, OR

AllTrails map

Getting There

There is room for a few cars on the side of the road at the Skyline Blvd trailhead (Firelane 15). It's about 1.6mi north of NW Germantown Road on NW Skyline Blvd. 

The Hike

Distance: 7.03 mi
Elevation Gain:
1,427 ft
Calories: 1,185
Avg Pace:
Moving Time: 2:14:31
Total Time:

This is my 6th hike in this section of Forest Park.

Actually I was surprised by the lack of flowing water at the Firelane 12-15 junction considering the recent change of weather. There are definitely some puddling on the trail and a few slippery spots, including exposed roots & rocks. 

I wanted to change things up for this hike. I usually go counterclockwise (Firelane 15, Wildwood, Newton Rd/Creek, BPA Rd). This time I thought I’d take the side road (Firelane 13) instead of BPA Rd. I confidently descended down this new route without looking at the map! I presumed it would pop out about 1/2 way down BPA Rd. Unfortunately I found myself at a dead end. I looked at the map. Nope. I was close to Hwy 30 but it was pure bushwhacking. The other road also dead ends before the bottom. 

So I walked back up to the BPA Rd. I scrapped the plan to go down to Newton Creek and the clockwise route. I got a good workout. I walked back towards Wildwood. 

For a little extra exercise I hiked up to the BPA trailhead on NW Skyline then backtracked to Wildwood. Then returned via Firelane 15. 

Good stuff. Lots of birds out.


Friday, October 8, 2021

Hike: Hamilton Mountain, N Bonneville, WA


AllTrails map

Getting There

See previous posts for directions. Spring for the annual Discover Pass for $30/yr instead of paying $10/day at the trailhead.

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: 5.43 miles 
Elevation Gain: 2,064 ft
Type: Up-n-back

This is only my 2nd hike since the MSH three weeks ago. I'm definitely feeling the effects of my inactivity. I was laboring on this hike a bit, my heart rate was pretty high so I really slowed down my pace. It made me a bit worried actually. I felt the same way about 13 days ago when I hiked Phlox Point.

While I was aware of any immediate air quality issues in the Gorge, it seems a bit hazy. I attributed my shortness of breath on that. There really isn't any AQI reporting nodes east of Gresham.

I have this mountain down pat. From a previous post, it is 8 sections to the top:

  8. Green: Top of bare rock to Summit
    - 14 turns (7 rights, 7 lefts)
  7. Indigo: Bare Rock 
  6. Aqua: To bottom of bare rock
  5. Pink: Little Ham. switchbacks
  4. Green: To bottom of Little Ham.
     - 3 sections
  3. Yellow: To Lookout
  2. Blue: To Rodney Falls
  1. Purple: To Power lines


As I continued this very familiar hike, I caught myself thinking "well, I need to hike more often 'cuz I'm winded and it's okay if I don't reach the top." I had this thought midway through the ash field at MSH; I thought "it's an accomplishment to just reach this far" for a few beats before pushing forward (up and on).

It's an interesting way to measure my fitness and state of my joints & muscles. But it's also weird to not being able to tackle it with same energy as earlier in the summer. It's the weather, it could be air quality, I went from 2-3 hike a week in June, July, August to one every couple of weeks and in between I'm home-bound.

I can see the correlation between my activity and my fitness. It should alarm me more but it's a reality, at least at the moment. Working from home removes the separation between office hours and personal time.

I realize that all the momentum from this summer is difficult to sustain. I see accounts I follow on IG and they are bagging peaks nonstop. It's hard to know if they are just trickling photos from past trips or are really just hiking every single week. I know a local friend really is hiking a lot and he's bagged some amazing peaks. 

Same with Roberto Moiola (a distant cousin with whom I share a name). He is an amazing landscape photographer with penchant for remote, snowy places. None of that is possible without a certain level of fitness but also drive & passion.

The tagline on my RTAH website is "I travel & hike to find awesome places to photograph and write about." I hope I can continue to make this statement truthfully, whether financially, physically, psychologically.