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)

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Hike: Coldwater Peak Trail via Boundary Trail, Johnson Ridge Observatory, MSH

AllTrails map
AllTrails map

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 (if you're going the speed limit ;). 

There's was dense fog in spots, so heavy that I put on my hazard lights to be more visible to cars coming up behind me.

This lot had quite a few cars compared to the last few visits. It was 4th of July weekend.

AllTrails map

The Hike

Length: 10.82 mi
Elevation gain: 2,365 ft
Moving time: 4:10:29
Total time: 4:43:00
Avg. pace: 23:09
Calories: 2,207

25,998 steps
42 zone mins
330 floors
3,758 calories

I really didn't plan on going up to Coldwater Peak. When I got junction for Harry's Ridge the fog was pretty thick.

I figured I'd see how far I could get. There are recent trail reports saying the snow was still making it difficult to follow the trail. I had microspikes and poles so I made a go of it. 

I passed a couple coming down the trail. Every time I see other hikes, it gives me confidence to keep going. The snow was minimal where I expected it. There were some patches but with good foot holes it wasn't any problem.

The only place I was nervous was near the Hole in the Rock. The foot holes weren't great and the slope was 40 degs and about a 50 foot slide into trees. I envisioned busted ankles or worse, esp. since there was a group of about 8 people on the lookout above.

I made it across safely and continued on my way. More hikers coming in the other direction.

I noticed virtually no one was were decent footwear. Mostly trail shoes. I kept my microspikes even on the dirt.

I keep an eye on the clock. I wanted to be heading back by 3pm. I was also weighing the fact that there were some challenges on the return trip, and my fitness level.

I reached the Coldwater Peak junction about like 3:10p. I rationalized that I could go until 3:30p. I started the final ascent. I passed a couple there were not prepared. No poles, or appropriate footwear. I made good progress until about a 1/3rd of the way up.

I saw a mountain goat in the bushes so stopped to look and assess my route. I was jumping switchbacks by climbing up the steep, muddy hillside. I noticed lots of poop and deep holes with vaguely recognizable hoof marks. 

Suddenly I caught a glimpse of a large buck in the direction I was heading. I instantly got a little spooked. I was definitely outmatched on this terrain, even with poles and microspikes. The buck looked imposing and glared in my direction.

As I retreated down the hill a bit, I realized the other goat I'd seen was trying to catch up with the buck. When I was far enough away, it ran to join the buck. There might have been others in the herd. The big buck keep an eye on me. 

It was now like 3:30p and I just didn't think it was worth reaching the summit. I started my descent. There was another solo hiker. I stopped to mention the buck. I reached the couple from earlier and told them as well and that it was long hike back.

My legs and knees were feeling good but I wanted the have plenty of sunlight. The fog was darkening up things quite a bit. I'm glad I had some extra layers.

By the time I reached the Harry's Ridge junction, it was pretty dark from the fog. To my surprise, there were still hikers heading out. It was about 4:45p.

The hills weren't bad, I made quick work of the first climb out and then the long series of hills back to the trailhead.

I made I back to the car at 6pm. I thought about the solo hiker and couple at Coldwater Peak. I hope their hikes back were okay.

Heavy fog to the south west

Saint Helens Lake

Mt St Helens

Saint Helens Lake

Mt Adams and corner of Spirit Lake

Mt St Helens

Hole in the Rock

Spirit Lake and Mt St Helens

Coldwater Peak and Saint Helens Lake

Saint Helens Lake

Mt St Helens, fog in the valley