Saturday, December 31, 2022

Hike: Wahkeena-Multnomah Falls Loop, Corbett, OR


Getting There

From Portland, take I-84 eastbound. Exit 31 for Multnomah Falls (via the left lane) is 14 miles from Troutdale, OR.

I knew the parking lot was going to be busy but I was able to find a few empty spots including one near the tunnel to the lodge.

The Hike

Length: 7.95 mi
Elev. gain: 2,320 ft
Moving time: 3:41:40
Total time: 4:02:07
Avg pace
: 27:53
Calories: 2,229

I briefly considered going up the Multnomah Falls trails but I read some trail reports that recommend the counterclockwise loop, starting at Wahkeena Falls.

I left the crowds behind and walked along the old highway toward Wahkeena Falls. There was a trail that starts just past the end of the bus parking. This was just a taste of the conditions to come, icy and slippery.

When I reached Wahkeena Falls, you really start to climb. There are about 11 switchbacks to Lemmons Viewpoint. Once you start heading up the ravine, there is a lot more snow and ice. Microspikes for sure.

There are a bunch of waterfalls up Wahkeena Creek and a series of switchbacks. It's really incredible and serene. Beautiful with the sound of water and all the snow on the hillside.

It's about 1000' of elevation gain over about a mile and a half to the Devil's Rest junction. 

From here, there's not much elevation gain. I saw a few hikers going in the other direction from Multnomah Falls.

I skipped the Vista Point detour but noted it for another time.

Since I'd gotten a decently early start, I considered if I had time to go up to Devil's Rest when I got to the second junction. I did!

I started up the trail on the 3.2 miles detour/side trip. I encountered the same snowy/icy conditions but found a lot of dirt/mud as well. When I reached a flatter section, there were lots of trees down across the trail. After a dozen or so, I checked my progress. I was still only about 1/2 way there. I thought about continuing and returning to the Wahkeena Trail but wanted to continue to Multnomah Falls.

I turned around and mentally bookmarked this route for another time. I do recall hiking up most of the way to the Devil's Rest years ago. I have a photo from up there. I know I've also hikes up Wahkeena Creek, maybe part of the same hike years ago. Phaedrus remembers.

I made it back to the Wahkeena Trail and onward to the Larch Mountain trail back to the lodge.

The trail was easy. The weather was nice and dry.

I had no idea what was coming next.

When I started my descent along Multnomah Creek, it was still business as usual. I was following another couple of hikers and a golden retriever. I stopped several times to take photos.

The trail gets closer and closer to the water. As I got near the spot where the trail goes under the cliff, I realized that couple was stopped. I quickly realized why; they were contemplating a challenging section of the trail.

It was completely covered with ice and it was solid slope into the water. No margin of error. Turns about this is above a big waterfall.

I watched the couple and the dog make it safely across. I thought 'I really hope this doesn't become a rescue situation for either of us'. Phew I made it.

I briefly took off my microspikes when the trail was clear only to realize there were still challenges ahead.

There were more spots on the trail where slipping meant going over the cliff into the water below. I calmed my nerves and stayed focused on each step.

I finally reached the end of the difficult section. There were 4 people where are not equipped (tennis shoes, no poles) that were stopped for me since the trail was single file. I warned them that it was sketchy behind me.

This is where the trail is paved. I went down to the waterfall viewpoint. I had it to myself.

I encountered more and more people on the last section to the lodge and parking lot.

Nice loop. I like the counterclockwise loop. The other direction might be fun too.

2022: My Year in Review

I revised my hiking goals this year. I'd had some health issues that slowed me down a bit but I made time for the outdoors. I'm happy to celebrate and look back at some of the places I visited.

Mt Adams (Pah-to) from the Boundary Trail to Coldwater Peak
St Helen's Lake from Coldwater Peak

Wide pano from Coldwater Peak summit

Mt Adams (Pah-to) from the Stagman Ridge Trail

Why 52 hikes?

There are lot of hiking challenges "out there", one being the 52 hike challenge. I thought this aligned well with my new targets and I liked the symmetry with the calendar.

Since I was working, my hiking was limited to weekends and the occasional holiday for the most part. I wasn't able to take my annual road trip but was able to catch up on hikes in the fall. I visited my favorite spots (Hamilton/Beacon Rock, Dog Mountain, Forest Park).

