Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Hike: Dog Mountain, Carson, WA

AllTrails map

Getting There

I took WA-14 eastbound from Vancouver, WA. It's 54 miles from Vancouver and 6.2 miles from the Carson turnoff/round-about.

Note: "A Dog Mountain Trail System Permit is required April 23 through June 12 (Saturday and Sunday only)." -

I took Hwy 84 to Hood River. At the toll bridge I got some gas and snacks. The Dog Mtn parking lot only had about 4-5 cars. There was a Jeep so I gifted my yellow duckie.

I've been wanted to do this hike but poor air quality has been thwarting my plans these past few weeks. I was glad to have good weather, no wind, and low AQI.

The Hike

Length: 6.12 mi
Elevation gain: 2,756 ft
Moving time: 2:56:27
Total time: 3:19:11
Avg. pace: 28:49
Calories: 1,773

This was my fourth visit and first time there without snow! 

I was prepared for snowy conditions but I could tell from the view from Hwy 84 that there was virtually no snow. I'd also read some trail reports that confirmed the same.

I packed my winter jacket but wore my light jacket.

About 3 - 4 switchbacks up, I stopped to take off my fleece vest and wrapped my light jacket around my waist. I saw a few hikers coming down that were dressed like it was spring.

The sky was clear when left the parking lot but was cloudy when I reached the viewpoint at 1600'. I pressed on and was rewarded with some nice views of the Gorge & Columbia River below and a sunlit Mt St Helens to the northwest. 

Some remnants of the snow from earlier in the month lined the edge. Above Puppy Dog Point is pretty muddy. I chatted with a pair of hikers at the top who'd done Augspurger Trail. 

I made good time on my descent though my hamstrings and IT band were pretty unhappy.

Final Note

The Jeep I'd "ducked" was still there when I got back to the parking lot. It was the guy from the top that I'd chatted with. Unfortunately, his rear window was smashed and thieves had stolen some gear worth a few hundred dollars.

Luckily, my own Jeep was spared and untouched. Since being broken into in the Pearl, I'd gotten into the habit of removing all unnecessary stuff and stashing the rest out of view. In fact, I'd put my extra jacket and snow shoes under the back seat. My glove box and center console were also locked. After a coworker's motorcycle was stolen, I'd purchased a 2nd Club so I use both these days.

Sucks how prevalent break-ins has become at trailheads everywhere. I'd naively thought that the high visibility of this parking lot would be a deterrent but suppose it's not hard to blend in and wait for lulls in traffic to smash n grab.

Besides my preventive measures, I'm not sure what else you can do. It makes me wary about this parking lot and anecdotal stories about burglars hitting a bunch of cars at once. I know places like Angel's Rest have places with good cover for thieves and easy access to the Hwy 84 for quick getaway, making it risky.

On the contrary, places like Silver Star Mountain are remote and probably not targets for most low level thugs. However, the remoteness is also deceivingly safe.

In the end, you can't stop living and enjoy things. It's a violation of personal space but it's also just stuff. Fuck thieves and vandals. But I will probably hike Dog Mountain again in the future. Cross my fingers that I don't have to deal with a break-in. Argh. Sigh.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Hike: Lewis & Clark Discovery Greenway Trail, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge II, Washougal, WA

Looking west; Columbia River

Getting There

Take Hwy 14 E from Vancouver, WA (Downtown) for about 20 miles. The newly opened parking lot is located 1.5mi from the 32nd St roundabout, on the right (south). There's room about 15 cars and one bus. (There's a pit toilet as well.)


Originally, I was heading into the Gorge to hike Hamilton or Dog Mountain but when I got on Hwy 14 in Vancouver I could see the air was a hazy brown. I checked my AQI app and it showed 75+. Furthermore, the wind was really blowing. I was concerned about trees coming down on the highway and on the trail.

Before Cape Horn I doubled back and aborted my plan. I was deja vu from last weekend when I did the same thing and ended up going to the coast where there was breathable air.

I didn't want to spend a lot of time in the car so I figured I'd at least get some exercise at Steigerwald Lake. There were only a few cars in the lot.

The Hike

Length: 7.21 mi
Elevation gain: 138 ft
Moving time: 1:59:51
Total time: 2:04:17
Avg. pace: 16:37
Calories: 1,204

See previous post from May 1st, 2022 for some more details.

