Saturday, March 23, 2024

Hike: Lyle Cherry Orchard, Lyle, WA

Getting There

I left from Portland in the early morning, around 6:15am. I wanted to have a little extra time to get there. I took I-84 to Hood River and stopped at McDonald's on the Oregon side of the Hood River Bridge. 

I paid the $3.50 and continue east on Hwy 14. It's 12.1 miles from there. The trailhead parking lot is on the left. I arrived at 7:45a and there was one car in the lot: Tom and Rod. I waved and ate my breakfast sandwich. Shortly thereafter, Bill showed up and parked next to me. Then, James arrived in the WTA truck. I started getting my gear ready and went the group that had gathered for the orientation and tool talk.

We set out as a group to the worksite somewhere on the trail.

The Hike

Distance: 3.45 miles
Elevation Gain: 942 feet
Highest Elevation: 1,052 feet

From the parking lot, it's hard to see what the area looks like. It's a steep, rocky trail for the first 3/4 mile, then opens up to some amazing views. 

Pretty quickly the group started to spread out. I noticed Rod was still making his way up the first section. I pretended to adjust some settings on my camera and took a few shots. I didn't want to make Rod self-conscience but he thanked me for waiting for him.

We continued up and moderate pace and met Bill. He was at the junction for the Lyle Trail & Cherry Orchard Loop Trail where there were some tools. I grabbed a hoe and shovel (for Rod, since he was using hiking poles) and the three of use took the clockwise loop.

I learned that the both of them had been on the crew to built this section of trail from scratch. Amazing!

Bill pulled ahead up the trail and Rod and I stopped a couple times to add a drain where water had puddled.

I'd seen the rest of the group take the Cherry Orchard Trail at the junction where we met Bill and the tools. I pulled away from Rod and was trying to catch up to Bill. I was a bit surprised to met Tom who was working on a section of the trail. The other half of the group had gone the counterclockwise direction and we met in the middle (sort of).

I came across three others crew members that were debating the best way to dig a drainage trench. I skipped past them and found James. About 5 of us worked on a long section of trail: removing the downside berm and discarding the dirt and clumps of grass far away from the trail.

We continued up the trail doing the same and even created a "bench": widening the trail on the upside of the path, leveling it off, and removing the downside berm for drainage. I had been wearing my base layer, fleece layer, and soft shell jacket, plus my backpack. Rod stopped me at one point to remove my jacket and pack. I hadn't even noticed. It definitely felt better to do the digging and hoeing.

We continued upwards, leap-frogging the groups of two or three. At one point, James came by to give out chocolate and encouragement. Before we knew it, James made the call that we were done with everything that was planned. We stayed there and ate our lunches.

We enjoyed the food, sunshine, and views for awhile and slowly got up and ready to head back to the parking lot.

Again, I took a slower pace so Rod and Bill weren't too far behind. The group was getting spread out again. Finally, I was by myself, stopping every so often to take pictures.

At one point, Bill passed me and I didn't see Rod for awhile. There were many hikers going up. I stopped to talk to some of them, telling them where we'd worked and how grand the views were.

I looked back and saw Rod was stopped and talking with a mom & daughter pair I'd seen earlier. We were just 1/2 mile from the bottom so I just headed down.

I reached the car and took off my gear and changed into my comfy shoes and joined the group for chips and post-work talk. Rod eventually made it back down but he'd missed the wrap-up talk. James remarked that he knew Rod had heard the spiel before; he's got hundreds of hours with WTA.