I participated in the WTA's annual Hike-A-Thon in August and did one hike per week. While the contest was open to trails all over the world, I limited my hikes to ones on WA trails. My first one was Butte Camp on the south side of Mt St Helens, and my second time there. My second one was Silver Star Mountain, north of Washougal. I crushed this hike and got some great photos. My third one was Coldwater Peak, another epic hike. I got some more great photos. I'd been there the month before but didn't quit reach the top due to snow/ice and some mountain goats on the trail. My fourth and final HAT hike was a new one for me: Stagman Ridge on the west side of Mt Adams. This was my first visit to trail.

Like last year ('21), I did a lot of conditioning hikes in Forest Park & Beacon Rock State Park. I did 7 hikes at Forest Park, my longest being 10.4 miles and 2,133 ft just a couple of weeks ago. I also spent a lot of time hiking around Beacon Rock including Phlox Point and Hamilton Mountain, totaling 14 hikes combined.

Why 365 miles?

I adjusted my distance goal from 500 miles to 365. I liked the symmetry with the calendar and of course, it works out to 1 mile per day. My average distance this year is about 7 miles per hike so that complements the 52 hikes goal.

My hikes usually are a bit longer so I knew I could budget for some shorter hikes without falling too far behind on the goal.

What destinations are 365 miles from Portland?

The Canadian Border is 365 miles from Portland, and so is Medford, OR. It's about the same as a round trip to Eugene, OR (at least by highway).

Elsewhere in the US, for example, it's exactly 365 miles from New Orleans to Houston.

And in Europe, according to TripSavvy, "London to Cologne: 365miles/587km".

Why 84,000 feet?

This goal was somewhat arbitrary. This works out to 7000 ft per month. 52 hikes at 1600' per hike calculates to 83,200 ft. I preferred the symmetry with the number of months in a year. I also knew many of my hikes would be a bit more in the 2000' range so I could take some hikes without much elevation gain and still not fall behind on the goals. 

What is it like at 84,000 feet high (15.9 mi/25.6 km)?

"At 84,000 feet, MSU’s balloon was above 98 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere." (source)

Montana State University students

Fitbit uses some interesting comparisons/achievements.

These stats are incomplete because I didn't always hike with my Fitbit and the mileage is calculated from Steps times Average Stride Length rather than the Actual Distance moved via GPS. When hiking up inclines and technical section you tend to take smaller steps so the mileage is often inflated. 

Also, the way the Floors is calculated makes it an inaccurate analog to elevation gain. According to SteveH on the Fitbit blog, Floor are based on 10 ft (3m) of continuous rise. "So, if you rise 9 feet, level off for a few steps, then rise another 9 feet then you rise 18 feet but get zero floors."

Yearly Totals:
1,869,380 steps 11,045 floors 855.7 miles 756,124 calories

This includes more than just hikes, like pushing my shopping cart back to the corral or going up the stairs in my house for the 7th time because I forgot why I went up there last time. While my hiking goals are reduced this year, my FitBit stats are pretty much inline with last years'. I was walking regularly at work over the summer.

And, one caveat about the following information is that all lesser levels are incremented when a Trail Badge is earned, e.g. when you hike 16k daily steps, you earn the Urban Boot, Sneakers, Boat Shoe badges. 

The counts are cumulative from last year when I started keep track on FitBit so I only included the milestones that were added or updated this year.

Daily Steps

- Trail Shoe: 30,000 steps in a day (1x)
- Classics: 25,000 (4x)
- High Tops: 20,000 (17x)
- Urban Boot: 15,000 (33x)
- Sneakers: 10,000 (45x)
- Boat Shoe: 5,000 (127x)

Daily Climbs

- Stadium: 150 floors in a day (33x)
- Roller coaster: 125 (35x)
- Skyscraper: 100 (36x)
- Ferris Wheel: 75 (38x)
- Lighthouse: 50 (41x)
- Redwood Forest: 25 (54x)
- Happy Hill: 10 (102x)


Lifetime Distance

- India: 1,997 lifetime miles (1x)
- Japan: 1,869 (1x)
- Great Barrier Reef: 1,600 (1x)

Lifetime Climb

- Astronaut: 28,000 lifetime floors (1x)
- Shooting Star: 20,000 (1x)


Even  though I hiked some familiar trails, I hiked some new ones like the newly opened Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Washougal, WA. I returned to Wahtum Lake, north of Mt Hood to summit the small peak of Chinidere Mountain.