It was pretty cold even the sun was shining bright. I donned my winter jacket, light gloves, and beanie. I left my poles behind. 

On the ridge/levee from the parking lot to the Lewis & Clark Discovery Greenway Trail, the wind was strong enough that I had to lean into it.

On the straightaway, it was a strong headwind.

I passed a woman with two friendly dogs. She was trying to get them to stop jumping up but I didn't care. I pet the pupper away and laughed.

Near the east side of the closed Art Trail where it dips down a bit, there wasn't any wind; a nice reprieve. 

On the first bridge, next to the Art Trail, there were two metal Chinook salmon sculptures hanging off the side. Both were getting tossed around by the wind and bashing into the side of the railing.

In the ditch heading to the river, a deer was stopped about 100 ft away, just turning its head.

I could see small flocks of birds trying to fly but they couldn't go very far before having to set down again.

I walked all the way to the M bar J ranch fence.

On the way back to took the detour to Redtail Lake. Unfortunately, the large, bronze insects were not on the display on the 2nd bridge. Maybe there are removed when the Art Trail is closed. I made a comment on my AllTrails post.

AllTrails map

Columbia River (in distance: Mt Hood, Crown Point)

Redtail Lake without much water

Photography fun; Redtail Lake bridge

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Hike: North Neahkahnie Mountain Trail, Nehalem, OR


Getting There

Originally I was heading to Dog Mountain the Gorge but when I started the drive I realized the air quality in the area was crap! The AQI on Hwy 14/Vancouver was 130+. I turned around before getting to Camas.

I looked at the AQI map and saw that only the coast had breathable air. Fuck!

I considered God's Thumb in Lincoln City but was already late to start. I knew a drive to the coast was going to take over an hour. I figured Neahkahnie Mtn was a good bet.

I stopped for gas and this awesome dog (bulldog?) brought me his toy. He put his left paw on my foot. His owner scolded him to get off my foot but the pup ignored it. I pet the dog a bit and laughed. When the fuel was pumped I followed the owner inside to pay. I apologized to the dog for not playing with him.

When I finished paying, I walked back outside to my car. Another driver arrived. The dog was already on his way to greet this new person and present this toy.

The drive was nice. No tailgaters.

I took OR-53 to Wheeler. This was easier than going all the way to Hwy 101, then south to Short Sands.

Since the North Trail was closed last year, I figured I'd head up the South side. I pulled over at the turnoff and looked at the AllTrails. There was a trail report from the day before. Woohoo.

I continued north on 101 to the trailhead parking lot and found a spot.

The Hike

Length: 4.60 mi
Elevation gain: 1,253 ft
Moving time: 1:54:15
Avg. pace: 24:51
Calories: 1,148
Total time: 1:59:43

I hadn't hiked this trail since my early days in Portland. On my blog I put April 10, 2009 but I really have no idea. It could be even longer.

The first section is steep and the views are great. I passed 6-7 other hikes on their descent.

When I got to forest section, I could see why the trail was closed for so long. There were freshly-cut logs everywhere; big trees, like 24" - 36"+ in diameter.

"The section of trail between the North Neahkahnie Mountain Trailhead and the Neahkahnie Mountain Viewpoint had been closed since September 2020 due to considerable blowdown from a windstorm. Thanks to the hard work of Trailkeepers of Oregon volunteers and our partners, this trail has officially been reopened to the public as of October 2022!" 

The route was longer than I remembered and I thought was near the Lookout several times on the trail. I felt the sunlight was waning and felt rushed.

I made it to the Lookout and got some amazing photos (see below). I only spent a few mins before setting out on my descent. I wanted to get through the forest section before the sun set.

When I got to edge of the forest, I sighed some relief to make to where I didn't have to worry about daylight, it was the home stretch.

On the switchbacks, I enjoy the views and setting sun.

So good to be back on the this trail. Success despite low quality air.

From Lookout

Near the North Trailhead

OR coast/Short Sands

Friday, November 11, 2022

Hike: Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail III, St Helens, OR

Warrior Rock Light

AllTrails map

Getting There

From Hwy 30, cross the bridge to Sauvie Island and head north passed the store. Turn right onto NW Reeder Rd and take it all the way to the end. Just before the beaches, the road turns to dirt. There is some washboarding but it's not as bad as on previous visits.

