Take WA-14 from Vancouver, WA east toward N Bonneville.
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.
Length: 6.82 mi
Elev. gain: 2,231 ft
Moving time: 3:18:22
Avg pace: 29:04
Total time: 4:07:35
Another snowy hike up Hamilton Mountain. I post a lot of photos of this area. Definitely my go-to spot because it's relatively close, still presents a challenge, and the constantly changing conditions are beautiful to photograph.
Even though the parking lot was pretty full and the overflow was available near the campground, I didn't see that many people on the trail. Usually folks just go to Rodney Falls and back.
I didn't encounter snow until I started traversing the backside of Little Hamilton. It was really slushy and soft. There were puddles of icy water so I tried my best to avoid testing my boots on their waterproofing.
For the entire ascent I went without extra traction. It was slippery at times but no major issues.
A trail runner passed me. I'm always impressed that someone can run up the mountain and back with light clothing and just minimal supplies (water, snacks). The person had shoes with extra wide treads for extra stability and surface area for these kind of conditions.
Reaching the top is mostly ceremonial but the views are often really good when it's clear. The trees prevent are good 360° view but you can see Table Mountain, Dog Mountain, the Columbia River, and Bonneville Dam. The snow level at the top was higher than it was last time so you are a bit higher up. I was able to see the river to the west through the branches.
I've been wanting to do the Saddle-Hardy Creek Loops but it just hasn't been in the cards lately due to the snow. I saw footprints heading down the ridge. I know it's doable but judging by the conditions last Tuesday, the Equestrian Trail is about 6-8" deep. I have no idea what shape the Hardy Creek trail is in at the moment. (Need to budget another hour or so.)
At the top, I put on my mini-gaiters and microspikes for the descent. I discovered I'd lost one of my hats. There wasn't anyone around so I knew I'd see it on the way down. Right after I started the return, I heard some grunts from a guy. Just when I saw him, I saw my hat. Woohoo. He asked how much further. I said another 50 yards and noticed the running shoes. SMH.
Further down, I encountered this guy's two buddies, also not dressed for the conditions. One guy was having a helluva time in this tennis shoes and cotton hoodie. They were loud but I tempered my annoyance.
The guy from earlier appeared from the top. He said he was underwhelmed by the top. I get it but also recognize that a lot of people don't appreciate the simple things. Every time I hike here, there some doubt that I'll make it due to conditions or fitness or injuries or something. I'm 50 years old with a disability. (Oh, the youths :)
I passed another group where the lead person was in shorts, t-shirt and was carrying cotton sweatshirt. Why!?
I made my way up the side trail for my requisite visit to Little Hamilton. Not many folks had been up there since the last snow fall and they hadn't followed the actual trail very well.
The views were gorgeous as usual.
As I made my way out of the snow, I stopped to remove the microspikes. Good to be back on dirt/mud.
My boot and pant legs had been cleaned with the snow but now I was getting dirty again.. Oh well.
Near the Hadley Grove junction, a guy and girl were hiking up toward Rodney Falls. Guy had his shirt off.. It was 40 degrees. I don't get the bravado thing.
I headed towards Little Beacon. When I reached the saddle, there was a couple taking photos. I zoomed up the steep hill and had the place to myself. The lighting was amazing. I took off my pack for a min. It wasn't long before I heard that couple. Since I'd been up there numerous times, I figured I'd let them enjoy it. Their English was broken. I hope they didn't think I was leaving because they'd showed up. I was giving them space but doubted I could convey that quickly. I smiled and pointed over my shoulder that there were more great views behind me.
Another great hike. My left ankle and heel felt pretty good. Overall, a success.
|Upper part of trail|
|Rainbow over Table Mountain|
|Beacon Rock from Little Beacon|
|Hamilton Mountain from Little Beacon|
|View through the trees|
|Columbia River from Little Hamilton|
|Heavy snow but it's soft|
|Snow on trail near the top|
|The Hamilton summit|