Moulton Falls 

East Fork Lewis River

One place that I'd driven by but never stopped to look was Moulton Falls, WA. The day before Halloween, I'd ventured up to the trail parking lot for Silver Star Mountain on L-1200. It was pretty overcast and dark when I got there and it just didn't look like a lot of fun. I didn't even stop. After I got back to pavement on the north side of L-1200, I stopped at Moulton Falls. I just intended to take some photos and get some steps. I did bring my whole pack but just because. As I continued further on the path, I passed joggers and dogs+owners. I found the turn for Bells Mountain. I was stoked to get some elevation gain and distance. Bonus: When I got back to the car, a fellow Jeep owner had "ducked" me with a small blue rubber ducky.

Selfie from Bells Mountain, above Moulton Falls

To the south, I also explored some trails around Mt Hood that I hadn't done, at least in awhile. Specifically, the routes accessible from Lolo Pass Road.

McNeil Point

Selfie from Ho Rock/Cathedral Ridge

One was McNeil Point. A friend had done this one the previous summer. Until then, it really wasn't on my radar. I started from the Top Spur trailhead. I'd seen the sign for this trailhead when checking out Lola Pass and Ramona Falls. When I reached the hut, I still had a few hours of daylight. I saw a trail going up, up, up so I figured I'd go as far as I can before I needed to start the descent.

Mt Hood (Wy'east), Ho Rocky, Cathedral Ridge (McNeil Point Trail)

On the front side, I passed a couple coming down. When I reached the top of the first section, I met another guy starting his descent. The approach to Cathedral Ridge & Ho Rock is not very steep. I could see the end of the trail. I stopped at the rock to shed my pack and have a snack. I walked a little further to the 'real' end. A couple was sitting, enjoying the view so I backed up quietly to give them space.

Barret Spur

While I'd hiked the Vista Ridge trail a couple of times, I'd had mixed results. The first time was in 2020 and I only made it to the intersection for the loop to the Cairn Basin. There was snow above and I wasn't ready to go further that time. My second visit was 2021 where I only got about 0.4 mile from the trailhead before getting to dozens of downed trees blocking the trail. I ended up bailing and wound up at Wahtum Lake and Ant Hill.

Mt Hood (Wy'east) - Selfie from base of Barrett Spur

This most recent hike I was well-prepared and was on a mission to get as much elevation as I could. At the Cairn Basin junction, I ran into quite a bit of snow covering the trail but had my eye on Barrett Spur to put on my microspikes and crawled along on the snow bank. I was going up steep embankments and around trees to try to stay on course.

Snowy trail

I reached the Timberline Trail and met two guys hiking the mountain perimeter. I missed the actual turn to Barrett Spur but found an alternate route. I kept going up and up, skirting the snow where I could.

I reached the base of Barrett Spur. I was tired and wary of the clock. The final mile was scrambling up a rocky incline. I decided to call it there instead of going the last bit. Still amazing up there but I wanted to get back to the car with plenty of daylight.

On my descent, I didn't follow the snowy covered trail the same way and got off course. I didn't realize it until I looked at the map. I was closer to the Timberline section of the Cairn Basin loop. Phew! I was back on a trail instead of bushwhacking however I quickly encountered lots of snow covering the trail. I saw some post holes from other hikers so I just needed to follow them back to the trail junction.

My favorite alpine flower (Western pasqueflower, Old Man of the Mountain)

The rest was smooth sailing back to the car. (Props to the trail crews that had cleared the massive number of trees from the previous year.).

Mt St Helens Summit

On the one-year anniversary my previous MSH hike, I took another run at the summit. This time I didn't quite make it; I made it through the boulders, all the way to the pumice section but just ran out of energy. I was struggling all morning with low energy and I got to the point where I was resting a lot more than I was progressing upwards.

In hindsight, I knew I hadn't nourished my body correctly for the endeavor. I didn't have my food the night before and just a banana in the early morning. The decision to turn back was a bit of a relief. I watched people get further ahead of me and I was getting a bit down emotionally. I knew sometimes you just have to play it safe and try again another day. While it takes a bit of planning with getting the permit to getting to the trailhead to camp, setting out in the dark on an 8 hr journey up a steep mountain.