A parking permit is required on the island:

The Hike

Length: 6.95 mi
Elevation gain: 92 ft
Moving time: 1:55:12
Total time: 2:03:47
Avg. pace: 16:34
Calories: 1,158

Last time I hiked here was April 14, 2021. There were two school buses full of small kids at the beach. I saw several groups of people along the way but had the lighthouse to myself.

The lighting was amazing. I got some nice photos. No wind so the water was glassy. I tried to walk up the beach to the end of the island to see St Helens but there were a bunch of trees blocking the way. I could vaguely see the St Helens Courthouse and the 1/2 scale version of the lighthouse at the harbor.

The route is not that exciting to be honest. You skirt the beach in the trees for the whole time. There are a few spots where you can see the river and even some access trails. It's got a bit of the Blair Witch Project vibe at times. The occasional passerby helps to return the mind to "reality".

I glad to bump my hiking stats. This one makes #39.


Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Hike: North End of Forest Park 20, Portland, OR

Sunset from Firelane 15

AllTrails map


Getting There

Take NW Skyline Blvd north from NW Germantown Road. The Skyline Blvd Trailhead is 1.6 mi and a parking are available on right (east) side of the road. 

The "prowler" sign is still there. There were three other cars and no room to park where there is full visibility. I had to park behind a car next to the blackberry. Again, I figured I've done all I can do like locking the console and glove-box and not leaving any of valuable visible or stuff in the back like before the break-in. I parked in a highly visible area and (knock on wood) no issues.

The Hike

Length: 6.14 mi
Elevation gain: 1,089 ft
Moving time: 1:49:35
Total time: 1:54:45
Avg. pace: 17:51
Calories: 1,101

: 13,385
Zone Mins: 33
Floors: 136
Calories: 2,633

This was my first Forest Park hike since August 13. I got a late start so I did a abbreviated version of my usual hike.

The part from the trailhead and Firelane 15 to BPA Road via Wildwood was the same. I headed towards Newton Road but stopped about 1/2 way. I didn't think I had enough daylight to make it all the way down to Linnton and back up in time.

I hike back up to BPA Road and walked to the end. Then, on my way back to the car, took the usual section of Firelane 12 back to Firelane 15.

Note: I did say hello to Benjamin George Collins - or at least the park bench dedicated to him.

This hike is #38 for 2022. I getting closer to my goals for this year. The Elevation Gain is looking good but I'm behind on Hikes and Distance Hiked. I wouldn't mind doing some 'flat' hikes to pump up my stats.


Sunday, November 6, 2022

Hike: Hamilton Mountain + Hardy Creek Loop, N Bonneville, WA


Getting There

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

After passing Cape Horn and the trailhead parking lot, the skies were so dark past Stevenson. I decided it was a Hamilton day.

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: 7.17 mi
Elevation gain: 2,201 ft
Moving time: 2:53:58
Total time: 3:11:01
Avg. pace: 24:17
Calories: 1,748

The Pacific NW has been getting pummeled by rain for the last few days. It was evident on the trail because there were quite a few puddles, mud and debris like branches, twigs, pine needles. On the final stretch to the summit, there branches were heavy with snow causing them to bend over the trail.

I was whacking them with my poles which immediately made them spring back into place and out of the way. I was still getting wet from the slushy snow. I was planning to skip the Saddle this time until three trail runners arrived at the top. They were in shorts but had rain gear on the top. They said they were doing the loop.

I checked my watch and saw it was about 1pm. Guess I'll do the loop as well. I set out and did my best to clear the trail at great cost to me. I was soaked by the time I got out of the snow on the ridge. I didn't even stop at the Saddle and just kept going. 

When I reached the trail sign at the Equestrian Trail, I looked back and saw the three guys.

I soldiered on, wet but not too cold. 

A ways down the trail, one of the three caught up to me. They had rough time on the ridge too. I could hear the other two guys approaching from behind. They said hello as they passed.

When I reached the Upper Hardy Creek trail, I saw the trio continuing on. I kept pace for quite awhile on the Lower Hardy Trail but they eventually pulled away out of sight.

I was glad to reach the Hamilton Trail and make my way to Rodney Falls.

At the car, I was so glad to change out of the wet clothes. The trio was packing up and drove off.

There were still a few cars in the lot. First day of DST. It was foggy and dark even at 3pm.

Great hike. 

Rodney Fall

View from Little Hamilton

View of Columbia River Gorge + Bonneville Dam

View from the switchbacks