I also knew I needed to save my reserve energy for a safe descent back to the car and the Climber's Bivouac.

Ptarmigan Trail

Making progress on Ptarmigan Trail

Switchback about 2 miles from trailhead
Selfie from my turnaround point about 1/2 mile from summit

In the end, it was a beautiful hike and great outing. I will try again.

This experience had motivated my to pay a lot closer attention to how and when I fuel my body on these hikes. I started getting Gatorade and drinking it during my ascent but saving enough for my descents. There has been a noticeable improvement in my energy levels during and after the hikes, fewer leg (IT band, hammies), ankle, or foot issues. 

What's Next

I like to continue exploring the west and northwest side of Mt Hood, particularly the Tilly Jane and Cooper Spur side. There's also a route to Barrett Spur from over there. I saw there are guided climbs but not sure if that's in the cards this next year.

I saw an Instagram post for 29029 Everesting: a hiking challenge based on the height of Mt Everest. There are several sites that host the event. The challenge is to hike for 24 hrs to equal the distance but only the ascents, you get to take a chairlift back to the bottom. Some sites have short trails so you have to do a lot more repetitions. The most difficult is Whistler with the longest route so fewest hikes.

The section of BPA Road in Forest Park is about 1 mile and 900 ft. Therefore, it'd be like do that over and over about 30 times in the 24 hr period. That sounds exhausting. Ha! As much of a physical as mental challenge. It cost a few thousand dollars and not sure I'm up for it but I'm still intrigued. Perhaps I can craft my own challenge.

Overall Stats for the Year

- Number of Hikes: 49
- Total Distance: 341.9 miles
- Total Elevation Gain: 85,561
- Average Distance per Hike: 7 miles
- Average Elevation Gain per Hike: 1,746 feet
- Longest Hike: 13.98 miles (Coldwater Peak, 8/21/2022)
- Highest Elevation in a Hike: 7,289 feet (Mt St Helens, 9/16/2022)
- Most Elevation in a Hike: 3,330 feet (Cathedral Ridge, 7/10/2022)

Check out these platforms for updates and photos




Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Hike: Little Hamilton, N Bonneville, WA

Beacon Rock from Little Hamilton

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.

However, today, the road was closed. I parked under Beacon Rock and walked up. There was snow and debris from the trees. I was kind of weird seeing an empty parking lot.

The Hike

Length: 4.84 mi
Elev. gain: 1,460 ft
Moving time: 2:14:16
Total time: 2:28:34
Avg pace: 27:45
Calories: 1,350

The trail from the beginning was covered with pine needles and branches. The snow had become icy and crusty. I managed to maintain my traction throughout the first section but when the trail emerges from the trees under the power lines, it got pretty slippery; I walked on the edge in the dirt & mud.

At the junction for Hadley Grove I stopped and put on my microspikes. Now, it was good to go!

I passed a couple of hikers that were having a tough time without the right gear. They looked cold but cheerful. I zoomed by.

I saw a few others but only a couple that looked suited up for the conditions.

It was challenging even on the flatter sections. The hard snow covered the trail so you had to walk on an angle, digging your foot in for every step, or skirt the edge when possible where the ground was still visible.

I kept marching upwards at a slow, steady pace.

When I got to the first big switchback, it got really dicey. I considered stopping here and going back down to the Hardy Creek trail. I even ventured out about 20 ft then turned back. It looked like the trail was exposed about 40 ft so I went for it.

The trail on the switchbacks was snowy & icy but manageable.

I finally made it up to the viewpoint under Little Hamilton.

I continued onward but as the trail got narrower, I really slowed down, having to plant each step deliberately in the ice.

Before the detour up the steep path to Little Ham. I turned back. I could have inched a bit further but would have to come through this stuff on the way down. There was no way I was making the summit today.

It was great to be out there, esp. so soon after the recent winter storm with snow and ice.

This might be my last Hamilton hike of 2022. I'd kind of hoped I could summit one more time and see the Saddle but conditions aren't right and it's almost the new year!

It's all good.

Near the trailhead

Above Rodney Falls (1)

Above Rodney Falls (2)

Monday, December 19, 2022

Hike: North End of Forest Park 21, Portland, OR

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 Hike

Length: 10.40 mi
Elev. gain: 2,133 ft
Moving time: 3:12:31
Total time: 3:19:05
Avg pace: 18:31
Calories: 1,935

BPA Road in Forest Park. This is the top of a 1.0 mi / 800 ft climb. It's part of a 10 mi / 2000 ft loop that I've been doing for awhile; my favorite nearby hike for conditioning. I'm close to meeting some goals I set for the year, so I'm trying to squeeze in as many outings as I can before NYE. I took every side quest/detour: (1) to the BPA Road Trailhead (+0.9 mi) (2) to the Newton Road Trailhead (+1.7 mi), (3) the Kielhorn Meadow (+0.3 mi).  

** Shoutout to the trail maintenance people. The Wildwood Trail was in great shape. Looks like a lot of recent work.

On my way down toward Hwy 30 on Newton Road, I heard a strange noise, like from an animal. It didn't sound like a dog or bird. When I was in the area in Nov I saw some bear poop on BPA Road near Firelane 12. I heard two vocalizations -
2 sec each. It didn't sound like was close to the trail but certainly nearby, down the hillside.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Hike: Cooper Mountain Nature Park, Beaverton, OR

AllTrails map

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.

The Hike

Length: 2.90 mi
Elev. gain: 430 ft
Moving time: 52:12
Total time: 52:54
Avg pace: 18:00
Calories: 525

I'm behind on my hiking goals for 2022 so this hike was mostly for the stats but it was good to get out and get some exercise. While it was relatively short hike, there was a little elevation gain and I, somehow, avoided rain. (It was raining the entire drive over there from N Portland, including on Farmington Road.)

When I was here last time in summer of 2021, the trails were on "covid" routes, meaning most trails were one-way to maximize social distancing.

This time I followed basically the same route, counterclockwise:

Cooper Mountain Loop > Larkspur Loop > Blacktail Way > Little Prairie Loop.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Hike: Cape Horn Loop Trail, Washougal, WA


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.

My original plan was to hike in Oregon in the Gorge somewhere. I considered Angel's Rest and Multnomah Falls but when I got in the area it was all in the winter shade even though the sky was clear.

It just didn't seem that appealing, so I kept heading east. I considered Eagle Creek but the same issue applied. I looked across the river at a sunny Archer and Hamilton Mountains.

My next plan was to at least scout the Whistle Punk and Bunker Hill Trails north of Carson.

I stopped in Stevenson to get coffee and take a look at the riverfront park.

Stevenson, WA

I bailed on going further east and settled on Cape Horn.

The Hike

Length: 6.97 mi
Elev. gain: 1,398 ft
Moving time: 2:28:51
Total time: 2:42:49
Avg pace: 21:22
Calories: 1,496

I took the counterclockwise route. There was snow in the bush everywhere but the trail was clear albeit muddy, a foreshadowing of the conditions.

As I made my way up the switchbacks, I hiked through good patches and sticky mud patches.

By the top of the first hill, thick mud was unavoidable.

I kept an eye out for strange hair ice where I'd seen it before but I didn't find any. There was a lot of nccdle ice though.

Both lookouts were occupied so I kept moving, plenty of views ahead. At this point, my plan was to go to the first lookout past Strunk Road. 

There were people at that lookout too so I kept going. I made the call there to go for the full loop. I was making good progress and still had plenty of daylight. I only needed to make it to Cape Horn Road; I didn't mind it being darker on that part.

I saw a guy with an overweight & friendly black lab. I met another hiker that was leaving a viewpoint and was going the counterclockwise loop as well. I stopped for a bit to enjoy the views and sit for a minute.

My last time here was Oct 21, 2021. My memory was hazy on the route but it seemed familiar.

When I reached Cape Horn Falls, I noticed a pair of hikers. I kept going and figured I'd pass them eventually but the trail reached the road before I could.

There were a couple more hikers finishing the hike and starting the road part. I zoomed between them on the road and pulled far ahead.

I felt strong the entire hike, making sure to eat part of the Clif bar and drinking Gatorade.

Columbia River Gorge

Cigar Rock viewpoint

Cape Horn Falls bridge